Belief in What We Can Accomplish
Self-efficacy is about how much and how strongly we believe in our own ability to complete tasks and achieve goals. This thinking is at the heart of Albert Bandura’s theory of how social behaviours and cognitive process contribute to our approach to goals, tasks, and challenges. Bandura emphasises the role of observational learning and social experience in the development of personality. He also showed that differences in self-efficacy correlate to fundamentally different world views. People with high self-efficacy generally believe that they are in control of their own lives, that their own actions and decisions shape their lives, while people with low self-efficacy may see their lives as outside their control.
Nature or Nurture?
Similarly, for Carol Dweck, our success lies in our beliefs about why we’ve failed. Dweck’s fixed versus growth mindsets shows how views of our basic qualities like intelligence and talent impact on our success.
In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success — without effort. They’re wrong.
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work — brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.
Whether we believe intelligence is finite and quantifiable, or a quality that can be developed guides how we approach challenges, obstacles, effort, criticism, and the achievements of others.
Maria Popova connects Dweck’s mindset thinking to how we inhabit our personalities:
Dweck has found that one of the most basic beliefs we carry about ourselves has to do with how we view and inhabit what we consider to be our personality. A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled. A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.
Good for Business
The implications for learning and organisational development are significant. In a compelling interview, Dweck talks about optimal performance (or the how the difference between winning and losing is what we do with our mistakes), and why mentors need to view the world through lenses of possibility.