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Ever feel like a failure because you can’t do something, understand something, struggle with something, or are otherwise, you know, not perfect? Or have you considered quitting because something is too hard? Friend, I need to let you in on my secret weapon: The Power of Yet! *cue magical trumpets*
But first, a confession.
I didn’t drive until I was 20.
I’ve never told anyone why. It’s really dumb. Really, really dumb. You ready?
I didn’t get my license until I was 20 because I didn’t pass Driver’s Ed in 11th grade.
Actually, I passed Driver’s Ed, but I didn’t get the driving test waiver that I could take to the DMV. So, my future as a driver included 16-year-old me having to take a driving test. Which I was sure I would fail. So, I just didn’t take it.
I put it off as long as I could. But in the summer before my senior year of college, I finally got my license. It’s not like I had overcome my fear of failing the test. Nope, it was a painful, painful process, but I didn’t want to live on campus for my senior year, so I had to get my license.
Sound familiar? Being painted into a corner and then being forced to do the damn thing you’ve been avoiding for freaking ever.
My problem was I had a fixed mindset and not a growth mindset.
Growth vs. Fixed Mindset
Educators have known this for years, but when I discovered it a few years ago, it knocked my socks off. And I could see exactly how I got stuck in a Fixed Mindset.
With a Fixed Mindset, you believe that your basic traits, like intelligence, aptitude, or talent are fixed. It is what it is. You are good at math or you aren’t. You’re a good writer or you aren’t. You are ambitious or oh well.
With a Growth Mindset, you believe that you are capable of growing. Not good a math? You believe you have the capacity to get better. Suck at driving? You know that eventually, you’ll have enough practice to show your 11th Grade PE teacher you can parallel park just fine, thank you very much.
A Call to the Smarty Pants
My grandma would tell you I am a pretty smart cookie. I was a solid A student, a really good writer who loved reading and language. BUTTTT, I struggled with Pre-Algebra. I just wasn’t good a math, oh well. No advanced math or science classes for me. It’s just not for me.
Throughout my education, the things that I excelled at, that came easy to me, I would do. The things that were hard, that I didn’t understand, got a big old fat nope with a side of it’s just not for me.
And so began my descent into a Fixed Mindset, where I slumbered comfortably for 20-something years.
The Life-Changing Power of Yet
Dr. Carol Dweck gave a Ted Talk on the topic of growth mindset and it changed my entire viewpoint on my abilities, and gave me a powerful tool to shift from a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset; the word yet.
With a Fixed Mindset, I would say, I can’t run a half-marathon.
With a Growth Mindset, I say, I can’t run a half marathon yet.
Both sentences are accurate. I attempted my first half marathon earlier this year and I can confirm that I cannot run a half marathon. However, by adding yet to the end of the sentence, I open myself up to the possibility that it’s possible.
And possibility is a beautiful thing! And that is the life-changing power of yet.
The idea that any of us are completely fixed is absurd. Physically, I am not who I was last month: my wrinkles are a little deeper, I have a few less hairs on my head and a new one on my freaking chin… Our brains are no different. We are constantly learning new things: some simple, like a new acquaintance’s name; some more complex, like how to operate a new kitchen appliance. Our brains are constantly adding new information. But, without the proper mindset, it’s easy to get stuck into thinking we’ve learned all we can learn, we’ve achieved all we can achieve.
Try using the Power of Yet the next time you’re stuck or defeated. You may not know the answer… yet.
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