Tag Archives: Self-efficacy

Turn MAY into the month of CAN. Know you can. Kick the can. MAYke it a month of I CAN

Remember being a little kid and asking your parent’s something like, “Can I go to the store?” The retort was probably something like, “I don’t know CAN you?” The moral of that story was the all-too-familiar lesson in manners and asking the right question. So, you probably corrected it to be more appropriate for the request. “May I go to the store?” Lesson learned. Your request might have been more about asking permission? Lesson #304 (give or take) was about who is in charge and who grants permission.

But, maybe you really did mean CAN. This Can Concept is about ability. Can is about having the ability to accomplish something. This is our raw ability or our natural talents and skills. We all have a natural ability for something. We might not understand what it is, or maybe it takes us a while to discover our ability because we’re too busy asking if we MAY do something rather than exploring what we CAN do.

Let’s kick the CAN around a bit.  CAN = to able to, having an ability, power, skill, know how, have the means to, have permission

The Gallup organization has created a huge industry around what we CAN do. They call it Strengthsquest. If you haven’t checked out their work you might be interested in seeing what your top FIVE strengths are. Reading their material you will see that

Strength= Naturally occurring patters of thought, feeling, behaviors (Talent) + ability to perform (Skills) + Facts, lessons, Experience (Knowledge)

But knowing our strengths doesn’t do much for us if we are still stuck on this concept of MAY I over CAN I? What is the CAN I piece?


This psychologist, Dr. Albert Bandura, has studied and written about some pretty cool things. He talks about social learning theory and some thinking/cognitive theory stuff. But for now let’s explore SELF-EFFICACY.


I love the words SELF-EFFICACY. For one reason, it is just plain fun to say. Another reason, in my little mind, is just saying it makes you sound smart. Then if you can use it in a sentence…WHOA.


Efficacy. It’s a $5 word for effectiveness or the quality of being successful or producing what you meant to produce. Throw the word SELF in front of it and it seems a little redundant. But your lawn mower can be effective and do its job too, so maybe self really does help as a descriptor.

So SELF-efficacy can be interpreted to mean that I really CAN go to the store. I have the ABILITY to go to the store. I can do this whether you give me permission or not.

I am ABLE.  Done! Boom! Pow!

Self-efficacy is one’s perception about his/her own ability to perform at a certain level or the ability to influence events. This perception is so powerful that self-efficacy has been shown to be a solid predictor of accomplishments based on previous attainments or knowledge. It has been said that the best predictor or future performance is past performance. Imagine that we do it and therefore we realize we can do it…again. BUT, how do we understand that we can do it to begin with?

Here is the cool part – Dr. Bandura studied this and started a whole bunch of people studying it too. He found out that self-efficacy is based on about FOUR things.

Mastery Experience – The fact that you know yourself and what you can accomplish; this is your ability or abilities. Another cool part here is that if you have done something LIKE the anticipated event/activity you can say, “Since I did that…. I can do this!”

Vicarious Experience – We are all surrounded by others doing things. Sometimes we base our ability on a comparison with others. So we think, “Well if he/she can do it, then no sweat I can do It.” or “We have similar abilities, I got this.”

Social Persuasion – having our own set of cheerleaders, mentors, and friends helps to get the encouragement from others to make something happen.

Emotional Arousal – this might get a little tricky for some of us, if we are in an I CAN mood and/or happy, then emotionally we are probably ready to try. If our pity party is in full swing, then maybe not so much. We have to push through and know that we can try. We might have to try again, but TRY it. It is like that other parental game, “you just have to take one bite to see if you really do like it or not. Just try it.”

I think I can… I think I can…I think I can… Remember the book, The Little Engine That Could. Know that our self-efficacy is based on a recipe of about four things. Four things that are mostly in your control.

Take a bite. What will you try today? You have a whole month to practice giving yourself permission (May, 2014) to see that you Can. Stretch your self-efficacy to the LIMITS.

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