Can Adults Benefit from the Concept of Not Yet too? Yes they can!

growth-mindset-brain-scan-square-450x449Do you or those with whom you work or live often give up or shut down when a skill or concept is a bit out of reach? Are you or those you work with using language like; “it can’t be done,” “I can’t do it,” “I don’t know how,” or “It can’t happen?” You might be dealing with a fixed mindset that needs to be shifted so you (or the person in question) can grow.

This past year, I’ve talked a lot about the concept of “Not Yet” when presenting to business leaders and adults who work with children, teens and young adults. The idea of “not yet” here comes from Carol Dweck who discusses the “Not Yet” concept when presenting about shifting the mindset of young people. When we use the concept of “not yet,” she explains, we set children up with a growth mindset—one that allows them to see that while they have “not yet” mastered a new concept, they are on their way. They are making progress.

Those who had a fixed mindset only focused on the fact that they hadn’t mastered a skill “now” and therefore were more likely to cheat and assume they were unlikely to improve. “Not Yet” can make a big difference. Interestingly, they use the concept of “not yet” in my children’s school. And yes- I think we are missing something if we only apply it to kids.

So what about the concept of “Not Yet” for adults?

Whether you are an entrepreneur, parent, coach, teacher, CEO or business employee, you, too, have to shift your mindset to one that embraces “not yet.” Do you believe you can improve? Do you have room to try out new skills so you can get better? As adults, it’s so easy to get stuck in a rut perpetuating the myth of “this is how it’s always been done” or “old dogs can’t learn new tricks.”

Frankly, I think that is a bunch of garbage.

Do you want to employ the concept of “not yet” and change your results? Then, let’s go for it.

Here are some quick tips to keep in mind:

  • Try new skills with the knowledge that you WILL improve. You may not have the concept “yet” but it’s simply a matter of time and practice. Believe that you will improve and master the concept.
  • Stop the negative self talk. Having a negative nag in your ear is never a helpful strategy for success. Answer negative self talk with the concept of “not yet” and then keep practicing and working towards your goals.
  • Show yourself the evidence: As you work to improve, chart or write down your progress. Learning to become a “runner” for the first time? Write down how long you were able to run for today. Trying to stay calm in the morning rush without yelling? Chart how long you were able to make it this week and what strategies worked for you. Trying to get better at presenting at work in front of others? Write down what you did better today (clear voice, clear concept, succinct points, etc). When you look at the evidence, you will see how you are improving over time.
  • Keep going: If Rome wasn’t built in a day, 1000 practices before you become an expert and it takes at least 30 days to create a habit, how long will it take you to see improvements? That might seem like one of those convoluted word problems from middle school but the point is—improvements take time. Don’t stop. Persevere. Engage that indomitable spirit and you will leave your fixed mindset in the dust.

Remember to embrace yourself as a learner who can improve. You are “in process.” You may not have the skill, the concept, or the knowledge today—but that doesn’t mean you won’t in time. You just don’t have it yet.

Dr. Robyn Signature




Carol Dweck: “The Power of Believing That You Can Improve”.

Dweck, C. (2012) Mindset: How You Can Fulfill Your Potential, New York: Random House.

Progress from Imperfection: Making Room for Mistakes, Doubt and Risk Personally and Professionally

i-am-a-work-in-progress_bigstock-450x452Women (and many men too) are notorious for aiming for perfect. Whether it’s in parenthood, the workplace, our looks or the overall appearance that we have it all together, imperfections are painted over with a broad brush.

The result?

Low risk. Low reward.

Our lack of honesty with ourselves and others is hurting much more than it’s helping.

For any of us to move forward in any realm of life, there must be room to make mistakes. To take the risks. To swim in doubt. To be authentic and imperfect and unsure on our path to success. Living a photoshopped life grounded in reality show flawlessness and Facebook photo perfection does not lead to forward movement.

So here’s some food for thought.

  • When do you feel most connected with people? To truly connect, we must be real. Think about those friends, work buddies, clients or relatives in your life to whom you feel the closest. They know the real you, don’t they? The messy you. And it’s this raw honesty that allows the relationships to deepen. When we reveal our concerns, doubts and mistakes along with the strengths and accomplishments, you allow others to love you for who you are rather than who you project yourself to be. And the relationship authenticity can then go both ways.
  • When can you progress as a parent, professional, athlete or performer? It’s when you take risks and go beyond your comfort zone, isn’t it? When trying a new technique or going down a path you have not yet visited, it’s hard to be perfect. We must embrace ourselves as the learners we are so we can take risks without the baggage. Each time we learn—each time we make a mistake—we become stronger, more knowledgeable and ironically, more successful.
  • When can you figure out your next steps in life? It’s often when we provide room for doubt. If we continue to plug in the next move, the next job and the next conversation without providing space and time to figure out what we do and don’t want, we can be squelching our true, thought-out next steps. We must be able to ask ourselves, whether professionally or personally; “Am I happy with the direction I am going? Do I want to change my trajectory? Do I want to try something new? What do I truly want?” Doubt can be uncomfortable—but it’s a necessary vehicle for progress.

Life is not perfect. We must stop striving for perfection and instead, try for our best. Try for learning. Try for better, stronger, more nuanced and more open than yesterday. Life is messy, weird and wonderful. We make progress from imperfection. Letting go of perfect can feel like it’s shining high beams on our weaknesses but in actuality, it demonstrates our courage and strength.

Go for it!

Dr. Robyn Signature




International Women’s Day: What Stands in the Way of More Women Leaders?

silverman_headshotIt’s International Women’s Day—a day to reflect on the amazing women and girls in our lives but also to ponder what’s to come for the up and coming women in the world.

As the mother of a young girl and a speaker who works with girls and women with regard to leadership, confidence, mentoring, and the barriers that stand in our way, I see so much potential in today’s girls.  Yet, I think there is some work to do in order to help them to become the leaders they are meant to be.

We know that there is still an imbalance when it comes to the number of women vs men in leadership positions. This is true in business as well as in government.  Women have a great deal to offer but many are not taking their rightful place in this world—which for many, is in front…leading the pack.

How do potential women leaders stand in their own way of success?

(1) Pleasing others instead of pleasing ourselves:  Many girls and women are known “people pleasers.” They want to be liked. They want to be admired. They want to feel useful.  And while there is nothing wrong with being liked, admired, and useful—many girls and women will sacrifice what they want in order to “do” for others.  Leaders do what is right and what is needed- but they also follow their own bliss.  They assume their rightful place in this world not because others put them there or others don’t want the job but because they are doing exactly what they were meant to do.  When a girl or woman follows her our own bliss, they are always in the lead. Nobody can usurp the position that has someone else’s name on it.

(2) Perception of ceiling: We’ve heard for years about a glass ceiling that is impenetrable by women in business.  But every time I hear something like that, I think of Roger Bannister, a runner who was told it was impossible to run a 4-minute mile.  It had never been done! And then he did it. Immediately following, others did it. I think if we sell ourselves and our daughters a bill of goods that this ceiling exists, they will believe it.  What they believe is what they will see.  Leaders don’t look at ceilings—they look at what’s beyond it.

(3) Distraction: Girls receive hundreds of messages each day telling them that they need to look and act a certain way if they are going to be deemed worthy by others.  Questions loom in their heads; Am I thin enough? Too ugly?  Pretty? Do I seem like too much of a know-it-all?  Do people like me? Do guys like me?  Am I sexy? As I told the New York Times when they did a piece yesterday about girls’ need to always be camera ready, “the preoccupation with ‘How do I look?’ may well be getting in the way of living authentically. They are looking outward in at themselves — constantly thinking of the mirror rather than being fully engaged in the conversation, the activity or the learning.” With one eye on one’s goals and another eye on how they look (or how they think they are perceived) while going after their goals, how are girls supposed to make it to the top?

(4) The ‘who the heck do you think you are’ complex? I have had my own run-ins with this goal-grabbing question.  It’s the lesser-known cousin of “survivor guilt.” We question our right to achieve—and even the right to consider going after a particular goal. Am I worthy enough? What will others think? Why would anyone want to work with me? Why would anyone want to give me this chance, this job, or this award?  Leaders don’t wonder if they should achieve, they make it happen.

(5) Overloaded- all things to all people: We are notorious for over-scheduling. We say yes. We over-yes.  Spread so thin we nearly crack, our ability to concentrate on our own gifts and our own path diminish. Who has the time?  Leaders don’t just make the time amidst everything.  They say ‘no’ to many opportunities or requests so that they can honor the path they are on.

(6) Lack of tangible, known women role models & mentors: With so many anti-role models out there, it’s difficult at times to tease out who the winners are.  Women in power are often cut down and labeled in a snarky world of politics and Hollywood appearance standards. Reality TV stars from girls glamorized on 16 and pregnant to Snooki getting into bar fights and hooking up, are lavished with attention and paid handsomely for their appearances nation-wide. The message tells us that those women and girls who are celebrated are not those who do great things but those who entertain us, look the part, and do what will get ratings.  Step out of line and you will be denigrated. We need our girls to align themselves with real, unscripted mentors and leaders who can show them what true strength, perseverance, and courage looks like.  No matter what other people say.

(7) Asking the wrong question: Many girls and women allow themselves to get sidetracked and shut down on their path to success when someone doesn’t like their idea, doesn’t want to help them, or has a bad attitude.  Girls often wonder; “How can I change her mind? “ They begin to ponder; “if only she were different, then I could…” They allow the power to rest in their challenger rather than within themselves. No. Leaders take control. They accept the fact that a barrier exists and then ask themselves; “how can I get what I want or need even if this barrier is standing in my way?”

And while there needs to be an education process—to show men and boys what girls and women can offer without the *nudge, nudge, wink, wink* that statement often is slathered with—I refuse to say that the end-all-be-all answer to more women leaders lies in the hands of changing the minds of our men. Yes, as a mother of a boy I have a responsibility to raise a man who respects women—but I also must be accountable for the type of gutsy, focused, authentic girl I raise too. Not to mention, I must show her an example of what it means to be a female leader in my own life.

Who the heck do I think I am?  I’m her mother.


PS. My friend, Amy Jussel, wrote an outstanding piece regarding what people are doing with social media and education to celebrate International Women’s Day…here.

International Women’s Day: What Stands in the Way of More Women Leaders? is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System