“No doesn’t mean never. It just means Not Yet.”
The traffic light- invented in 1923 by Garrett Morgan [one of the pioneer African American inventors of his time] completely revolutionized traffic control. It has three popular colors: Red, Green, and Amber. Each light connotes different commands when we’re at a traffic junction. ‘Red’ tells us to halt, ‘green’ signals we’re ok to move and ‘amber’ advises us to prepare for the next event- either stop [red] or move [green].
Today, the traffic light system has become a necessity on our roads but more than just for traffic control- it’s now adopted in different endeavors as ranking/grading/appraisal templates. As expected, more often than not- everyone would push to get into a ‘green’ and avoid a ‘red’. But interestingly one very important color coding is the color ‘amber’
Amber depicts a transition phase as it speaks to momentum…being that mental disposition that places us in a ‘not-yet’ mindset. This simply means, we may not be exactly where we want to be, but, we’ve made a move in the right direction and so progressing ahead of ‘red’ as we’re on track to eventually get to ‘green’.
But how does observing the assessment on an opportunity through the amber filter change things altogether or suddenly lead to that winning mindset?
Renowned Stanford professor; Caro, Dweck holds more answers to questions on the ‘Not-Yet’ state of Mind. She explains in her book “Mindset… The New Psychology of Success” how students at a Chicago high school were given the grade of “Not Yet” if they hadn’t passed all of the necessary courses they needed to graduate. This was clearly an unconventionally better approach to considering tough incidences like difficulty, challenge, and especially failure.
Basically, with the Not-Yet mentality, it felt a lot less final and more importantly- indicated some light at the end of the tunnel- suggesting that change was indeed possible and that there is room for improvement and time to grow into what is necessary to succeed. Rather than being a “No,” it’s more like a “Not quite. Keep trying.”
As Dweck explains, “When you get a grade of ‘Not-Yet,’ you understand that you’re on a learning curve. It gives you a path into the future.” It gives you something to work towards, and to strive for. It gives you purpose. But even more than that, though, it makes whatever you are trying to achieve seem possible. “Not yet” suggests that you can and will get there, at some point. You’re just not there right now.
Mindsets: Growth & Fixed
Dweck talked about the fixed mindset being the understanding that Talents, Intelligence are fixed traits that were established at birth and remain the same as they cannot be changed
Conversely, she advises that those who adopt the growth mindset believe their Talents, skills, and intelligence are malleable traits that can and will change with disciplined practice and efforts. This fundamentally different philosophy [as compared with the fixed mindset] is articulated by the appending word – yet
Globally, there’s been a lot of discussion on changing one’s mindset and thus changing one’s life! At face value, it does appear quite easy, yet when it comes to putting this into action, for instance- you will hear people talk about it being too late to learn something brand new or switch careers or even start a new life altogether and let go completely of the past.
The problem comes down to living with these limiting beliefs as they literally give life to a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you believe you can’t, then you really can’t as we’re the sum total of our thoughts. Conversely, if we rather live in a state of ‘not-yet’; then even if we haven’t achieved that goal or objective, we have a clear path to achieving it -in just a matter of time!
I believe our thoughts have incredible power over our everyday lives, and that our moods and behaviors are a reflection of how we think. Over the years, I’ve developed mental hacks to ensure I’m always in the right frame of mind to be successful and happy — and it starts with imagining possibilities instead of focusing on roadblocks
“Knowledge is power: You hear it all the time but knowledge is not power. It’s only potential power. It only becomes power when we apply it and use it.
… If knowing is half the battle, action is the second half of the battle.”
― Jim Kwik
Bringing the Not-Yet Mentality to life
Angela Duckworth in her book “Grit” lays down similar principles very consistent with Carol Dweck’s work. All are crystal clear pointers to the same thing: the Growth mindset which would give rise to the Not-Yet mentality is more of Practice than just merely a belief system that one may adopt
This is because, even with 100% understanding of the ‘Not-Yet’ state of mind as being an answer to a lot of my problems back then, I still kept ‘slipping’ into the same legacy thinking [fixed mindset] until I began to act. Basically- just the fact that ‘I knew’ [acquired knowledge] about a thing was in no way truly sufficient in itself to take me home.
A few areas that can help support us whilst activating and achieving the best out of the ‘Not-Yet’ mindset would include:
- Constant Reviews: We need to do this by continuously appraising our actions day to day and taking stock of our activities to ensure we’re truly deploying the ‘not-yet’ state of mind
- Become the observer of our thoughts: Stepping aside for a bit to objectively audit our thoughts. This would help in controlling our thoughts from drifting into the fixed mindset.
- Embrace reality: The reality is we will all swing between fixed and growth mindsets by default. The onus, therefore, rests on us to continuously stay on guard to swing towards the growth mindset. Bringing ourselves to terms with this is critical and would ensure we can pivot back to the ‘Not-yet’ state of mind [growth mindset] whenever we find ourselves swaying to the fixed mindset
- Fail Forward: Approaching every single failure as a learning curve will ensure we continue to ‘fail forward’. This also means turning every failure into a ‘lesson-learned’ portfolio where one can extract the major lessons learned to re-apply in future activities-being another way not to do an activity
The Not-Yet mentality creates a positive trajectory for continuous improvements in our daily lives. This is a proven system to drive sequential improvements in our day-to-day endeavors