Why does climbing mountains feature so frequently in metaphors about effort and achievement? Perhaps it’s because it evokes emotions and sensations within us (panting, legs aching, carrying a heavy daysack, helping each other along the way) along with the expectation of it all being worth it in the end as you adapt to overcome the challenge of an immovable natural obstacle. Just think of the view from up there! Reaching the final email in your inbox doesn’t have quite the same effect!
Self-efficacy is the belief you have in your ability to overcome challenges and to achieve what you set out to achieve. High self-efficacy gives you that little bit of reassurance you need as you set about the challenge. Low self-efficacy erodes the little bit of confidence you had left. So what can you do to bolster it?
There are 4 components to building high self-efficacy:
• Experience: there’s no escaping this one – if you want to be better at taking on a challenge, there’s no substitute for actually having a go at it. Don’t expect to be successful the first time, and don’t expect to be an abject failure either. Take the results and calmly reflect on what you can do differently next time.
• Modelling: just watching someone else take on the same challenge or perform an unfamiliar task helps you to learn. Who do you know who has been there, seen it, done it, got the T-shirt and become a YouTuber on the subject? They are the ones whose behaviour you can model, even if only in small part.
• Persuasion: it really helps to have someone who’ll give you the encouragement you need to give it a go. Avoid at all costs those whose demeanour says “I wouldn’t do that if I were you!” Discouragement is more powerful than encouragement. Turn away, avert your gaze, put cheese in your ears – do anything to maintain your focus on what you can and will do.
• Emotions: it is natural to be nervous and apprehensive or excited when trying something new. Your emotional-thinking brain is trying to protect you from the negative consequences of it all being a total failure and waste of time! Don’t confuse emotions and sensations for evidence that failure is imminent. Being nervous does not mean you will fail, neither does being calm mean you will succeed. It’s just nerves.
Photo by Mathias Jensen on Unsplash