I recently watched Carol Dwek’s Ted Talk on the power of “not yet…” Dwek introduces the idea of a growth mindset and explains how it can be useful for students. I would go one step further, a growth mindset is key to picking up new hobbies, skills, and strategies no matter your age, capabilities, or “inherent talent” that one has.
As we go through our lives, going to work, school, encountering problems that need to be solved, we often run up against walls. “I don’t know how”, “I can’t”, and “I won’t do it well” are often thrown out, excuses against having to challenge oneself and continuing to grow and learn. As learners, many of us have a fixed mindset. Either you know it or you don’t. This mindset says that there are those born with talent, great painters, athletes, and writers come out of the womb with talent overflowing from their fingertips, they are not made. Many people don’t sincerely believe that if we practice, try hard, and keep working at it, that we will eventually get better and learn how to succeed in that area.
By teaching a growth mindset, we give students, workers, and every citizen the power to say, “not yet” instead of “i can’t”. Not yet implies that if you keep trying and practicing, that you will improve and eventually succeed. Not yet encourages those who fall to get back on their feet and try again, because even though they many not have it now, not yet, they will soon.
As a teacher i recognize the importance of not yet as a tool for struggling, disheartened, and disillusioned students. By telling students “not yet” they are given permission to fail, try again, and keep failing until they succeed. Not yet also helps overachievers, those who fly though school with ease, who have never come across a challenge powerful enough to stop them in their tracks. Not yet teaches these students that they can also grow and learn. Even though they are at the top of the class, they too can continue to learn, grow, and become better than they already are.
Students who are taught a growth mindset can translate that mindset into the rest of their lives. If they want to pick up a new skill, hobby, or try a new career all they have to tell themselves is “not yet” and they know that through hard work, trial and error, and practice, that they will be able to succeed and do what they want to do in life. Not yet takes away the intimidation factor, not yet puts no boundaries on your skill set, on what you can learn, and what you can do with your life.