the power of yet

Power of yet and how to switch to a growth mindset


15 April, 2022

A simple way to start changing to a growth mindset, is by using the power of yet. Some things are worth waiting for, and those things take work.

One of the goals of learning is progress, as reflected in the results achieved. It is very important how we approach these outcomes and how we view progress in the learning process as a whole. Studies coordinated by Carol Dweck, the promoter of the flexible mindset concept, show that a poor outcome is demoralizing for learners because it blocks them and can close their appetite for learning and development. Changing perspective and turning 'no' into 'not yet' and 'you can't' into 'you can't yet' opens a pathway to the future, and gives students confidence and hope that they can always improve their results.

“Yet.” A powerful three-letter word that means, “an implied time, still, even or nevertheless”. – Carol Dweck

"Not yet" is specific to the flexible mindset and is a crucial word when we want to stimulate learning based on permanent evolution

Studies of 10-year-old pupils and how they manage difficulties and challenges have shown that, despite being given difficult tasks beyond their current capabilities, children were stimulated and motivated by the 'not yet' perspective. When approached in this way, the children felt challenged and understood that regardless of current results, they can learn and progress and anything can be changed. In this way, they were able to surpass themselves and solve tasks beyond their current capabilities. In contrast, those who were only highlighted as having poor results became demoralized and turned to strategies that would help them in the short term to 'trick' the results. They thought about copying, compared themselves to those weaker than them, and eventually gave up. The researchers measured the brain activity of these two groups of students. Those focused only on the results at hand ran away from mistakes and their brain activity was extremely low. The others were highly engaged in tasks, identifying mistakes and correcting them. In their case, new neural connections were forming in the brain to support their actions.

When we raise our children in a "not yet" mindset, we teach them that the goal in life is progress, not grades

They won't need constant validation to succeed and will become those visionary, progress-oriented employees, not immediate rewards. The path to the "not yet" philosophy is built from childhood when it is preferable to praise what the child does, not their talents and qualities. Praising the process breeds resilient children while focusing on the individual creates unnecessary competition. A video game, for example, that rewards strategy over results will develop children with future-oriented skills. Every time a child steps out of their comfort zone, strong and lasting neural connections are formed in their brain and this develops long-term intelligence. Learning based on the "not yet" perspective has worked, including in communities considered disadvantaged, such as those in Harlem or aid schools.

Children initially considered to have no future ended up being highly motivated, wanting more, self-improving, and ultimately outperforming children from well-known schools or those from stable families. If initially, children from disadvantaged backgrounds felt inferior and incapable, once they understood that they could progress and become better, they put it into practice and visibly improved their results, both at school and in their relationships at home and with friends and colleagues.  Once we know that skills can grow, it is up to us, parents, teachers, and leaders, to bring this perspective to learning and empower children to live and learn in environments that foster their growth. The theory about the power of "not yet" was outlined by Carol Dweck, a motivation researcher, and professor of psychology at Stanford University in the US,

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