**SELF MOTIVATION** (CHAPTER 1)
We all know someone who radiates self-confidence. Think about one of these people that you know in the workplace. What is it that their self-confidence helps them to achieve? Are they more willing to take on responsibility, at ease around their superiors, and able to admit when they have made a mistake? In this chapter we’ll examine the differences between self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy, as well as why each one is important in the work-place
Now think about someone at the workplace who does not have a lot of self-confidence. They might be shy, reserved, not willing to get into conversations where they might have to speak to their superiors or speak in front of other people. They might appear unhappy in the workplace, or at least not very excited about what it is that they are doing. Can you see how self-confidence might be important to people in being successful at work?
According to psychological research, there are several theories regarding how a person’s selfconfidence is important to their well-being and their ability to function in the world at their fullest potential. In this chapter we will look at the differences between self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy, and theories about why each is important in the workplace.
Self-confidence can be boiled down to the belief that a person has it in their ability to succeed at a task, based on whether or not they have been able to perform the task in the past. However, there are actually two aspects of self-confidence. The first is competence, whether or not you have the necessary skills and abilities to complete a task. The second is self-assurance and whether or not you believe that you have the ability to complete the task. There are two aspects of self-confidence: competence, or whether or not you possess the needed skills to achieve something, and self-assurance, or whether or not you believe that you have the ability to achieve it.
Think about this for a moment; you might have been trained in interview skills, but you might not feel comfortable in interviews. In this case you would have the competence but lack the self-assurance. On the other hand, you could believe that you have the ability to do something but not have the skills to actually carry it through. In this case you are very self-assured, but you don’t have the competence to do the job. True self-confidence occurs when both competence and self-assurance are in balance with each other. Self-confidence has been shown to be important in recovery from injury, overcoming setbacks, and moving through negative experiences in life. Someone with self-confidence has a belief that they will be able to recover, move past the negative, and again experience the positive. In the business world, self-confidence functions in much the same way. It enables an employee to recover from setbacks and challenges and continue to move forward.
Self-esteem is the capacity to respect and think well of yourself. It means that you appreciate yourself as a unique individual with your own set of skills, talents, and abilities. David Burns defines self-esteem as “the capacity to experience maximal self-love and joy whether or not you are successful at any point in your life.” Psychologist Maxine Elliott has researched self-esteem and realized that people’s self-esteem will vary from individual to individual when they are facing a setback. People who have a high level of self-esteem will be able to respond to a damaging event by using their past experience and their coping abilities and will not have much damage to their current level of self-esteem. They will still see themselves as valuable and talented even if the current evidence seems to indicate otherwise.
Self-esteem can be defined as “the capacity to experience maximal self-love and joy whether or not you are successful at any point in your life.” However, most people will experience some loss of self-esteem when they face a negative situation and unfortunately, those who already have low self-esteem will also experience the largest reduction in what little self-esteem they have. In other words, they will see their failure as further proof that they are incapable of being successful. This type of negative cycle will perpetuate itself each time that a person with low self-esteem faces failure, criticism, or roadblocks.
SELF-EFFICACY Albert Bandura is considered an expert on the concept of self-efficacy. He stated that people perceive their own self-efficacy as “people’s judgments of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performances. It is concerned not with the skills one has but with the judgments of what one can do with whatever skills one possesses.” In other words, self-efficacy is an individual’s evaluation of their own ability to be successful in attaining a specific goal. Self-efficacy is related to our judgments about our own capabilities and what we believe we are or are not able to do with those capabilities.
Bandura stated that the amount of self-efficacy a person has is dependent on their ability to apply coping behaviors, increase their level of effort, and how long they will be able to retain their optimism when facing difficult obstacles and experiences. In addition, he stated that the more a person is tested by facing their fears and stepping outside of their comfort zones, the more they will enhance their sense of self-efficacy. If a person does not have a base level of self-efficacy, they will be unwilling to attempt a new task or challenge, which could of course hold them back in the workplace. The greater your self-efficacy, the more willing you will be to grow your skills by attempting new challenges – and the less you will be affected if you don’t succeed.
SOURCES OF SELF-EFFICACY
There are four main sources that allow people to build their self-efficacy. These are: • Mastery experiences • Social models • Social persuasion • Emotional states
Let’s look at each one of these individually: • Mastery experiences – this is the most effective way to create a strong sense of self-efficacy for a person. As each success is achieved, the sense of self-efficacy is reinforced. However, a bit of failure is important as well. If people only experience easy successes, they will begin to feel that success is what they should experience every time they make an attempt at something new. Some setbacks are important because they teach us that we need to make a sustained effort to be successful. Still, upsets should not come, if it can be avoided, until a person has had a chance to establish a certain level of self-efficacy.
Once we see ourselves succeed, we are more likely to believe that we can do it again. • Social models – these are examples of others who we see succeed. When we see someone that we feel is similar to ourselves achieve, we will feel that we are likely to be able to follow suit. At the same time, seeing people like ourselves fail despite a level of sustained effort can have a negative impact on our own self-efficacy. These models are most effective, in either case, when they are perceived to have the greatest similarity to ourselves. These models tell us the types and level of competencies to which we should aspire if we want to be successful in the workplace – and in life in general. We will believe we can do something more readily if we see someone like us achieve it first. • Social persuasion – the old pep talk. When we can persuade someone that they have the competencies and abilities to master an activity, they are more likely to make longer, sustained efforts at achieving success than if they have significant self-doubt. While social persuasion can enhance self-efficacy, it can even more easily diminish it. People tend to easily believe the negative and may decide that they are unqualified to even attempt a task – even if they actually do have the ability to complete it successfully.
This factor points to the importance of leaders in an organization to frequently persuade people that they are capable and competent. We will believe we can do something more readily if we have others tell us that they believe we can do it.