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What is self efficacy and how to improve yours

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What is self efficacy and how to improve yours

A happy, peaceful and satisfied life is a gift which is not known to many. We emphasize so much on how we should do what we love the most yet we end up living the most boring lives.

If you like writing, makeup or anything which depicts your creativity, people discourage you because the money being offered isn’t enough.

We all remember Jim Carrey saying “I wish everyone could be famous and rich, so that they know that this isn’t the answer.”

These words hit me hard when I heard them and since that day, I’ve spent my life writing and trying to bring the best of me out.

What is Self-Efficacy?

Self-efficacy can be defined as a thought process which enables you to understand your ability to do a task and how good you can perform the following task.

For example if you ask Ronaldo about his goal scoring in tonight’s match, he might be very confident about it and he would probably respond with a number of goals he is confident to score.

But similarly, if you asked him a different question, let’s say, if you asked Ronaldo about how confident he is about flying a jet or cooking a meal, his answer might be different.

Your confidence in a certain ability is the literal definition of the word efficacy. However, there are many aspects of self-efficacy which you need to understand in order to master your grasp over life.

Mastering life is an art, art not known to everyone, we have seen movies like the Green Mile showing how people end up with regrets wishing that they had made different choices and lived differently.

There is much more to life if you start pondering over what you wanted to be and where life has brought you.

How can you improve self-efficacy and master your grasp over it?

You never know which path is right for you unless you start the journey, it might take you to oblivion or bring you back to the ground but you won’t ever know unless you give it a shot.

Self-confidence and self-efficacy are pretty much connected to each other. To attain the best of it, you need to learn how to live your life to the fullest.

Never give up on your dreams and always keep your calm, these words have been told to us over and over throughout our lives, but we never actually worked on them.

Being steadfast in life is the most important trait which every human should master. For a smoker, he/she thinks every day that they will quit smoking but they never do.

They might even quit for a day or two, or max a week, but then they are taken over by their needs.

1. Always start with I can!

This phrase is the most important phrase in this entire article, always say you can and you will. No matter what the challenge is, once accepted, there is no going back.

Only cowards look back and change their decisions. Always remain steadfast and think that you can do it. For example, if you want to sing and you aren’t that good at it, keep practicing.

One day you will achieve what you want to achieve regardless of what people keep telling you. If you others can, so can you so keep working on it.

Nothing in this world is impossible, the stronger the will, the harder the path, the greater the reward will be.

2. Talk to the man in the mirror

The man in the mirror knows more about you than you think you know. Always dig deep within yourself for answers and trust me you will never be disappointed.

There are two types of overthinkers, one who think the world is against them and always think negative and the ones who think to learn and grow, who think positively about everything.

Ponder over your life and wonder how can you make it better. Know what you want in life and know what you are good at. The better you know your abilities the closer you get to achieving self-efficacy.

3. Set your goals straight

Once you know what you want in life, it is easier for you to proceed in life. If you don’t know what you want to be, how in the world do you think you can pursue that dream?

If I wanted to be an engineer and I took admission in a medical college, you wouldn’t think highly of me. Once you’ve set your goals straight, now plan in a chronological order. Things which you will be required to do in order to achieve your goal.

4. Bring more productivity in your life

Productivity is correlated to the amount of happiness, the more you try to be a better person and the more productive your day is, the happier you are.

You don’t have to do much if you want to be productive. I’m not asking you to master neuroscience overnight, just do it bit by bit.

Every day you will realize that you will be a step closer to your dream even if you’re taking baby steps.

Whenever you feel like giving up, just remember Coca-Cola sold only 50 bottles in their first year but they never gave up and now look at them.

5. Keep yourself motivated and work hard

It is normal to lose motivation and feel depressed but there are ways to snap out of it. Keeping yourself motivated is like keeping your body hydrated.

Always know what motivates you, it might be the picture or thought of someone you love, or you can always watch millionaires motivate you on YouTube.

Motivation is directly proportional to working hard, the more motivated you are the harder your work. Working hard is essential if you want to achieve something which people have been telling you that you can’t.

Just know that you can do it and keep going. Don’t stop no matter what happens, because we never say never.

What is self efficacy and how to improve yoursSelf-efficacy is a person’s belief about whether he or she possesses the necessary skills to complete tasks and achieve goals.

What is Self-Efficacy?

Self-efficacy is similar in some ways to self-confidence, but focuses more on an individual’s belief in his or her ability to competently do things rather than his or her beliefs about his or her own worth.

The concept of self-efficacy was developed by child psychologist Albert Bandura, as part of his theory of social-cognitive learning. Social-cognitive learning focuses on learning by observation. Self-efficacy is critical to learning, according to Bandura, because people with a high-degree of self-efficacy have a strong incentive to learn. They tend to view new or challenging tasks as goals over which to gain mastery rather than as overwhelming setbacks at which they might fail.

Role of Self-Efficacy in Learning

People with high self-efficacy tend to have an internal locus of control, which means they believe that they can control what happens to them. People with low self-efficacy and an external locus of control, by contrast, tend to believe that external events and forces control their behavior and lives. Consequently, people with high self-efficacy are more likely to be persistent because they believe the ability to master something is in their power. This can affect motivation for learning, and students with low self-efficacy may struggle not only with grades but also with completing schoolwork.

Low self-efficacy can also lead to problems such as anxiety or depression. When a person is low in self-efficacy, they feel that they have little control over their own lives, which can contribute to feelings of overwhelm, sadness, or hopelessness.

Influences on Self-Efficacy

Teaching styles that encourage exploration and mastery rather than memorization or uniformity tend to produce more self-efficacy. Similarly, parents who institute consistent rules and provide their children with plenty of affection tend to have children with higher degrees of self-efficacy.

References:

  1. An introduction to self-efficacy. (n.d.). University of Connecticut. Retrieved from http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/siegle/selfefficacy/section1.html
  2. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman.

Last Updated: 08-24-2015

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Self-Efficacy and Sports Performance

What is self efficacy and how to improve yoursSelf-efficacy is defined as the belief in one’s ability to execute certain actions in order to achieve a specific outcome. This theory, proposed by Albert Bandura, plays a significant role for athletes and athletic performance. As coaches, if we can figure out how to nurture our athlete’s self-efficacy, then we can begin to help them unlock their full athletic potential. The question is, how do we build practice plans and teach in a way that builds this self-efficacy? Fortunately, there are several sources of self-efficacy and examples of how to incorporate them into your practices. Below I have listed the sources and a few examples of how to implement them in practice. You may find that you have already been using a few in your practice plans.

Performance Accomplishments – Getting athletes to feel they have mastered a skill to influence their perception of their abilities

  1. For wide receivers on a football team, start each practice with them catching the football over and over. This repetition builds a sense of mastery and muscle memory and enhances self-efficacy at their position.
  2. Baseball players who field numerous ground balls develop a sense of mastery in one aspect of the game of baseball in order to gain self-efficacy in that area.
  3. Hitting a ball off of the tee numerous times in order to practice mechanics leads to a sense of mastery

Vicarious Experience (modeling) – showing an athlete how to perform a task exactly how you want it done. Seeing someone perform a task allows them to believe they can perform the task, especially when they see someone of the same skill level perform.

  1. Before wide receivers ever catch a ball, model the first steps to helping them catch the ball. Show them by extending hands out in front of the body, putting thumbs together for a ball above the waist and pinkies together for a ball below the waist. They then feel confident when they do it exactly how it is modeled knowing that their coaches have a mastery of the skill.
  2. When teaching a player to field a ground ball, mimic the skills and stance necessary for the action. Bend the knees, put the glove to the ground and the other hand on top, spread the feet out and move into the catch.
  3. When shooting a basketball, show the athletes exactly how to hold it, how your hand should follow through after the shot, how far apart your feet should be, and where your eyes and elbow should follow through.

Verbal Persuasion – encouraging and motivating through positive talk

  1. When athletes are performing tasks make sure that others, not participating at the moment, are being positive, encouraging, and hyping each other up.
  2. When fixing a problem, try to point out something the athlete did well first before giving them constructive criticism. This builds them up and then fixing the problem area becomes easier.
  3. At the end of practice, point out the players who worked the hardest and had the best day of practice. This encourages those players while simultaneously encouraging the other players to work for those words of affirmation.

Emotional Arousal – Changing a player’s emotional state through positive talk and showing you care

  1. A player who had a stressful day at school and is feeling defeated before a game could benefit from positive encouragement from a coach. Just telling a kid “hey you are great at shooting the basketball” or “I am happy I get to coach and know you” can change their whole emotional state.
  2. Kids who are angry about a play or a cheap shot in a football game would benefit from coming out of the game, getting some water, taking deep breaths, and talking to the coach.
  3. Telling an athlete a joke or just messing with them a little when they are sad or angry can completely change their mood.

Physiological State – controlling the anxiety and stress levels of athletes to enhance efficacy

  1. For nervousness, employ breathing techniques. Box breathing has been used and proven to influence anxiety and reduce stress. The athlete breathes in for a four count, holds for a four count, breathes out for a four count, and holds for a four count.
  2. Positive self-talk is beneficial for physiological control as well. Telling yourself positive mantras before a performance calms anxiety and reduces stress. Phrases like “you can do this” and “this is what you have been working and practicing for, you are ready” have positive influences on physiological state.
  3. Muscle tensing and relaxing also has a relaxing effect on physiological state. Tense up a muscle group for 5 seconds and then relax that muscle group.

Imaginal Experiences – imagining yourself being successful during a performance

  1. A baseball player will imagine themselves getting a hit off an opposing pitcher before an at-bat to build the belief that they can and will get a hit
  2. A quarterback will visualize throwing to an open receiver during a crucial play either before the game or when they are on the sideline
  3. A basketball player visualizes hitting the game winning shot while the clock runs down. Thinking of every little detail including sensory information and mechanics of shooting the ball

These are just a few examples of ways to enhance self-efficacy in your program. As coaches it is important to remember that our athlete’s deal with a vast array of emotional and psychological factors that influence their athletic performance. By fostering their mental game, we can better prepare them to achieve and unlock their full potential. It is our goal to help them achieve their goals.

What is self efficacy and how to improve yours

The term self-efficacy refers to an individual’s confidence in their ability to complete a task or achieve a goal. The concept was originally developed by Albert Bandura. Today, psychologists contend that our sense of self-efficacy can influence whether we actually succeed at a task.

Key Takeaways: Self-Efficacy

  • Self-efficacy refers to the set of beliefs we hold about our ability to complete a particular task.
  • According to psychologist Albert Bandura, the first proponent of the concept, self-efficacy is the product of past experience, observation, persuasion, and emotion.
  • Self-efficacy is linked to academic achievement and the ability to overcome phobias.

The Importance of Self-Efficacy

According to Bandura, there are two factors that influence whether or not someone engages in a particular behavior: outcome expectancy and self-efficacy.

In other words, our ability to achieve a goal or complete a task depends on whether we think we can do it (self-efficacy), and whether we think it will have good results (outcome expectancy).

Self-efficacy has important effects on the amount of effort individuals apply to a given task. Someone with high levels of self-efficacy for a given task will be resilient and persistent in the face of setbacks, while someone with low levels of self-efficacy for that task may disengage or avoid the situation. For example, a student who has a lower level of self-efficacy for math might avoid signing up for challenging math classes.

Importantly, our level of self-efficacy varies from one domain to the next. For example, you might have high levels of self-efficacy about your ability to navigate your hometown, but have very low levels of self-efficacy about your ability to navigate a foreign city where you do not speak the language. Generally, an individual’s level of self-efficacy for one task cannot be used to predict their self-efficacy for another task.

How We Develop Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy is informed by several main sources of information: personal experience, observation, persuasion, and emotion.

Personal Experience

When predicting their ability to succeed at a new task, individuals often look to their past experiences with similar tasks. This information generally has a strong effect on our feelings of self-efficacy, which is logical: if you’ve already done something many times, you’re likely to believe that you can do it again.

The personal experience factor also explains why increasing one’s self-efficacy can be difficult. When an individual has low levels of self-efficacy for a certain task, they typically avoid the task, which prevents them from accumulating positive experiences that might eventually build up their confidence. When an individual attempts a new task and succeeds, the experience can build up their confidence, thus producing greater levels of self-efficacy associated with similar tasks.

Observation

We also make judgments about our own capabilities by watching others. Imagine that you have a friend who is known for being a coach potato, and then that friend successfully runs a marathon. This observation might lead you to believe that you can become a runner too.

Researchers have found that our self-efficacy for a given activity is more likely to increase when we see someone else succeed at that activity through hard work, rather than natural ability. For example, if you have low self-efficacy for public speaking, watching a timid person develop the skill may help increase your own confidence. Watching a naturally charismatic and outgoing person give a speech is less likely to have the same effect.

Observing others is more likely to affect our own self-efficacy when we feel that we are similar to the person we are observing. However, in general, watching other people doesn’t affect our self-efficacy as much as our personal experience with the task.

Persuasion

Sometimes, other people may try to increase our self-efficacy by offering support and encouragement. However, this type of persuasion does not always have a strong effect on self-efficacy, particularly compared to the effect of personal experience.

Emotion

Bandura suggested that emotions such as fear and anxiety can undermine our feelings of self-efficacy. For example, you can have high levels of self-efficacy for making small talk and socializing, but if you’re really nervous about making a good impression at a particular event, your sense of self-efficacy may decrease. On the other hand, positive emotions can generate greater feelings of self-efficacy.

Self-Efficacy and Locus of Control

According to psychologist Julian Rotter, self-efficacy is inextricable from the concept of locus of control. Locus of control refers to how an individual determines the causes of events. People with an internal locus of control see events as being caused by their own actions. People with an external locus of control see events as being caused by external forces (e.g. other people or chance circumstances).

After succeeding at a task, an individual with an internal locus of control will experience a greater increase in self-efficacy than an individual with an external locus of control. In other words, giving yourself credit for successes (as opposed to claiming that they happened because of factors beyond your control) is more likely to increase your confidence on future tasks.

Applications of Self-Efficacy

Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy has numerous applications, including treating phobias, increasing academic achievement, and developing healthy behaviors.

Treating Phobias

Bandura conducted research related to the role of self-efficacy in treating phobias. In one study, he recruited research participants with a snake phobia into two groups. The first group participated in hands-on activities directly related to their fears, such as holding the snake and allowing the snake to slither on them. The second group observed another person interact with the snake but did not participate in the activities themselves.

Afterwards, the participants completed an assessment to determine whether they were still fearful of snakes. Bandura found that the participants who had directly interacted with the snake showed higher self-efficacy and less avoidance, suggesting that personal experience is more effective than observation when it comes to developing self-efficacy and facing our fears.

Academic Achievement

In a review of the research on self-efficacy and education, Mart van Dinther and his colleagues write that self-efficacy is linked to factors such as the goals students choose for themselves, the strategies they use, and their academic achievement.

Healthy Behaviors

Health psychologists have found that we are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors when we feel confident in our ability to successfully carry out those behaviors. For example, having higher levels of self-efficacy may help us stick to an exercise routine. Self-efficacy is also a factor that helps people adopt a healthier diet and quit smoking.

Self-efficacy is a person’s belief in his or her ability to successfully manage or cope in a particular situation. When we have a low sense of our own self-efficacy, we may feel a lack of self-confidence and control which can lead to distressing feelings of helplessness and powerlessness.

Since Psychologist Albert Bandura published his 1977 research paper, “Self-Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change,” the subject has become one of the most studied topics in psychology. Self-efficacy is an important topic among psychologists and researchers because it can have a profound impact on everything from our psychological states to our behavior and our motivation.

When we want to reach a goal that we have set for ourselves, self-efficacy is essential to help us move forward towards a positive outcome. This is why people with mood disorders might remind themselves that they have gotten through a depressive episode before and that they have the ability to get through it again. This kind of hope and optimism can help us to see ourselves as capable human beings with the skills to work through tough times.

If we don’t have strong self-efficacy, what can we do? How can we get more of it? Thankfully, there are strategies that we can use to change our efficacy beliefs. The originator of the theory, Albert Bandura describes four sources of efficacy beliefs:

  1. Mastery Experiences

The most powerful source of self-efficacy is having a direct experience of mastering a task or an environment. Having success reaching a goal through effort and perseverance will help us to build our self-efficacy and our belief in ourselves. If we are feeling unsure, we can start with mastering a relatively easy task and then increase the difficulty and complexity as we begin to feel more competent.

  1. Vicarious Experiences

The second source of self-efficacy comes from our observation of people similar to ourselves succeeding while using perseverance and effort to overcome obstacles. Seeing that other people learn and grow can strengthen our beliefs that we too can master the activities needed for success. One great way to increase our vicarious experiences is to read biographies of people who we admire in order to greater understand the paths they took to became “masters” in their field.

  1. Verbal Persuasion

The people who have influenced our development such as our parents, teachers, siblings or coaches may have either strengthened or weakened our belief that we have what it takes to succeed. Having people who persuade us that that we can master the skills needed for life makes it more likely that we will put it the effort and sustain it when we have set-backs.

If we weren’t lucky enough to have people encouraging us to keep trying as we grew up, we can make it a priority as adults to surround ourselves with people who are supportive and who let us know that they believe in our abilities.

  1. Emotional & Physiological States

Our self-efficacy is also impacted by the emotional or physiological state in which we find ourselves. Depression, for example, will decrease our confidence. When we are feeling tired, sad or anxious, we may perceive our self-efficacy as weak. When we are well-rested and happy, we may perceive our self-efficacy as strong. Reflecting on our emotional state before we start a new task will help us to understand that we may be underestimating our abilities. Learning to self-regulate our emotional states and practicing self-compassion can also help us to have more realistic appraisals of our abilities.

Psychologist James Maddux has suggested a fifth route to self-efficacy through “imaginal experiences”, the art of visualizing ourselves behaving effectively or successfully in a given situation. If we can visualize ourselves completing a task successfully or handling a difficult interaction competently, we can increase our optimism about our potential for success.

How do you feel about your level of self-efficacy? Although it is not something that most of think about regularly, we can see that having a belief in our ability to cope and even thrive in life can be a welcome boost to our self-concept and quality of life. Building self-efficacy cannot be done in a day, but each day we can take steps to learn new skills, handle disappointments, and deal with whatever life throws at us.

What is self efficacy and how to improve yoursSelf-efficacy is a person’s belief about whether he or she possesses the necessary skills to complete tasks and achieve goals.

What is Self-Efficacy?

Self-efficacy is similar in some ways to self-confidence, but focuses more on an individual’s belief in his or her ability to competently do things rather than his or her beliefs about his or her own worth.

The concept of self-efficacy was developed by child psychologist Albert Bandura, as part of his theory of social-cognitive learning. Social-cognitive learning focuses on learning by observation. Self-efficacy is critical to learning, according to Bandura, because people with a high-degree of self-efficacy have a strong incentive to learn. They tend to view new or challenging tasks as goals over which to gain mastery rather than as overwhelming setbacks at which they might fail.

Role of Self-Efficacy in Learning

People with high self-efficacy tend to have an internal locus of control, which means they believe that they can control what happens to them. People with low self-efficacy and an external locus of control, by contrast, tend to believe that external events and forces control their behavior and lives. Consequently, people with high self-efficacy are more likely to be persistent because they believe the ability to master something is in their power. This can affect motivation for learning, and students with low self-efficacy may struggle not only with grades but also with completing schoolwork.

Low self-efficacy can also lead to problems such as anxiety or depression. When a person is low in self-efficacy, they feel that they have little control over their own lives, which can contribute to feelings of overwhelm, sadness, or hopelessness.

Influences on Self-Efficacy

Teaching styles that encourage exploration and mastery rather than memorization or uniformity tend to produce more self-efficacy. Similarly, parents who institute consistent rules and provide their children with plenty of affection tend to have children with higher degrees of self-efficacy.

References:

  1. An introduction to self-efficacy. (n.d.). University of Connecticut. Retrieved from http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/siegle/selfefficacy/section1.html
  2. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman.

Last Updated: 08-24-2015

Please fill out all required fields to submit your message.

“Ready, get set, go!”

Does this phrase excite you or make you want to crawl under a rock? Some people love competition. Others run from it (which could be a competition of it’s own). If you’re the competitive type, you may have a hard time understanding the apprehensive exerciser and vice-a-versa.

At the core of every human being is the smallest bit of competition. It’s called self-efficacy. It’s the perception of ones abilities and how successful they feel they are at a given behavior or activity. Self-efficacy can be low, medium or high. It’s different than self-esteem, which describes perceptions of self-worth and emotional evaluation.

Low self-efficacy could be present in someone who is lifting weights, using an elliptical or in a seasoned athlete competing at altitude for the first time. It might be hard to imagine that using an elliptical could be intimidating to someone, but it could be!

Self-efficacy changes from one behavior/activity to the next for each individual. This requires us (fit pros) to hone in on the subtle signs and signals.

What’s this got to do with you? Improving self-efficacy creates a sense of accomplishment and makes an individual more likely to repeat a behavior. As a personal trainer, you can help facilitate this growth.

Believe it or not some people don’t exercise simply because they don’t feel they could be successful at it.

Walking into a fitness class for the first time or meeting with a personal trainer who is really fit and healthy can be intimidating. Keep this in mind as you get to know your new clients or class participants. Read their body language, they probably won’t tell you that they’re nervous and some are really good at hiding it.

Questions to ask:What is self efficacy and how to improve yours

  • Have you done this exercise before?
  • Do you have any questions or hesitations about it?
  • Was this exercise easy or difficult for you?

Competitive athletes have self-efficacy also. Theirs is usually pretty high. Yet, they still experience low self-efficacy when it comes to running on a new course, biking at altitude or facing a successful opponent. Depending on personality style, they too might hide their feelings.

Create challenges small or large that fit into the clients specific goals. The art of personal training is figuring out the sweet spot. What will challenge the client and not too easy for them? With beginners there usually is no challenge too small. If you have a hunch that someone is weary about trying new exercises, keep it simple.

On the other hand, if you recognize the seasoned athlete in someone and high self-efficacy – be ready to push the limits. This doesn’t always mean a harder exercise, it sometimes means smarter. Using biomechanical assessments to identify specific weaknesses in their strength can lead you to the missing link in their training regimen. This requires a keen knowledge of anatomy and kinesiology. Check out this NFPT CEC course.

Create a continuum of exercises you do with new clients and pay attention to their reaction. Ask them how challenging each one is on a scale of 1-5. For example, you could start with single leg balance and then add some arm or leg movements to it. Take note of how the person does. If they struggle, take a break and make note so that you don’t make it harder than that until they’re ready.

Another example is starting with a partial squat and advancing to a full squat or holding a plank on the knees before the toes. Always be ready to make an exercise easier or harder. It’s the mark of a skilled fitness professional.

When you recognize the person has mastered an exercise, feels confident and reports that it’s easy, you can progress to harder exercises. It’s like those placement exams. You answer a question and if you get it right, they give you a harder one. If you get it wrong, you get an easier one.

Personal training is indeed quite personal and the more we can tune into the clients behavioral needs, the better we can guide them forward and keep them committed to a healthy lifestyle.

What is self efficacy and how to improve yoursSelf-responsibility both reflects and generates self-esteem. People with high self-esteem feel that they are in charge of their lives. They have a sense of agency and self-efficacy. They take responsibility for their feelings, actions, and lives. It also means that you take responsibility for the consequences of your choices and behaviors, both positive and negative outcomes, rather than blame yourself or others. It requires a desire to review and learn from your mistakes in order to seek solutions and improvement.

Unlike girls, in adolescence boys are naturally competitive and aggressive, encouraging their autonomy and sense of agency. Girls’ self-esteem begins to suffer from the age of nine, and by adolescence, they fall behind. Feelings of powerlessness and the need for external validation, especially regarding appearance, increase, while self-esteem declines. Whereas, boys generally tend to challenge authority more than girls, if girls are discouraged from taking risks or pursuing goals, they may develop an attitude of “I can’t,” instead of “I can.” Overtime, such young women may develop a passive attitude toward life. This lack of agency and self-esteem can eventually lead to depression.

The cornerstone of building self-confidence requires accepting responsibility for ones unhappiness and problems. Only then, can they be changed. A survey showed that lottery winners eventually returned to their original state of well-being. Winning the lottery or finding Mr. Right provides only temporary euphoria. Ultimately, it’s self-esteem and our thoughts and actions that determine our sense of well-being.

The rub is that when self-esteem is low, it’s painful to take responsibility. People rather make excuses and blame others, since they already feel so bad. This is really annoying to those around them and creates problems in relationships.

Sandy* always procrastinated and turned in her work late with a myriad of excuses, annoying her boss. When she was reprimanded, she resented her boss, blaming him, while her self-loathing grew. By encouraging her to take responsibility for her behavior and exploring her fears and self-criticism that fed her procrastination, she was able to change her habits. She discovered self-empowerment and began to feel good about herself, and she won her boss’s appreciation, as well.

Self-responsibility neither implies moral blame nor guilt, but should foster a curious inquiry into how and why your life is the way it is. Look for solutions. Ask what assumptions, beliefs, or attitudes motivated your choices and behavior, and what actions can be taken in the future.

Avoiding self-responsibility puts you in the role of a helpless victim, waiting for others to change, so that you’ll feel better. That never works in the long run, because we can’t change others, and even their accommodation to our needs only provides a temporary lift. The other extreme – feeling you’re responsible for everything that befalls you can also injure your self-esteem. Blaming yourself for every accident, illness, and mishap presumes an unrealistic level of control. Nor are you responsible for someone else’s abusive behavior, but you are responsible for your response to it. Instead of asking why did he or she did that, ask “What beliefs do I have that allow me to permit it?” “What boundaries do I set?” “How can I better protect myself?” “What may happen if I don’t change my response?”

Ask yourself what would be different if you took responsibility for your happiness, your financial security, for your safety, and your physical health? What are the benefits of not taking responsibility for your health, finances, goals, emotions, and relationships? Probably you feel better about yourself in areas where you are more self-responsible. You feel effective, raising your self-esteem. It will be lower in the areas where you are less self-responsible.

Mary* complained about the string of men in her life who took advantage of her sexually and financially. Rather than change her behavior and choices, she turned to family and friends who were equally selfish, perpetuating the pattern. When she finally realized that no one was going to rescue her, she began to change for the better. She took responsibility for herself, and found her strength. Having been severely abused as a child, she had been convinced that no one could love her. Grieving her past and experiencing her anger at her perpetrators helped her to leave an abusive relationship and stop re-creating her family dynamics.

People feel more effective when they take action, and action-oriented people tend to have higher self-esteem. They take action despite how they feel. They don’t wait passively for things to change or expect others to change their lives. Although self-awareness of thoughts and feelings is important, if it preempts action, it can undermine self-efficacy, and ultimately self-esteem. Keep in mind that action requires attention directed toward solving a problem, and includes journaling, expressing feelings, making a list, obtaining information, writing a letter, thinking through a problem, making a statement or decision, or even changing your attitude. You may need support for the courage to change your behavior beyond writing and thinking. Consider getting a coach, therapist, or joining a 12-Step Program. You also may need practice. With each new risk taken, you build confidence and self-efficacy.

Think about an area in your life where your self-esteem is low. How could you take more self-responsibility? What specific, small step would generate a greater sense of self-efficacy and make you feel better about yourself?

Read steps you can take to Raise your Self-Esteem.
*Names are fictitious, composite personalities

What is self efficacy and how to improve yours

Efficacy is all about ability and effectiveness. It means the ability to create or produce a desired outcome. Self-efficacy, then, refers to your own ability or effectiveness in a given situation. But like many other words that start with the ‘self’ prefix (self-esteem, self-consciousness, self-awareness, etc.) self-efficacy is more about your belief of your ability rather than a true limit.

That’s an important distinction.

What you believe about your own efficacy has a significant impact on your psychology. It influences how your brain engages when stress or obstacles come up. Believing you can overcome a given challenge actually initiates the coping behaviors needed for you to do so.

Put simply, Henry Ford was spot on. “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.”

Self-efficacy helps you follow through on a given task

Self-efficacy has another psychological benefit. People with high self-efficacy also put in the amount of work necessary to achieve the given goal. Therefore, they’re more likely to accomplish it. This benefit is may be more intuitive that it seems. Here are some everyday examples you likely can relate to:

  • Your friend says they “can’t cook,” but then they get a meal service like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh. Suddenly, with the ingredients and instructions in front of them, their beliefs about their ability changes. They believe they can cook the meal, so they follow the instructions carefully. The result? A delicious, home cooked meal!
  • A project you’ve been wanting to start feels daunting and impossible, like starting a blog. But then you find some resources or talk to a friend who helps you make a plan. With the steps laid out in front of you, you find motivation to build and launch your blog!
  • Your child is frustrated over a math problem and feels defeated. “I’ll never understand division!” they complain. But then you show them that they’ve already solved three similar problems successfully. Your child feels encouraged, and starts to believe in their ability again. They decide to try again and correctly solve the division problem! (In an ideal situation. Your child might also continue to throw a fit.)

In a nutshell, self-efficacy keeps you from being a quitter.

Listen to Feminine Foresight #13 on Anchor, Apple Podcasts or Google Play!

How does self-efficacy connect to leadership?

Quitting doesn’t feel good. When we quit we’re usually left with regret, feeling insecure and like we let ourselves down. Those are things I don’t want you to feel, ever. But especially not when it comes to your leadership experiences. That’s why I decided to focus this week’s Feminine Foresight topic on leadership self-efficacy.

So what is leadership self-efficacy?

I bet you have it figured out, but it’s your belief that you can successfully lead. Possessing high leadership self-efficacy impacts both your own leadership performance, and the performance of the group that you’re leading. That makes it a big deal.

As a leader, your thoughts, motivation, perseverance, well-being, vulnerabilities and choices are all affected by your self-efficacy. Essentially, every part of the leadership experience is affected.

People with high leadership self-efficacy cope better when challenges arise and when they encounter pushback. They stay calm and exercise self-control even when in very stressful situations. In addition, they also are more willing to put in the effort needed to lead well and take care of their group’s needs.

I’m sure you’d agree with me that that’s the type of leader you’d like to be and to follow yourself.

How do you know if you have leadership self-efficacy?

Laura Paglis and Stephen Green have studied leadership self-efficacy in depth. They created a model that offers a breakdown for conceptualizing leadership self-efficacy in a practical way. The model separates components of general leaderships tasks into the three buckets of: direction setting, gaining followers’ commitment and overcoming obstacles.

Leadership Self-Efficacy for Direction Setting

Direction setting speaks to a leader’s ability to understand their leadership setting and plan accordingly. Self-efficacy for direction setting can be measured by how confident you are in your ability to problem solve or to gather and understand knowledge related to your field.

Your self-beliefs in this area can be influenced by previous successes or failures in developing plans and problem solving, as well as your general beliefs about your intelligence.

Leadership Self-Efficacy for Overcoming Obstacles

Overcoming obstacles is a non-stop job for leaders. Whether it’s overcoming personal obstacles of self-motivation and limitations, or obstacles that face the group at large. Specific skills that are related to the task of overcoming obstacles are: ability to pivot, serving others, building momentum, overseeing work and taking action when needed. Self control and drive are also enormously important skills.

If you are a more action-oriented person that has self-motivation and flexibility, you likely have high self-efficacy for overcoming obstacles.

Leadership Self-Efficacy for Gaining Commitment

Gaining commitment is foundational for leadership. After all, if no one is committed to your cause, who are you leading? The ability to gain commitment relies heavily on interpersonal skills. For example, how well are you able to relate to others? Can you effectively challenge and guide other people? Are you a clear communicator? Do people feel like the can trust you, and believe that you have their best interest in mind?

All of these skills can be practiced in every interaction you have with another human. If you have high self-efficacy for gaining commitment, you’d probably describe yourself as a natural ‘people person’ and likely have strong relationships with others.

It’s common to have higher self-efficacy in one or two of these buckets. If that’s the case for you, I encourage you to dig into the bucket(s) of leadership tasks you feel less confident in. Where do those doubts and insecurities stem from? Past experiences? Lack of good examples?

Self-awareness of your insecurities is a great starting point for working through them. In the coming weeks, I’ll share more tools to help you improve your leadership self efficacy. For now, take some time to reflect on where you’re at regarding direction setting, overcoming obstacles and gaining commitment.