Take any negative sentence about yourself, or one of your important relationships, and then add the word “yet.” Remove hyperbolic words like “never” or “always.” Sometimes you need to do a bit of grammatical tweaking, but notice what happens:
“I can’t sing. Yet.”
“You don’t understand me. Yet.”
“We’ll never figure this out. Yet.”
Obviously this bit of advice is oversimplistic. There are many situations that need to be solved with much more than an attitude adjustment or a silly exercise in language. But, I would argue, there are countless opportunities to consider the potential of “yet.”
Speaking from my point of view as a parent, I want my child to think of himself as a beautifully unfinished piece of business. At the age of eleven, he shouldn’t think that there’s anything he can’t try. So when he tells me that he “can’t” do something, I want him to add the word “yet.” He doesn’t have to achieve world-class status at any of these pursuits, but I want him to think about possibilities.
Speaking for myself, I don’t ever want to think that I’m finished learning or gaining new skills. Given my age, I’m willing to concede certain restrictions to this broad claim. I won’t compete in the Olympics. I won’t join the military (not that that was an option earlier in my life, but I do love the motto: “It’s not just a job; it’s an adventure…”). I won’t bear more children (although I would argue that child bearing is not a skill to be learned, whereas child rearing is a constantly evolving area of growth). And that brings me back to the parenting perspective: If I don’t model this kind of optimism for my child, who will?
I could, and might, still:
- learn an additional language,
- earn another degree (I know the Husband is reading this blog, but he’ll just have to live with this possibility).
- learn to play piano,
- become a professional chef, photographer, or speechwriter, or
- win a Pulitzer (OK, this is really a mental indulgence of great hubris).
Despite all of these thrilling ideas, this post isn’t about me. It’s about willingness to consider the possibility rather than the limitations.
What can’t YOU do…yet? Name it, want it, make it happen. And when you make it happen, think about all the people who are learning from your example.
We are role models, people.