The Power of YET

by Kelly L. Ross, MS, PCC

How do you speak to yourself or about your abilities?  If you say, or think, things such as, “I can’t do that,” or “I am not good at…,” these are clues that your Fixed Mindset is showing up.   If you were instead to say, or think, “I need more practice at …,” or “I am not very good at ____ yet,” these are clues to a Growth Mindset.  We all have elements of both Fixed and Growth Mindsets, our mindset is always evolving.  There is power in noticing how you talk to yourself and others.  Small shifts to enhance your Growth Mindset can dramatically impact how you see yourself and how we lead others.  

Carol Dweck, Stanford Psychologist, coined the term Growth Mindset. You may enjoy her TEDx talk and book, Mindset. Dweck’s early work was with kids; don’t be fooled to think this research won’t be applicable to your work as a leader and human.  

Dweck says:

“When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. In one world – the world of fixed traits – success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating yourself. In the other – the world of changing qualities – it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself. In one world, failure is about having a setback. Getting a bad grade. Losing a tournament. Getting fired. Getting rejected. It means you’re not smart or talented. In the other world, failure is about not growing. Not reaching for things you value. It means you’re not fulfilling your potential. In one world, effort is a bad thing. It, like failure, means you’re not smart or talented. If you were, you wouldn’t need effort. In the other world, effort is what makes you smart or talented. You have a choice. 


Mindsets are just beliefs. They’re powerful beliefs, but they’re just something in your mind, and you can change your mind. The secret to fulfilling your potential is changing your mindset. Specifically, it’s in moving from a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset, where: 


Fixed Mindset is the belief that abilities (from intelligence to creativity and athleticism) are innate and largely fixed; and 


Growth Mindset is the belief that abilities are highly trainable and developed through effort and failure.” 


(from Mindset by Carol Dweck)


How can you build your Growth Mindset?

  • Notice and reflect on how you speak to yourself.  Shift your thoughts and language to include more “yet” instead of declarative, fixed statements.  Say, “I need some more practice to be ready for that presentation,” instead of, “I can’t give a company-wide presentation.” 
  • Push outside your comfort zone. Growing, developing, and building new skills help us enhance our Growth Mindsets.  What will you learn or try today? 
  • Notice how you hear feedback given to you. Bringing a Growth Mindset means really listening to the feedback, even if you don’t like it.  Reflect on it and pick something to try, which will often be outside your comfort zone. 
  • Finish difficult tasks.  A clue that your Fixed Mindset is showing up is not finishing (or perhaps never starting) something difficult. Hallmarks of Growth Mindset are learning, trying, failing, and persisting. 

How can I support those you lead to build their Growth Mindsets?

  • Praise wisely.  Notice the praise you give those you lead. Give praise and feedback about the process someone goes through, the efforts made, the improvement you see.  Don’t just say someone is talented or a generic, “good job.” 
  • Use the language of “not yet” as you coach and give feedback. There is power in yet – support the learning, growth and development of your people.  If they are saying they can’t do something, remind them they can’t do it yet.  Help them learn. 


Elevate your Leadership Potential

To learn more about building a growth mindset and executive coaching, reach out to Kelly for a consultation.