Updated: Aug 24
A simple word or turn of phrase can transform what’s possible.
One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is my morning walk with my now nine-year-old nephew. I marvel at how inquisitive he is. Rarely is there a second of silence. He is constantly questioning something or describing all aspects of his life as a fourth grader. On one particular walk this holiday, my nephew began telling me how much he loves school. “Uncle Darren, I have all As, except in history,” he told me. “I'm not good at history,” he confessed. Just as he was about to start his next sentence, I interrupted him. “What is the one word you could add to the end of that last sentence that would make all the difference?” I asked. He thought about it for a moment and then yelled “yet!” “Exactly,” I said. “I'm not good at history yet. Doesn't that sound better?” He smiled in agreement.
The Stanford psychology professor, Carol Dweck, has spent decades researching the impact on performance of a growth mindset – the belief that ability and intelligence are not fixed and can be cultivated through effort. So conclusive are the results of her research that companies like Microsoft have adopted growth mindset as a core part of their learning and development curriculum. Similarly, schools across the world have incorporated growth mindset into their curriculum. The evidence shows that the simple intervention of teaching students the distinction between a fixed and growth mindset can result in a significant improvement in learning outcomes. And it turns out that the simple word “yet” can serve as the catalyst to shift to a growth mindset.
I came home from that walk secretly hopeful that my small reminder to my nephew that we can control how we define ourselves may have shifted something inside of him. I know it did for me. It was a reminder of all the places in my life where a simple turn of phrase can literally transform what's possible.
I finally finished The Overstory by Richard Powers. Wow, what a novel. Sometimes it takes a work of great fiction to open our hearts and minds. This book did that for me.
Keanu Reeves has always been a mystery to me. This Esquire article, “Keanu Reeves Knows the Secrets of the Universe,” reveals some of what’s underneath the character we all seem to wonder about.
This New York Times piece on Hayao Miyazaki, considered by many to be the best animated filmmaker ever, is excellent.