4/28/22: The key to controlling your confidence

Sent 4/28/22

  • I'll be traveling for the first time in over two years next week, so I don't expect to send a newsletter. Thanks for understanding!
  • I wrote an article about 10 simple phrases to boost your confidence. It's very much related to this week's newsletter.
  • UCAN hosted a Boston Marathon panel with Meb Keflezighi, Emily Sisson, Emma Bates, and Tommie Runz, hosted by Carrie Tollefson and Angie Spencer. We'll be running it on the Fueling the Pursuit feed soon. Subscribe wherever you listen to your podcasts!

This week's Think Better Newsletter is about the ways we can boost our self-efficacy.  

The Idea

Have you ever had the experience where you only realize something exists because you learn its name? I remember learning the word arachibutyrophobia, or a fear of peanut butter, and realizing that the world is a much more random place than we can ever imagine.

In a more practical example, I remember taking a class on learning theory and first encountering self-efficacy, a concept proposed by psychologist Albert Bandura.

Self-efficacy is our belief in our ability to accomplish a task based on the effort we put into it.

So here's the thing that hit me. I always assumed confidence was an innate trait that we either had or didn't have. I felt confident in school or sports because I was good at them and I didn't feel confident performing on stage or asking out girls because I wasn't good at them.

I had a talent-first mentality about everything, including my own confidence. I didn't recognize the connection between confidence and hard work/preparation until I literally learned there was a word for it.

And then it became pretty obvious that areas I didn't feel confident were also areas where I put very little effort. Or where I'd never been encouraged to see myself as capable. Or where I was just afraid to try.

When I combined self-efficacy with the concepts of attribution theory, the initial concepts that became the Momentum Model, and fixed vs growth mindset, I realized just how self-limiting my mindset was.

It's no coincidence that all of my biggest breakthroughs, in running and in class, came shortly after engaging with this material. Doing so boosted my self-efficacy, and that led to doing better work. Better results were inevitable.

The System

There are six ways we typically improve self-efficacy. The first four are the main factors identified by Bandura. The other two are areas I added based on considering the way elite performers practice and talk about their success. Here's the chart from Chapter 6 of Make the Leap.

The six factors that affect your self-efficacy

  • Personal Experience is doing something the first time (or doing something like it).
  • Vicarious Experience is seeing someone you relate to do it. 
  • Social Persuasion is being told by an authority that you can do it. 
  • Physiological Factors are based on how you feel when you do it. 
  • Visualization relates to having mentally experienced your success, and
  • Faith is the feeling that you are meant to be doing it.

Each of these can be used strategically to boost your self-efficacy. The more confident you become, the more likely you are to persist until you're successful.

Learn more:

Read 10 Simple Phrases to Boost Your Confidence

The Question

Which of the above factors do you draw on for confidence? Which can you focus on a little more? 


Go Be More,

Bryan Green
Author of Make the Leap: Think Better, Train Better, Run Faster and the companion Think Better Workbook
Co-host of the Go Be More Podcast
Co-host of the Fueling the Pursuit Podcast

“Self belief does not necessarily ensure success. But self disbelief assuredly spawns failure.”
— Albert Bandura



Please share this newsletter with anyone who would appreciate receiving it.

Receive this from a friend? Subscribe today to receive this email directly in your inbox. 

Or read previously published Think Better newsletters here.