The Power Of Yet

The word yet, while only 3 letters has a very powerful place in the mindset of the Everyday Warrior.  Within those 3 letters are the keys of hope, perseverance, forgiveness, persistence, and success.  Life is a continuum.  It is ever changing, ever moving, and ever evolving.  We have the power to choose how we proceed within our journey - which journeys we embark upon, which ones we do not, and when we start or end each of the many journeys within our lifetime.

One thing I work to instill within my two daughters, as well as my students, is the  power of yet. This happens through a reframing of our inner dialogue, our beliefs, and perspective of ourselves and the world.  Here is an example:

"I can't do math."  This is a finite and exclusive statement.  It implies that not only can this person not do any math at all, it also carries with it the notion that he or she will never do math.

Now if we are break this down and reframe it, we must first pinpoint which mathematic skill is giving this person trouble.  The reality is we all use math in some form on a continual basis in our everyday lives.  From recipes, measurements, distance, money, calculating time, etc., math is embedded in our lives.  As a teacher of high school math courses, I hear this statement quite often - especially in students who have taken and failed their math exams and are now faced with having to take it again.

First, let's break this statement down to be more specific.  Instead of, "I can't do math" let's be more specific. "I can't solve literal equations."  This is still a pretty concrete statement with many negative connotations.  However, through the power of yet, we can reframe this to read, "I am not able to solve literal equations yet."  With that one word, we open a whole new world of thinking.  We give this person permission to struggle with literal equations, not beat themselves up over it and open up the certainty that they will be able to solve them in the future.

The struggle is part of the process.  It is a necessary part of the process. (To read more about this and "leveling up" click here.)  Every new skill from tying our shoes, to riding a bike, to cooking, to using a computer, is difficult when we start.  Of course it is - we have never done it before.  There will undoubtedly, and expectantly be a learning curve.  There will be multiple cycles of struggle, small successes, more struggling and frustration, and more successes. In each of those phases we are moving forward.  Instilling the use of the word yet gives us permission to go through each cycle in a more fluid and transformative manner. Without it, we face a very concrete and narrow wall of either do or don't in a one chance deal.

Getting back to our math example we now have opened up the mind to the idea that yes, at this moment this person is struggling to understand or gain the skills to solve literal equations, but with continued work and practice, he or she can and will improve and get better.  The skill will not become easier; the student will become better as he or she strengthens their knowledge and makes connections among the necessary skills needed to solve these kinds of equations.

I leave you with an exercise of the mind.  What is it you are struggling with?  What is one thing you want or wish you were doing better at?  Keep this in mind as you go through your day and pay attention to the conversation you have with yourself around it.  In other words, call yourself out for your own thoughts.  When you begin to attend to that ongoing inner dialogue we all have with ourselves, consciously start to become aware of how you talk within yourself.  Do you use the word "can't" a lot?  Do you negatively berate yourself over not doing something or not doing something better than you did?

It is time to change that conversation.  Start adding the word yet to some of those negative statements.  Reframe your thoughts from something concrete and absolute into something more fluid and versatile.  You are moving forward.  You will get there if you choose to put in the time and work.  You may just not be there ...yet!