"The factory of the future will have only two employees: a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment."
Prof. Warren Bennis

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Greetings from a wet and dark day here in Vancouver. I’ve been working on various projects today, and while preparing for a session next month in New York, came upon this great TED Talk from Carol Dweck.



Carol Dweck asks about our children. Are we raising them for now, instead of yet? Are we saying, “perhaps you just don’t have a math brain,” (now) or “wow this is a difficult problem, but with some effort, you’ll get it. Where do you think you should start?” (yet) When we praise or negate our children for their present intelligence,  present skills or beauty we (even) unconsciously set them up for a fixed mindset. However, when we praise or challenge our children about “yet, or not yet;” for their improvement, progress, or effort, we are helping to create a “growth mindset.” This is vital for healthy children as kids with growth mindsets are able to keep learning and growing, skills we need in abundance in adulthood.


I started to wonder then about us as leaders. Are we leading and managing based only on ‘now’ and missing out the tremendous possibilities of ‘yet.’ Are we assuming (a fixed mindset activity) that just because I cannot seem to do it now, I won’t be able to do it later? For example, I’m learning the guitar. I cannot play “Another Saturday Night”, the Sam Cooke song that was a hit for Cat Stevens, yet. That is very different from saying I cannot play the song. As difficult as it is to get my fingers to move from “A” to a “G7” right now, I will play the song, yet.


You see the amazing thing is that even a fixed mindset of many years, can be moved to a growth mindset. We know from the research (David Rock’s, book Quiet Leadership for example) that while it is practically impossible to deconstruct old wiring in the brain, it is easy for us to create new wiring. What that means is that we can change our minds. We can learn. We just have to see the power of growth, the positive power of yet, over the negative drain of now. 


Here are three suggestions to support you in creating a growth mindset in your team or organization:


  1. Start with yourself; work on your own language about yourself, especially when you make mistakes. When you change your self talk about your own mistakes into learning moments, you’ll find it far easier with to do that with individuals with whom you work.
  2. Praise wisely. Do not talk about a person’s talents or even gifts; praise them for their work and effort, the process and progress they have made.
  3. Support people in the change of mindset. Show people the data, play this TED Talk for them, or introduce them to David Rock’s work to show them that new ways and means are possible. The science is clear, our abilities are capable of great growth, at any age.



May this week be a week of learning and “yet.”