Self-Efficacy: Key to Your Success

June 23, 2021 by  

Self-efficacy relates to a person’s ability to have optimistic beliefs, but it is more than just optimism, perceived self-efficacy explicitly refers to the belief in our ability to deal with challenging encounters. Thus it is one’s belief that they have the capacity to organize and execute the necessary course of action in order to manage situations as they occur.
Self-perceptions of self-efficacy affect us in many ways: in our thought patterns, our actions and our physical and emotional states of arousal. People with low self-efficacy experience anxiety, hopelessness, and anger. They find it harder to bounce back after adversity. Those with high self-efficacy experience fulfillment and feelings of calmness that accompany decisiveness and certainty. They are resilient when facing stressful situations, are self-starters, and self-motivating.

Here is how it affects your rate of success:
Self-efficacy provides the foundation for human motivation, well being and personal accomplishments. The more we believe we can do, the more we invest, and thus the greater likelihood we will accomplish what we set out to do.
Empirical research has shown that a belief in one’s ability to cope is a stronger predictor of success than objectively possessing the knowledge and operations skills necessary to get the task done. This is because how we perceive our abilities impacts how we choose to utilize those tools in such a significant way, that it’s more valuable to the outcome than the quality and quantity of the tools themselves.

In our daily lives, we make decisions about not only what course of action to pursue but how long to continue the behaviours we have undertaken. Self-efficacy affects how much effort and energy we invest in the decisions we make.
Therefore a positive outcome is not necessarily a matter of what is objectively true regarding the knowledge or the skills possessed at the time of the dilemma, but rather a matter of one’s attitude since self-perception is more likely to influence behaviour.
That is why talented people can be plagued with self-doubt while someone who may be less talented will put themselves out there and get the task done. Along the way, the less talented person may experience some setbacks but they generally just ignore or discount them and maintain their perseverance toward their goal.

How to build self-efficacy:
As humans, we have self-regulatory mechanisms that provide us with the potential for self-directed changes in our behaviour.
The manner and degree to which people self-regulate their actions are based on the ACCURACY and CONSISTENCY of self-observation. The ability to appropriately self-monitor and make judgments regarding one’s own choices needs to be developed and sustained.

Here is how to start:
1. Be mindful of your own emotions– Ask yourself what primary emotions you are feeling and how likely they are to influence your behaviour.
2. An Assumption Detective– Get in touch with your underlying attitudes and the assumptions of individual decisions or hesitations and investigate how truthful they are. Use simple tasks to help develop the necessary skill. For example, if you decide to take a cab versus the train, the assumption may be that you will arrive sooner. But is that necessarily true? Ask yourself what could have happened if you had done the opposite? Then apply that approach to the things you are avoiding: if you don’t ask your boss for a raise is it because the assumption is that he will definitely say “No”. If you are not certain, then investigate before you let assumptions rule your actions. Remember, if you do not ask, you do not get, so better to ask!
3. Challenge your attributions: Attributions are the judgments we make about our own or the behaviours of others. Look for specific, situational causes to events rather than global or personal points of view to explain things. This will give you a better blueprint for how to change your behaviour.
4. Focus on Intent Vs Outcome: Set Tangible & Measurable Behaviour Goals vs Subjective/ Outcome goals: Self-motivators set personal behaviour goals that encourage them to work in self- directed ways. This involves measuring success by an objective means that focuses on intent versus outcome. For example, setting a goal of eating 1500 calories a day versus losing 5lbs or “trying to stay on your diet”. This is especially important since the most influential source of one’s self-efficacy is the interpreted results of one’s previous performance.
5. Watch & Mimic an Expert Model: Through vicarious learning opportunities we can feel confident that we are making the right decision simply because we have witnessed others being successful using similar strategies.
6. Avoid too much negative feedback & Surround yourself with Positivity: Social persuasion through feedback from others, including verbal judgments, constructive criticism, and praise, has a significant impact on how we rate our efforts. For the most part, negative feedback can have a stronger impact than positive ones, therefore try to focus your attention on strategies that utilize your strengths, cope with your weaknesses, and avoid conversations or mental thoughts that involve berating yourself.
7. Meditate & Breath: Learn to Calm Body Sensations and Emotional States– People have a tendency to gauge the degree of confidence by their emotional state when they contemplate a particular action. Thus, when we are anxious and hopeless we look to escape, convincing ourselves we should throw in the towel sooner because we think ” Why bother it is not going to work, so what is the point? Such a defeatist attitude will not help you to succeed, better to take a more positive approach and figure that you can do it!

The famous Roman poet Virgil wrote:
“We are who we think we are”. And one thing is certain, if we give up we definitely won’t win!
So, if you adopt a positive attitude, decide, no matter what you are not going to give up until you accomplish your goals, you will certainly be more successful in all aspects of your life.

Improve Your Leadership Skills by Focussing on Critical Thinking

June 4, 2021 by  

Highly successful leaders are exceptional critical thinkers.

Here are five ways to improve your approach to strategic problem-solving and decision-making.

As a strategic business coach, one of my core responsibilities is leveling up leadership skills on the senior team. I like to say, if you want to grow and scale a business, you have to grow and scale its leadership. One of the key skills to focus on is critical thinking.
As a business grows in size, so does the complexity and scope of its problems and challenges. Without good critical thinking skills, leaders will make poor decisions and fail to take advantage of strategic opportunities. Very often, what holds the business back from reaching its true potential is a lack of leadership’s foresight and effective problem-solving skills.

Here are five key things that to focus on when working with leaders to improve their ability to identify, analyze, solve, and implement effective problem-solving strategies.
1. Gather more and better data
The first thing to emphasize is that most teams try to make decisions with limited and poor-quality data. Good critical thinkers start by collecting as much high-quality data as possible. They don’t take things at face value. They question summaries and dig to make sure that they really understand what’s happening on the ground and maximize the raw information they have to work with.
This includes both structured and unstructured data as well as quantitative and qualitative information. It is also important to look at history and trends and to compare the data you’re looking at with other benchmarks and norms. Good thinkers don’t rely upon summaries and averages, they go back to the source and get the raw information.

2. Learn how to separate fact from inference
Once you have collected information, it is key to understand the difference between facts and inferences. Too often leaders will make assumptions about what is really true and treat them as facts when what they are really dealing with is an inference. This creates a shaky foundation for any future thinking and decision-making.
A fact is objectively observable by other people. An inference is something that includes an assumption or an opinion that may or may not be true. If you literally drive from New York to L.A and it takes 58 hours, that is a fact. If you use a map to calculate the distance and estimate an average speed to get to 58 hours, that is an inference. Don’t confuse the two.

3. Break things down to first principles
Encourage leaders and teams to think in first principles. These are the fundamental building blocks in thinking and decision-making. They are the core elements that are true regardless of situation and context.
They generally are found by asking clarifying questions, considering alternatives, and testing assumptions. Once you have a good set of first principles, you then have the elements that you need to start creating new options and new solutions that you can be confident in.
For example, the first principle in tennis is that a ball hit with topspin will fall faster than one hit with backspin. A good tennis player knows how to use this in different scenarios to create strategic effects. By combining this with other principles, an expert player can make plays that leverage their strengths and exploit their opponent’s weaknesses.

4. Develop effective models
Another tool that can be very effective for teams and leaders is thinking in terms of models or analogies. While these are an abstraction and reduction of reality, and therefore wrong at some level, they can be useful for simplifying a situation and quickly finding alternatives and strategies.
For example, economies of scale are a model for how price changes with volume. While a specific situation may not follow the model perfectly, it can help a business figure out how to gain efficiencies by increasing the volume while holding costs the same.
The trick with models is to know where and why they work and how they can fall short. Models can help you quickly generate insights and strategies, but you need to be aware of their limits and not get lulled into a false sense of security about reality.

5. Continuously challenge your assumptions
Maybe the most important thing to focus on with leaders and teams is to create ways of testing and validating their assumptions quickly. If left unchecked, an assumption can lead to poor thinking and bad decision-making. This can be avoided by quickly going out into the real world and seeing if what you are assuming holds up in the field.

By developing your critical thinking skills, you will improve your decision-making and ultimately get better outcomes and long-term results. While some of these steps may take some time and energy, they are good investments and will yield strong returns.