039 - What Is Self Efficacy?

Enduring self efficacy is a significant personality trait of successful people. Here’s how creatives can develop it.

Enduring self efficacy is a significant personality trait of successful people. Here’s how creatives can develop it.

Welcome to the Editor’s Journal; A daily thought on writing, the creative process, art, work, the world and how it all goes together. Every morning I rise early, I sit here in the quiet of my kitchen and I write whatever’s prominent. I have a bunch of article ideas saved, so I’ll either pull from them or write something new. I also write at larrygmaguire.com. I hope you enjoy the read.

Self efficacy may be just another one of those abstract terms to you, but as artists, it matters that we understand it. — Here’s why.

In 2000 I started in business for myself in the trades.

It was just me, my few tools and a 1990 maroon Ford Fiesta van out in the world doing my own thing.

It was totally liberating to get away from other people’s rules and have the freedom to steer my own ship.

I had about two week’s work ahead of me when I started. It wasn’t the greatest or most lucrative work in the world but it didn’t matter.

I loved it and I did it to the best of my ability.

Money was tight at the time, I had a mortgage to cover but that didn’t matter either.

Although in many respects it could be said I earned no right to assume it, I knew for some reason that it would work out.

Despite warnings of impending doom from those who loved me, I pursued my passion for self expression and realisation.

Turns out that self efficacy had a lot to do with it.

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What Is Self Efficacy?

In 1977 psychologist Albert Bandura published his theory of self concept known as self efficacy theory (aka personal efficacy).

Bandura defined self efficacy as follows;

Albert Bandura Ph. D.

“People’s beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives” - (Bandura, 1994a)

Albert Bandura is perhaps the most widely renowned of modern day psychologists having widely influenced our understanding on the inner workings of the self through his research.

Bandura’s Self Efficacy Theory explains the differences between our expectation of success through ‘efficacy’ and ‘response to outcome’ behaviours.

The theory explains ‘outcome’ expectancy as our expectation that our behaviour will lead to certain outcomes. In contrast, it explains ‘efficacy’ as the personal conviction that we can successfully execute a task to produce the desired outcome.

If you don’t believe you have the ability to complete a task then you will be less likely to start. Or if you do start you are likely to give up before it’s completed.

The level of self efficacy you possess when you begin a task (working for yourself for example) will largely influence your ability to succeed.

As you complete tasks in your work, every mini success reinforces your sense of self efficacy. In other words the more you do it the more self belief you build and the better you get.

Therefore self efficacy is a constantly evolving process.

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The Difference Between High & Low Self Efficacy

I had, and still have, some self efficacy deficiencies on some subjects. This is in line with self efficacy theory which says that levels of self efficacy vary depending on the task.

In other words, I have a high degree of belief in my ability to do certain things, but with others I don’t.

If I want a PhD in psychology for example then I need to develop self efficacy around my ability to succeed academically.

In order for us creative people to find success in our careers, we must be willing and able to identify our own deficiencies in self belief and ability.

By taking an inner look at our own behaviour we can sometimes identify where these deficiencies lie.

This is not a harsh critical look, but rather an objective analysis of areas where we’ve succeeded and failed to reach our goals.

Creative People with High Self Efficacy May Display the Following

Artists and creatives who appear to achieve high degrees of creative and commercial success may display some of the following

  1. Intentionally approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered

  2. Set challenging goals and maintain strong commitment to completing them

  3. Heighten or sustain their efforts in the face of setbacks or failure

  4. Attribute their failure to lack of effort or insufficient knowledge or skills which are acquirable

  5. Tend to approach threatening situations with confidence they can exercise control over them

Creative People with Low Self Efficacy May Display the Following

In contrast, creative people who doubt their capabilities to succeed in their career commonly display the following behaviours;

  1. They will shy away from tasks they view as threatening

  2. Have low aspirations and commitment to goals they choose to pursue

  3. Focus on their deficiencies, obstacles, and adverse outcomes, rather than concentrating on how to perform successfully

  4. Slacken their efforts and give up quickly in the face of difficulties

  5. Slow to recover their sense of efficacy following failure or setbacks

  6. Susceptible to stress and depression

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How To Increase Self Efficacy

Bandura tells us there are four sources of self efficacy;

  1. Mastery — Experiencing success in smaller related tasks helps build confidence. Every day practice, in other words, is probably the most significant influence on the positive development of self efficacy. Dedication to mastering our creative skill is key to success.

  2. Observation — Seeing others of perceived related ability accomplish the same or closely related tasks help build confidence that we too can complete that task. On the flip side, seeing others fail despite significant effort erodes our personal belief that we can complete that task.

  3. Persuasion — Interaction with our social environment has a large influence on our perceived ability to succeed. Creative people who are persuaded verbally and socially that they have the ability to succeed are likely to sustain their efforts longer than those who are not.

  4. Emotional — Creative people are probably more tuned to our emotional state than less creative people. However pretty much everyone’s behaviour is influenced by these emotional states. Self Efficacy Theory says it is not the intensity of the emotional reaction that is important, but rather, how we perceive and interpret it.

21 Simple Ways To Increase Self Efficacy

Self efficacy is an aspect of the self that can be built with some effort and dedication to certain practices. In doing so we can move positively towards our goals.

  1. Join a small cooperative of creative people providing support to one another.

  2. Select small related goals that are easier to achieve.

  3. Set out a roadmap of smaller goals that lead to a primary goal.

  4. Avoid comparison with those further advanced, rather compare with your roadmap.

  5. Write self affirming statements daily.

  6. Support your contemporaries and take inspiration from their successes.

  7. Hook up with a fellow creative and support each other daily/weekly.

  8. Avoid circumstances and people who do not support your endeavours.

  9. Find a coach or mentor who has achieved what you want.

  10. Dedicate yourself to daily practice.

  11. Find connections between important, less amorous tasks and your primary goal.

  12. Change your workplace environment.

  13. Take time to analyse how your emotions rather than jumping to a familiar conclusion that you are not good enough.

  14. Accept feedback as a means to develop yourself towards your goal

  15. Watch your self talk. When familiar patterns of self talk occur, stop and choose to think the opposite.

  16. Every day recognise and gather evidence of your success no matter how small.

  17. Acknowledge successes in other artists and creatives work.

  18. Failures undermine self efficacy. Distance yourself from them by writing them off to experience.

  19. Persevere. Building resilience requires experience in overcoming obstacles through perseverant effort.

  20. Avoid familiar stressful situations as they will adversely affect performance.

  21. Realise failures are due to insufficient application of principles and actions, not due to the absence of ability.

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In Conclusion

The way of the artist and creative is traditionally a difficult one. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Our degree of self efficacy around particular tasks and elements of our career and work are largely shaped in our early years. But applying the above can change those beliefs.

Paying attention to behaviours and motivations, improving self regulation and perceived self efficacy can help us move towards what we want.

The alternative is that we stay where we are, stuck in a rut of underperformance and empty pockets.

I don’t know about you but that’s not my bag. I believe we’re entitled to find success from our work and make a good living.

It all starts with the mind.

Originally published at larrygmaguire.com on July 25, 2017.

The Artist’s Manifesto is a short book about staying true to our art. It is a call to Artists and Creatives like you to create from the heart with passion and integrity, disregarding the need for applause and recognition. It’s available from 13th May 2017. Grab your FREE copy here.

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Howdy, I’m Larry, Writer & Artist. Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. I write about art, creativity, business & marketing. When I’m not doing that I write short stories about the ordinary lives of people and the challenges they face. My stuff can be edgy, hard hitting, and sometimes controversial, but never contrived. If that’s your bag you can Sign-up To Sunday Letters Here.