Believing in yourself matters at every stage of your life; no matter it is your academic career or your professional career or your everyday personal affairs, your self-belief determines how you think, feel or behave – it’s an important determinant of your success or failure in life.
Albert Bandura terms it self-efficacy and defines it as “one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task”. This concept has a major role in the development of Bandura’s Social Learning Theory.
Bandura proposed four sources of self-efficacy. If you are looking forward to improve your self-efficacy, then employ them for this purpose:
Mastery experience, or an accomplishment in a past performance, is a really very important source of self-efficacy – it is the most powerful source of high self-efficacy for anyone , as it is driven by himself or herself. Whenever we successfully accomplish a task, we move one step forward towards the journey of self-belief and our self-efficacy strengthens. And when we fail to accomplish a task, our self-efficacy weakens. In fact, it’s all about mental processing that occurs when we confront success or failure. “People process, weigh and integrate diverse sources of information concerning their capabilities. They then regulate their choice behavior and effort expenditure on the basis of the perceived self-efficacy” (Bandura, Adams & Beyer, 1977).
‘Success breeds success’, past success greatly influences the extent of effort and commitment towards a future task. That does not mean that the future tasks are somehow repetitive or easy; of course, they would be challenging but with high self-efficacy, strong motivation and right goals, they can be accomplished successfully.
So, how can you draw self-efficacy from this source? It’s possible in many ways; first of all, start with small achievements and perform under low competition, when you will be successful in this first step, it will give you courage to undertake big achievements and perform under high competition. Success in small achievements will build efficacy for big achievements in the future. And don’t forget to consistently remind yourself about your past successes.
And if you are working in the capacity of a mentor, coach or trainer then how can you help your students or trainees to draw self-efficacy from past performance? First of all, create an environment having low competition and set achievable and easy goals for them, once they successfully perform in low competition then gradually move them towards relatively challenging tasks and then encourage them consistently by reminding them about their past achievements, this will surely improve their self-efficacy.
The next source of self-efficacy as mentioned by Bandura is ‘modeling or vicarious experience’. This is especially helpful for you in those circumstances that you have never confronted before or something you are not experienced at. It’s about getting inspiration from others’ achievements i.e. watching others accomplish great things and deeming it as a source of motivation – improving your own self-efficacy by achievements of others. So, how can you use this source to draw self-efficacy for your betterment? Observe your subordinates experienced at that task or field; senior members can also contribute greatly towards this source of self-efficacy. When they can do this, then why can’t I? This is something that will flourish in your mind after observing others and that will add to your motivation and enhance your self-belief. So, surround yourself with experienced people so that whenever you face some challenging circumstances, you may benefit from their experiences.
And acting as a coach, mentor or trainer, this is really a great source for enhancing self-efficacy in your trainees or students.
Modeling, specifically self-modeling, can be extremely helpful with increasing their self-efficacy when it comes to guiding them about handling challenging tasks. Watching others perform arduous things can enhance their self-efficacy about performing the same task. This source of self-efficacy is, however, probably best used in more technical events, such as jumping and throwing. As a coach you can guide players by animations and other videos depicting the concerned action. However, it is best to keep modeling within the same level of competition, as past studies have shown that the modeling source is most effective when used with athletes with similarities to the athlete in question (Weiss, McCullagh, Smith & Berlant, 1998).
This source of self-efficacy, social persuasion, is the verbal encouragement from another. In this case, teachers and mentors may play a major role. Although it can also come from your subordinate, your parents, and teachers, the strength of social persuasion as an effective booster of self-efficacy depends on “the prestige, credibility, expertise and trustworthiness of the persuader” (Gernigon et al., 2003). In sports, that persuader is usually the coach.
According to Bandura, this source must be used carefully, as negative remarks are more powerful than those of positive ones.Therefore, as a mentor you must consistently provide positive feedback as one negative comment could have an adverse effect on the self-efficacy of your trainees.
Be specific, realistic, sincere as well as believable when you persuade others. Persuaders must ensure that people whom they are persuading believe in their skills and abilities, otherwise the efforts of the persuader may prove to be invaluable. And persuaders must also ensure that the potential success that they are envisioning in others’ minds is achievable. Being unrealistic may lead towards failure and that will deteriorate self-efficacy because of pessimistic past experience.
This source of self-efficacy plays a great role in sports as verbal persuasion is the key to successful coaching. The easiest way to do this is to remind the athlete of the past performance and performance of others i.e. modeling. Use the evidence. Remind them of what they have done because previous mastery experience is the most powerful source of self-efficacy, and reinforcing this through verbal persuasion will only make them more strong mentally.
And if you want to work on your self-efficacy through social persuasion then keep company of credible and positive individuals, remain away from others’ negative energies. Social media also plays a great role in this regard but be careful while getting inspiration and persuasion from social media life coaches because there are people who tend to misguide others. Make sure to check their credibility before getting persuasion from them.
The last source from which you may draw self-efficacy is physiological or psychological interpretation. This plays a role when individuals pay attention or perceive their physiological and mental reactions while confronting a difficult situation. Do they feel nervousness, aches and pains, or exhaustion while accomplishing challenging tasks and how do these reactions affect performance. These factors have an effect on an individual’s perceived self-efficacy depending on their emotional state. An individual having high self-efficacy will perceive these signs as a consequence of the hard work that challenging circumstances require while a person having low self-efficacy will judge them as he or she will not be able to go through these challenging circumstances and achieve the goals.
Think Differently and consistently work on these four sources of self-efficacy to draw more and more self-belief for yourself daily.
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