Image courtesy of Edutopia

Image courtesy of Edutopia

“I can’t get that report done today.”
“I can’t run that far.”
“I can’t do math.”

Think about how many times you have used the word “can’t”…Today? This week? This month? Do you at least think it to yourself a few times, whether you’re at your desk, or on the treadmill? Is it a nightly complaint when it’s time for math homework?

Now, try adding “yet” to the end of every “can’t” statement, or “can’t” thought. See how quickly the mood changes?  You are already thinking about your actions in a more positive way. With a lot of hard work, some support, and a little bit of time, you will finish that report. You will run that 5K. And your kids will figure out how to do that math problem.

The power of “yet” is the foundation of Growth Mindset, a motivational idea pioneered by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck that sees a person’s intelligence, athletic skill, musicianship, etc. as capable of development through continued learning, perseverance, and good mentoring. With this new perspective, people begin to value the learning process, seek out challenges, and take risks – all positive outcomes that others with traditional Fixed Mindsets avoid.

For us at The Think Tank, growth mindset is a guiding philosophy. We have visited dozens of Chicago-area schools over the past few years to present “Pump Up Your Brain!”, a hands-on lesson that is filled with demonstrations and experiments like this one, and is designed to show students the neuroscience behind growth mindset. If they adopt a growth mindset and are willing to practice, their brains will grow stronger and support learning. It’s just basic biology!

Feedback we have received indicates that students are getting our message and having lots of fun along the way. The student comments below speak for themselves:

What was the most interesting or exciting thing in today’s class?
Student: Learning that my brain is like Play-doh. I thought it was like a brick.
Another Student: The connections that this class made to real-world things. Gave me a lot of insight on why I need to work harder to do better at math.
How did this class affect the way you think about science and scientists?
Student: It made them seem more human to me. They aren’t just god given super geniuses. They just practice.
How could we make the class better for the next person?
Student: Make it longer!
Another Student: Nothing to say, this class was AWESOME!!


The power of growth mindset is certainly being felt at The Think Tank, but its positive influence has spread throughout education, business, and professional athletics – all fields where practice gets results.

At this point, you are probably thinking, “If Growth Mindset is good enough for the CEO of Google, professional athletes, and millions of students, then I want in! How can I get one for myself, or promote in my children, or students?” Fortunately, Carol Dweck has developed a simple four-step process for acquiring a Growth Mindset. If you don’t get a chance to have a visit from The Think Tank, check it out, and you will soon realize the transformative power of “yet”!



Dweck, C. (2010). How can you change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset?   Retrieved from


Dweck, C. (2015). Carol Dweck.   Retrieved from


Educational Horizons. (2013). Mindsets: How to Motivate Students (And Yourself). Educational Horizons, 91, 16-21.


Ragan, T. (2015). Growth Mindset Culture.  Retrieved from


Harvard Business Review Staff. (2014). How Companies Can Profit from a "Growth Mindset". Harvard Business Review.




Stein, E. (2014). Creating the Context for Growth Mindsets in the Classroom.   Retrieved from