The power of yet: Coaching for growth mindset

by Rossana Espinoza 0

The power of yet: Coaching for growth mindset



Fulfilling people’s potential is a well-known mission statement of what we, as coaches, strive to do. Growth mindset is at the heart of this desire of helping other succeed. The study of growth mindset started with children, as part of a study by Carol Dweck. Those children were given puzzles to solve. Some of them showed they were stimulated by the trials and errors, encouraged to try more, motivated to learn from their mistakes if they occurred. One of them even said: Ooh, I am not good at solving puzzles yet. Whilst other children weren’t so taken with making mistakes and felt discouraged.

Based on studies at school level, Carol Dweck coined Growth mindset and its alternative fixed mindset. Similar studies were then conducted in Future 500 organisations. As put by Dweck:

  • Fixed mindset: Believe intelligence is fixed. Making effort makes one feel dumb. Trying is considered the first step to failure. Worry to appear smart at all cost.
  • Growth mindset: Believe intelligence can be developed through effort, dedication, mentorship from others. Experience that effort activates ability. Care about learning even more than garnering the accolades.

Inspired by the stories of successful people – who weren’t originally considered successful and high achievers, such as Albert Einstein (who was delayed in learning to speak and read and was not considered smart at school) and Michael Jordan (regarded as one of the best if not the best basketball player, who was rejected from his university basketball team) – Growth mindset invites us to consider that success and achievement are not necessarily about talent or gift but effort (as one of the means), desire for learning, curiosity, perseverance and resilience to learn and kept trying despite the setbacks. There are good news here. First one, we are all a mix of both mindsets. Second, growth mindset can be taught. Third, one way to exert change in growth mindset may be with applying changes in what we say.

Coming back to the experiments conducted by Carol Dweck mentioned at the start of this blog, including the student who said: ‘Ooh I am not good at solving puzzles yet’. I’d like to ask you ‘what is the power of yet?’ yet is a magical word. Consider the difference between the below two statements:

  • I am not good at Maths
  • Ooh, I am not a good at Maths yet.

We, human beings, begin life being curious, courageous, uninhibited to try and learn continuously. During our life journey, however, we may have learned to stop ourselves doing or trying new and difficult things, things that may be beyond our comfort zone. A small change in the statement above and what we usually say may create a window of opportunity for potential to be created and perhaps be fulfilled.

In this week’s chat, #CoachingHE seeks to explore:

  • What examples of coaching for growth mindset have you come across/been involved with?
  • What is the role of the coach when coaching for growth mindset?
  • In what circumstances coaching for growth mindset may be the approach to go for and when it is not?
  • What considerations/tips when coaching for growth mindset could you share with #CoachingHE?


Dr Rossana Espinoza


Staff Development Forum