“Not Yet” — The Most Important Mindset for Growth

You’re not a failure; you just haven’t got it yet

Allison Burney
4 min readDec 5, 2019

I just watched one of the most fascinating TED talks I’ve seen recently.

In it, Psychology professor and researcher Carol Dweck discusses the power of believing that you can improve.

This is also called “growth mindset.” It’s the idea that abilities aren’t fixed; but rather that they can be developed and improved upon with effort and perseverance.

I first heard the term growth mindset a few years ago, and Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success got added to my “to read” list shortly after — only to stay there ever since.

I’d completely forgotten about it, and it wasn’t until I was browsing through the list of TED talks last night that it re-appeared and sparked my interest all over again.

She starts off the talk by explaining how students at a Chicago high school were getting the grade of “Not Yet” if they hadn’t passed all the necessary courses they needed to graduate.

While certainly not conventional, it may be a better way to look at and cope with things like difficulty, challenge, and especially failure.

For one thing, it feels a lot less final. It suggests that change is 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.

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.

I can’t speak to how feasible or practical this kind of grading system would really be, but I do know that this way of thinking can be applied to much more than just school. I can see how adopting this mindset of “Not Yet” could serve me in my…



Allison Burney

Writer, ghostwriter & proofreader. On a mission to keep exploring, learning & enjoying this adventure we call life. Work with me: allisonburney.com