I can (‘t)

I’m not one for reading many books on self-development. The last book I read of this genre was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, which was about a year ago. Recently however, I purchased a book called Confidence-How to overcome your limiting beliefs and achieve your goals, by best selling author Martin Meadows. I wouldn’t say I have a particular confidence issue as such, but I think it could be better. I thought it would be useful to summarise what I learnt from reading the book, just so I could reflect upon it when I need it most. Please note, how I’ve divided it below really is just a summary of some take home messages I picked up from reading. I encourage you to have a read of the book if you want, and develop your own understanding. So here goes…

It turns out that while we can identify goals we want to accomplish, there are reasons why we don’t see them through. One of them is low self-efficacy, i.e deep down, we don’t believe we can achieve our goals. Martin Meadows defines self efficacy as:

‘the strength of your beliefs in your ability to complete tasks successfully’. 

So what can decrease self-efficacy?

Failure: If you fail at something, self-efficacy decreases and you enter an ongoing cycle that leads to even more failure. Your mind becomes fixed that you can’t achieve your goal, as it’s now perceived from a self-limited point of view. Those with high self-efficacy don’t approach failures in the same way as people with less belief in their ability. This book revealed that successful people are more likely to achieve big goals, because they built powerful self efficacy. By starting off with small, achievable wins (by identifying the main priority in their plans and focusing on the big picture), they developed confidence in their abilities and believed they could go onto bigger things. Martin Meadows reminds us that failure is ‘not a testament to your lack of abilities’. Obstacles are there for a reason-to remind people why they need to keep going, and to show us how badly we want something. As quoted by Professor Randy Pausch in this book ‘brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough’.

Stress: Self-efficacy decreases if you believe stress is associated with an inability to perform. Those with a strong sense of self-efficacy don’t associate stress with a lack of ability, but instead interpret it as the normal body’s ‘heightened awareness’, before performing a task.

Psychological influences: Discouragement has a more powerful negative impact than a positive impact from encouragement, because we naturally pay more attention to the negative feedback. Self-expectations tend to determine our performance. If you doubt your ability to achieve success, you won’t do your best (what’s the point?). Avoid the negative thoughts which can affect your performance and implement positive self talk if you have to…no matter how corny it may sound!

Lack of responsibility: Those with a high self-efficacy believe that they can control the events that affect them, and therefore take responsibility for their own actions and decisions. Those who don’t believe in their own abilities tend to blame the world for their failures, and in reality that’s never the case.

I know a lot of the stuff I’ve probably mentioned might come across as quite obvious. However, I like to be ‘reminded’ of the obvious stuff. It generally makes me feel a little bit better about things. Until next time 🙂

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