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Increase Your Self-Efficacy to Achieve More!

People with a strong sense of self-efficacy generally perform at much higher levels partly because they see setbacks and obstacles as challenges to be overcome.

Self-efficacy is the belief you hold about what you can and cannot make happen in your life. It does not refer to the actual skills you have, but what you believe you can accomplish with those skills.

It is about believing you have the ability to pull together your social, physical, thinking and behavioral skills to accomplish bigger, bolder goals than you initially thought possible.

People with a strong sense of self-efficacy generally perform at much higher levels. Partly because they see setbacks and obstacles as challenges to be overcome.

During the 1996 Barcelona Games, Australian swimmer Kieren Perkins (who was expected to take many golds and break several world records) was not swimming poorly in the heats. Australia and much of the world had all but written Kieren off.

The day before the final, both he and Daniel Kozlowski (another Australian swimmer who had always played second fiddle to Kieren) were interviewed. Daniel said something like: 'Even though Kieren isn't swimming well, if I can just keep up with him I will finish in the top few.'

Kieren said, "Look, I haven't been feeling the best. But I'm on the mend and tomorrow I will come out and win that race". And he did - he won Gold from Lane 8!


Daniel had told himself he was still going to come in behind Kieren. His belief about his performance held true.

The four factors that impact self-efficacy are:

  • 1
    Successful Experience - Success builds a strong belief that you can do it. Repeatedly handling difficult situations will create a sense of "I can do it".
  • 2
    Modeling - You get a boost from watching others who are like you succeed. Your thinking is, "If s/he can do it, then so can I".
  • 3
    Feedback from Others - Positive encouragement from people who you believe 'have the touch' can instill in you the sense that you are capable
  • 4
    Physiological - Watching how 'uptight' you are feeling gives feedback on whether you think you are capable or not. For example, clammy hands and butterflies in the tummy may cause you to think "I can't do this."

How You Deal With Failure


A person with high self-efficacy tends to set big goals and remain motivated despite the threat of failure. 


A person with low self-efficacy will set much smaller goals, At the first sign of setback will give up on the goal or the dream. Here is a simple five step process on how to bounce back quickly after failure.



Self-Efficacy and Goal Setting


If you find yourself setting a big goal and becoming intimidated by it - that's okay. We all feel scared at times. What is not okay, is to stay intimidated. Unfortunately, often when we feel threatened by a goal or a dream, we tend to say the goal is a dumb goal. It was a dumb idea. And we talk ourselves out of going after it.


We make the goal or the dream smaller to fit our level of efficacy.


You can build your efficacy by consciously looking for opportunities to apply each of the four steps listed above.

As you change the way, you think you change the way you act.


As you change the way you act, you change the results you achieve!

Group Efficacy

Not only do individuals have high and low efficacy, but so too do groups.

If you have a group of people with low efficacy, (they believe they are not capable of causing things to happen) then watch out. They will talk down/ridicule any change or new vision/goal because they don't believe they can bring it off.


They begin to use negative creativity (how to get the goal to go away) vs. positive creativity (how are we going to make this happen and then go one better).

As a leader one of your critical tasks is to ensure your team has a high collective efficacy. So that as new goals, problems, opportunities come your way, you can rally the team around and get the team to gang up on them.


The Thought-Patterns for High-Performance program has helped most of the Fortune 100 companies to improve their teams grow their efficacy. Find more about this life-changing and organization-changing program.

Help your team to know that they are more than capable of achieving whatever it is you need to achieve. You do this by building opportunities for each of the four factors above to occur in your daily interactions. Here is an example of how I worked with a team member, using the four steps listed, to help him improve his self-efficacy.

Teams and Self-Efficacy

A Growth Opportunity:

  • 1
    Look at the goals you have set during the past 12 months. Which if any, of those, did you 'back-up' because you didn't believe you could achieve them
  • 2
    Identify two or three areas that if you changed your belief system about yourself, (or your team changed its belief system), then you could reach out and achieve bigger goals
  • 3
    Search within and ask yourself: What is it that I truly want for my life, my family, my community, my workplace (now this one you should spend a load of time on!). If you haven't already, now is the time to start developing your personal mission development.

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