The Power of "Yet"

Most people in any field of education, coaching, psychology, and the like, are familiar with Carol Dweck’s work that focuses on mindsets.  I've blogged about it, myself.  I’ve been inspired by many ideas Dr. Dweck has shared over the years, but one of the most significant to me was about what she calls “the power of yet”.  That “power of yet” has been a primary force shaping nearly everything I do, and everything that we do, at St. Timothy’s School.

That single word, “yet,” carries a great deal of power that we sometimes forget.  Imagine you’re a child receiving back your graded math test, and you didn’t do well.  Consider these two possible statements the teacher might say to you:

“You don’t know this material,” vs. “You don’t yet know this material.”

Or imagine being a parent hearing a concern from a teacher about your child’s behavior:

“Your son does not consistently follow directions,” vs. “Your son does not yet consistently follow directions.”

Or forget about school for a moment.  Imagine being in a difficult conversation with a colleague at work, or a peer, or a friend.  Imagine these sentences being said in the conversation.

“I don’t really understand your concerns,” vs. “I don’t yet really understand your concerns.”

“We don’t agree,” vs. “We don’t yet agree.”

“Things haven’t improved,” vs. “Things haven’t improved, yet.”

I’ve come to believe that people we’d recognize as “eternal optimists” (or those Dr. Dweck might identify with a strong “growth mindset”) instinctively hear “yet” even in statements where it’s never actually said.  For the rest of us, though, it’s important to remember the power of that word.

Yet.  One word… just three little letters… can transform the meaning of failure.  It’s a core principle of the best teaching and learning.  And I can think of no more genuinely hopeful word that I know.

It's a great day to be a Titan!


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