How to Use The Most Powerful Word in the Universe: ‘YET’

Yet.  I haven’t met a more powerful word – yet! I really believe that it is the most powerful word in the universe. It has the ability to move us from one state to another in an instant. I can honestly say that using this word is central to what we do at Hummingbird Learning Centre®.

Perfection can be paralysingPerfection

In today’s society, we are too focused on perfection. Homework has to be correct – every day!  100% has to be the norm. Win the match, be a size 10, be the fastest.  ‘But we need to be striving for something Elaine. We need to have goals’. I hear you. And you’re right, we do need to aim for something, but in aiming for something we also have to accept that it may take time and we may make lots of mistakes along the way.

When we make a definitive statement like ‘I’m no good at it’. we are making a statement that we accept as a fact. There is no room for manoeuvre. You can hear the sense of failure and despondency in the sentence; I am no good at it, never was, never will be.  Children today expect to be able to do things straight away. We live in a very instant world. we expect to get things done, done perfectly and quickly. Think about the last time you sighed waiting for your computer to boot up, it only took seconds but it was an inconvenience.

Likewise, when children are asked a question they are expected to answer correctly straight away or they are told that they do not know something. But some children need a little time to recall information, check within themselves that it feels right and then answer.  Sometimes, they are so paralysed by fear of getting something wrong, that they are afraid to answer & would rather give the impression that they didn’t know something.

How ‘Yet’ Helps

When we make a definitive statement such as I can’t do something, our state of learning shuts down. It stops looking for ways to do it. Everything comes to a complete full stop and there is no way forward. However, once you put the word ‘yet’ at the end of the sentence, everything changes. It moves from a place not being able to do to something to opening up the acceptance that you will be able to do it at some stage in the future.

Now, as physicists will tell us, time (as we tend to think of it) doesn’t actually exist. Its how we experience time that counts.  Think about it, you’re out having a great night and you look at your watch or phone and it’s 10:30 already. You look at it a little later & suddenly it’s 12:30! Time really does fly when we’re having fun and crawls when we are bored or waiting on something.

Break timeWhen we add the word ‘yet’ to a definitive statement, we tell the brain that while we may not be able to do something right now, we will be able to do it at some stage in the future.  This future date is gloriously vague, it might be in 3 days time or 3 seconds time but the brain is immediately working on the task. You have shifted back into the learning state. You know that you are going to be able to do it.

Take a break

Once the person has moved from ‘I can’t do it’, to ‘I can’t do it yet’, I recommend doing a little bit of practising or starting to work on the task at hand. If they make mistakes, wonderful!! That is probably the best think that can happen. Mistakes are fantastic, we learn so much from them. Making mistakes is the best time to use your new mantra’I …. yet’ .  I like to add one other word, ‘I just……..yet’; I just can’t do it yet, I’m just not good at it yet.

After practising for a while, take a break. Walk the dog, have your dinner, jump in the shower, play sports, talk to your family. It doesn’t matter what it is – just make sure it is completely unrelated to what you were doing. Your brain will continue to work away in the background on the task you were unable to do – yet!

Very often, you will recall instantly what you were learning to do. You will find that you will have made improvements or may even have solved the puzzle.

‘Yet’ is such a tiny little word and yet it can completely change our lives.

Are you using yet? Yet?

If you think that your child needs our help then contact us on 087 2996054 or email


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