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Changing One Word Can Change Everything — By Miriam Haart

Engineer, innovator and speaker Miriam Haart is a contributor to Rebel Girls’ new book Dear Rebel, in which 145 trailblazing women share their advice for the girls of today. For more incredible stories, letters, and advice, preorder Dear Rebel now.

Changing One Word Can Change Everything

By Miriam Haart

Dear Rebel Family,

I want to share with you the best advice I ever received…ever. It was the summer of 2016, I was sixteen years old and living in San Francisco. I attended an app development summer camp and had the best summer of my life. I learned how to build incredible iOS apps, but before they started teaching us how to build apps, the program coordinators taught us something even more important. They gave us the advice that changed my life forever. The advice they shared with me applies to every aspect of my life and can apply to every aspect of yours. That is cool, isn’t it?

So what is this advice that is so revolutionary? Before I tell you what it is, I want to tell you who came up with it. Her name is Dr. Carol Dweck. Dr. Dweck is a renowned American psychologist who conducts her research at Stanford University, the school I went to! Dr. Dweck’s research focuses on motivation and mindsets. A mindset is a strong belief you have that influences how you interact with the world. What Dr. Dweck so famously discovered, is the advice that I received during my summer in San Francisco. To this day, I want to thank Carol!

“Oftentimes people live a life focused on what they already know because stepping into the unknown seems scary and uncomfortable.”

Dr. Dweck coined the term, ‘The Growth Mindset’. Dweck talks about the idea that oftentimes people live a life focused on what they already know because stepping into the unknown seems scary and uncomfortable. Staying fixed with what you know is what she calls the ‘Fixed Mindset’. That being, not being comfortable with trying something new and not really having much belief in yourself. Having a fixed mindset is normal and okay. Going into my program in SF, I had somewhat of a fixed mindset. I was scared that I would not be able to code like the other kids. I was afraid that I would not understand what was being taught and I would be stuck behind.

That is why the program coordinators taught us ‘The Growth Mindset’, changing my life completely. The growth mindset is not about just deciding to believe in yourself, an idea that is way easier said than done. Rather, it is about adopting a framework, a set of rules, to help you open yourself up to the idea of growing. The advice that I received was on how to adopt the ‘Growth Mindset’ and get rid of my ‘Fixed Mindset’.

“The growth mindset is not just about deciding to believe in yourself, rather, it is about adopting a set of rules to help you open yourself up to the idea of growing.”

The best part about this is that adopting the growth mindset is actually easy! That is the most incredible part! All you have to do is change one thing. That is your vocabulary. That’s it. What do I mean by that exactly? Well, instead of saying, “I don’t know how to do this” or “I can’t”. Both being very limiting phrases, just do one thing that changes everything. Add the word “yet”. Say, “I don’t know how to do this, yet”. “I can’t do this, yet”. Adding the word yet allows you to have room to grow! It gives you space to believe in yourself. Once I started adopting the growth mindset, I stopped saying “can’t” or “no” to myself. My mind began to expand, and I started to believe that I could do anything if I applied myself.

“Instead of saying, ‘I can’t do this’… say, ‘I can’t do this, yet.’”

The best advice I ever received was to adopt the growth mindset. I changed my vocabulary to give myself space to grow, and slowly started to believe in myself in ways that I never thought were possible. I hope from here you learn that you can develop a growth mindset too. All it takes is just one word. Yet. Shoutout to Carol Dweck and her amazing research for coining these mindsets and helping all of us grow in ways we never thought were possible. Why don’t you give it a try? Until next time, stay rebel.

Miriam Haart is an American engineer, innovator, and speaker who was raised in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. She stars in the reality show My Unorthodox Life and hosts the podcast Faking It.

Check out her story and more in Dear Rebel, available for preorder now.