While self-confidence is good, there is something that goes far beyond self-confidence and something that would really enrich your life. Interested? Yes, I’m talking about self-efficacy. So what is that?
Confidence in yourself refers to what you can do. It is your faith with yourself (con- with, plus fidence– fideo, faith, belief, trust). With self-confidence you trust and believe that you can do something. What do you trust yourself to be able to do? The fact is there are hundreds if not thousands of things that you do everyday that you have faith that you can do, that you can pull off. It’s not always been that way. Today the simplest things that you do were once upon a time major challenges—tying your shoes, getting dressed, eating, etc. Now you can do these things with your eyes closed!
Coming to trust and believe in your skills, your capacities, your ability to do something is an ongoing and life-long process. What are you now working on? What new skills are you developing that in a year or two you will look back and remember with delight that once upon a time it seemed hard, challenging, and difficult? Remember learning to drive a car, using a computer, typing on a keyboard.
Maybe you have learned to play an instrument, compete in tennis or gymnastics, rebuild an engine, write a grant proposal, or developed one or more of a thousand other more advanced skills. Whatever skills you have developed and practiced to the point of competence—you now have confidence that you can handle that. Confidence unveils your ability to function in a given area.
Self-efficacy is the name of the meta-state that goes far beyond mere self-confidence. Whereas self-confidence is about the past, self-efficacy is about the future. With any skill that you now have confidence about, that speaks about your history, what you have over time learned to do and do at a level of competence. That’s why the questions to ask about self-confidence are these:
What are you confident about? Can you do that skill? Are you competent in that?
Have you moved through the stages of unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and so you are now at the stage of unconscious competence?
Confidence, based on competence, means that you learned to do something so you can now perform the skill when you are called upon or when you so choose. It is under your control. You know how to do it, the state to access and operate from, the process that’s required, and so on. Now you can point to many instances over time wherein you demonstrated your competence.
Self-efficacy relates to the future rather than the past. In fact, if someone asks if you have ever done that particular skill, the answer is no. But you know you can. If someone asks me, “Do you know how to fly a helicopter?” I would say, “Sure. If I wanted to as part of my plans, sure. No problem.” Yet I never have. So what is the basis of the confidence inside of self-efficacy? The basis is based on several things— I know how to learn, I know how to learn something brand new, I know how to read and study, I know how to contract an instructor, I know how to follow instructions, I know how to set up a discipline for practice, I know how to patiently walk through the learning process, I know that it is just a matter of time (payment, hours of flight time, etc.), and I know how to persist until I succeed in a task.
The meta-state of self-efficacy arises from knowing yourself and knowing how you know things and how you learn things. And it naturally arises after you have walked the pathway from unconscious incompetence through the stages to conscious competence and then on to unconscious competence. After you have done that repeatedly, the moment (or moments) comes when you realize something. “I have done this before!” “I have repeatedly done this same process.” You then jump some logical levels as you realize several key things that make up the heart and soul of self-efficacy:
“I know that I will figure it out. I don’t have to know it all right now.”
“I know how to learn, how to relate, how to access resources, how to set up a practice discipline, how to persist, how to be resilient, etc.”
Now you have a state of mind-and-emotion that’s oriented toward your future. This is a common state for entrepreneurs and explains why they can move forward with “confidence” (actually self-efficacy) in areas that they have no experience. It is not a single skill that they feel confident about— it is something higher. They feel confidence or rather efficacious about their ability to learn, work through a process, and persist until they succeed. So when they launch out, to others without self-efficacy it might look scary, risky, and fearful. The entrepreneur with self-efficacy see it as just a matter of moving forward and “learning as I go.” “I will figure it out. That’s what I do— I figure things out and if I can’t, I know many others who can and I can create collaborative partnerships with them.”
Over the years I have written about this meta-state of self-efficacy in creating wealth (Inside-Out Wealth), in building businesses (Games Business Experts Play), in leadership (Unleashing Leadership) and in Coaching (The Meta-Coaching System). It shows up in so many areas of life. It is the foundation for resilience, for determination, and for being proactive (Achieving Peak Performance).
Want some? Unlike pseudo- self-confidence which some people build solely on their optimistic thinking about their dreams and hopes, real confidence and real efficacy is based on walking the pathway from incompetence to competence again and again and then, from those experiences drawing the conclusion that you know that pathway.
“I have walked that pathway often and when I move from unconscious incompetence into conscious incompetence—I know it is just a stage. It is just part of the process. And so I fully embrace the incompetence, the feelings of being awkward, and uncomfortable, and confidently move through it!”