The Power of Not Yet

Carolyn Dweck, a professor at Stanford University, did a fascinating study she called the “Power of Yet.” Her work gives profound insight into the difference between a fixed, pass/fail mindset and the realm of not yet and endless possibilities. I believe it is a powerful insight into what happens in the middle of what we perceive to be an “stuck” season.

Several years before her research, Dr. Dweck heard about a high school in Chicago that required students to pass a certain number of courses to graduate. If they didn’t meet the criteria, they would receive the grade of Not Yet.

She loved this idea, because in a traditional classroom a failing grade would far too often define the student in life. But Not Yet was a learning curve that gave them a path into the future.

In her research, she gave 10 year olds problems that were slightly too hard, some of them responded in a positive way saying they loved the challenge. They had a growth mindset, that their abilities could be developed. Others felt it was catastrophic; they thought they were failures from a more fixed, pass fail mindset perspective. Dr. Dweck discovered that instead of luxuriating in the power of not yet, they were gripped in the tyranny of now.

In study after study, the fixed mindset students ran from difficulty. Perhaps our goal should not be getting the next A or a constant need for validation, but to embrace the process of Not Yet. I believe this will open the door for perseverance, endurance, and strength building an endless amount of possibilities.

The Not Yet mentality changes the way one thinks. Studies show every time someone pushes out of his or her comfort zone to learn something new and difficult, the neurons in their brain start building new and stronger connections processing the resistance, correcting and learning from it.

This happens because the meaning of effort and difficulty is transformed. Before, difficulty and resistance or a pass/fail mindset will make you feel like giving up. But now, looking at resistance with the growth mindset of endless possibilities your brain creates new neural connections; you actually become smarter by looking at the difficulty from a different perspective. Perhaps your difficulty and resistance in the middle is a growth mindset classroom that IS making you smarter. That resistance you’re feeling—the weight of the difficulty—that feeling of being “stuck” is not a distraction from the dream; it is the path to the dream. It is designed by God to build fortitude, mastery, and inner strength. Inner strength is what creates external power.

What if we all looked at the wait consistently as a Not Yet Zone, rather than through the eyes of whether we pass or fail? (speaking to all the perfectionists!) How would that change everything? Not only would your faith grow to the next level, but you’d become smarter, because that’s how God designed the process! Resistance training is essential to building muscle. It’s definitely painful, but we have to choose it if we want to build muscle capacity to carry weight to become the leaders God has called us to be.

That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy (Romans 8:25).  Where there is no struggle, there is no strength. Even an airplane has to experience resistance airflow to take off. What you consider a failure is actually designed to build into you what you need to walk out the promise God has for you. God uses everything, the good, the bad and the ugly, and he isn’t confined to your perfectly planned out life. Perspective is everything. How you view the waiting process is everything. And it’s fascinating to discover what happens during the wait, when it’s not yet time.

We’ve often been taught in those moments that we need to change something on the outside, whether our surroundings, our friends, or our churches. But honestly, when we begin to feel that tension and that restlessness, a perspective change may be in order first to allow us to see the positive changes that are happening. Perhaps what’s holding us back from taking off isn’t the resistance, but our view of the resistance. What we consider a limitation is really a set up for a take-off.

What I know for sure in my 50+ years, is that you’ve been entrusted with leadership, the process and your perspective. You are not a victim of your circumstances but a leader of change. Never give up, keep going friend, you never know but “perhaps this is the moment for which you’ve been created”(Esther 4:14).


Excerpt from “The Power of Not Yet-Living a Life of Endless Possibilities” by Donna Pisani

Donna Pisani

Donna the author of "The Power of Not Yet - Living a Life of Endless Possibilities" and her husband Dennis are the Lead Pastors of www.capcitychurch.com in the Washington DC metro area. She is the founder of www.bymovement.com and the co-founder of www.therisingdc.com. She's a dreamer, loves adventure and lives for date night with Dennis, family time with her five adult kids and a daily supply of coffee and chocolate. Her greatest passion is to see people empowered to live a life of endless possibilities, connecting with their unique, God given purpose and living fully in their leadership gifts.

You can stay connected to Donna on social FaceBook and Instagram: @donnapisani

*Click here to learn more on the studies of Dr. Dweck. 

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