The power of “not yet”

I was recently heartened to see that my daughter’s school has started to apply some of the principles of a growth mindset in its daily practices.    Against the backdrop of globalisation and digitisation (to name but a few) our educational systems need to change to help our children face the future and I think the ideas behind a growth mindset holds a number of the solutions.

I appreciated the impact it’s had on my daughter when she recently said that she wasn’t very good “yet” at something.    The small addition of a very powerful three letter word – yet – highlighted the effect it is having on her.  Unusually, she wasn’t particularly bothered about the fact she couldn’t do the task now because she felt if she kept practicing over time she will.   The power of “not yet.”

In her excellent overview of the growth mindset Carol Dweck explains the power of “not yet” as well as a succinct explanation of both a growth and a fixed mindset.     You have two choices either you have a fixed view of the world where talents are set and are finite.    Or alternatively adopt a view where with a healthy dose of persistence, effort and resilience you can learn something over time – the essence of a growth mindset.

Traditionally, schools and organisations have a tendency to create and reinforce a rather binary view of success and failure.  You see it through countless symbols like the use of grades or appraisal scores.   The systems simply reinforce that you either have ‘it’ or you don’t.

But there is another way.   Instead organisations and schools should be looking to follow the same approach to create an environment and culture that supports life-long learning and thereby helping their people adapt to the challenges we face in the future.    It doesn’t have to be that complicated either, just by applying a small three letter word is at least a start in the right direction.

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