Do you remember Watty Piper's classic children's book, The Little Engine That Could?

Originally written in 1930, this story is about a train, who in spite of its small size, believed it could carry a more powerful train's load of toys up and over a mountain.

The idea that beliefs can impact performance is as relevant today as it was when it was first published over 85 years ago.


The term, self-efficacy, is defined by psychologist Albert Bandura as the belief in your ability to succeed at a task or in a given situation.

According to James Maddux (author of Self-Efficacy: The power of believing you can, included in The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology), when you trust your abilities, you are motivated to confidently face challenges. This conviction enables you to make better choices and persevere.

Self-efficacy implies a belief that your actions can change outcomes. Believing in your own abilities will increase the likelihood that you will perform to your capabilities.


A great example of self-efficacy can be seen in this little boy who believed in himself and his ability to learn how to ride a bike.

While there have been significant advancements in the world (science, technology, medicine, etc), many of us still suffer from insecurities about our own abilities.  



This lack of confidence is nowhere as evident as when you encounter "imposter syndrome." I was originally introduced to this concept in Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead and again in Amy Cuddy's Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.  

If you suffer from imposter syndrome you might feel that you don't deserve your position or that others will discover that you are a fraud. It stems from an inability to accurately and objectively assess your abilities.

It is a false and sometimes crippling belief that your success was a mistake or a fluke, that it somehow resulted from pure luck. It gets in the way of you performing at your best.


Feeling unsure of your capabilities? Quiet the voice in your head that is filling you with doubt by acknowledging the many reasons why you do have the right skills and can do a great job.

Keep reminding yourself by repeating the famous phrase "I think I can, I think I can" until you truly believe it and act accordingly.

What are your thoughts on the power of self-efficacy?
Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome?

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