WorkMinded Podcast: You Got This - Self-Efficacy


WorkMinded Podcast: You Got This - Self-Efficacy

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Hey everyone, and welcome to WorkMinded. Thank you for joining us for this session on Self-efficacy!

Go ahead and take some time to get settled. Find a place where you can feel safe, comfortable, and distraction-free for the next 10 minutes. While you create a little space between you and what’s happening in your day, we’ll talk a bit about the idea of Self-Efficacy, and how it can equip you to achieve greater success with your goals.

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Officially, Self-efficacy refers to an individual's belief “in his or her capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments.” 1 In other words, Self-efficacy is an individual’s belief in their ability to reach a goal. In a nutshell, it’s the degree of your own belief in your own ability to get something accomplished. Think of a time when you were assigned a work project that that fell within your skill set. How easy was it for you to make contributions in your area of expertise? Now think of a time when you were assigned a project that was outside of your comfort zone. Did you find yourself feeling more reluctant or anxious when it came to pitching in? This is one manifestation of Self-efficacy, or how confident you feel in your competence to achieve the goal at hand.

We come to the table with certain expectations that we’ve developed over time about our own Self-efficacy. In one approach, these expectations are derived from four main sources of information: performance accomplishments, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and physiological states.2 Individual differences in these sources are what result in different levels of our own general expectations around Self-efficacy. It’s interesting to reflect on our backgrounds here. How do your own previous experiences in relation to accomplishments, observations, feedback, and contextual factors, make you feel in general about your ability to reach a goal?

In another approach, these general expectations and individual differences around Self-efficacy relate to whether you attribute success in life to skill or to chance.3 You might find echoes here of the concept of Locus of Control, which explores whether you tend to view life events as because of your influence, or beyond it. While this viewpoint can correlate with levels of Self-efficacy, ultimately, Self-efficacy is more task-oriented, focusing more on one’s ability in to achieve a specific and defined goal or behavior.4

A third approach asserts that your general expectations of your behavior when it comes to Self-efficacy are determined by your personal mastery over an area.5 The principles of personal mastery are what enable a person to learn, and to view the world objectively.6 One of the key influencers of the concept explains that when personal mastery is embraced, those who embrace it continually expand their ability to create the results they seek in life.7 According to another, “Personal mastery is not something you possess. It is a process…[and] a lifelong discipline.” 8 In my mind, this sounds a lot like mindfulness!

As with many concepts in organizational science, your sense of Self-efficacy can be high in some contexts and low in others. For example, a person can have a high measure of Self-efficacy for a hobby they enjoy, where they have put in effort over time to achieve mastery over that hobby. But that same person might have a low measure of Self-efficacy for speaking a new language, where they have not yet achieved mastery over the words and grammar. In these types of situations, making a point to put forth higher efforts in order to achieve mastery can enhance your overall confidence in your ability to accomplish goals. And you have a much better chance of achieving, what you believe you truly can achieve.

This includes achieving goals in the face of complex and, let’s say, dynamic life circumstances. In a sense, Self-efficacy examines how people adapt and adjust to life’s infinite challenges.9 Your expectations of your own personal efficacy determine whether or not you will try to adapt to the obstacles, how much effort you’ll exert to adapt to them, and how long your effort in overcoming them will be sustained.10 Adding Self-efficacy to your toolkit can increase your confidence in your abilities across a wide range of situations. In this way, you’ll be better equipped to achieve your goals, even when life throws unfamiliar situations your way. We’ll take a step in that direction with today’s mindfulness session.

You can find show notes for this episode on our website at www.workminded.net, and of course we would always love to hear your feedback, so be sure to connect with us. And now let’s get started with today’s mindfulness session!



1, 2 Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84(2), 191-215. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.84.2.191
3 Sherer, M., Maddux, J.E.,  Mercandante, B., Prentice-Dunn, S., Jacobs, B., & Rogers, R. W. (1982). The Self-Efficacy Scale: Construction and Validation. Psychological Reports, 51(2), 663-671. https://doi.org/10.2466/pr0.1982.51.2.663
4 Maddux J.E. (1995) Self-Efficacy Theory. In: Maddux J.E. (eds) Self-Efficacy, Adaptation, and Adjustment. The Plenum Series in Social/Clinical Psychology. Springer, Boston, MA
5 Sherer, M., Maddux, J.E.,  Mercandante, B., Prentice-Dunn, S., Jacobs, B., & Rogers, R. W. (1982). The Self-Efficacy Scale: Construction and Validation. Psychological Reports, 51(2), 663-671. https://doi.org/10.2466/pr0.1982.51.2.663

6 Personal Mastery and Peter Senge: Definition & Examples. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://study.com/academy/lesson/personal-mastery-and-peter-senge-definition-examples-quiz.html

7,8, 9 Kang, P. (2018). Personal Mastery from The Fifth Discipline. Retrieved from https://www.peterkang.com/personal-mastery-from-the-fifth-discipline/

10 Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84(2), 191-215. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.84.2.191

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