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Annalise looked at her team lead in disbelief as she said. “Synthesis this information into a brief and email it to me by the end of today.” Overwhelm washed over her. She was new at writing briefs.


“I can’t do this” kept pulsating through her as she smiled outwardly at her manager and said, “Okay.” The lunch that had tasted so good a moment ago no longer felt so good. “Why did I take this job? Why did I believe I could be successful in this new position. I can’t do this.”

Ever been there?

Ever doubted yourself?

I don’t know a person who hasn’t doubted themselves at some point in time.

Let’s not focus on doubt. Instead, let’s look at the opposite of self-doubt, self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy is critical to achieving our goals, dreams, projects, and outcomes. We are not even aware of how it affects our outlook, decisions, and how we show up in the world.

Albert Bandura, a professor at Stanford University, conceptualized and articulated the definition of self-efficacy. He defines self-efficacy as “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.” (Bandura, 1995)

Analise’s belief that she could create the brief for her team lead was minimal. Her faith in her ability to execute the action was not strong. She had low self-efficacy.

Think of self-efficacy like this:

Take two people—one with high self-efficacy and the other with low self-efficacy.

  • One says,” Yes, I can!” The other says, “I don’t think I can.” or straight up, “I can’t.”
  • One person’s world is expanding. The other person’s “I can’t world” is shrinking.
  • One’s embracing challenges as something to accomplish, to master. The other is pulling a pillow over their head, saying, “it’s too much.”
  • One’s sets audacious goals. The other, when looking at their goals, notice all the things that are going wrong. Their inner stress level has just gone up another notch.

One has high self-efficacy, the other low self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy reflects what you are willing to do, whether you try for a new job, make a life change, or take on a higher leadership level.

Self-efficacy is so intangible we don’t even think about it. It’s like the oxygen we breathe, the oxygen that allows us to live. When the oxygen is optimal, we can live fully. We run, dance, play. Yet decrease the oxygen level, and we become lethargic and do not think clearly.

You can’t see the oxygen, yet you see the outcome of what it does in our body.

You can’t see self-efficacy, yet the way you show up in life is because of it. Self-efficacy permeates everything you do.

Can you shift it? Yes, you can. I have seen this firsthand when working with clients.

Embrace strengthening your self-efficacy, and it will change your life. It will change how you show up in the world, the decisions you make, your influence, and your impact!