Awareness & Self-efficacy

A note to my future self..

This week I’ve been reading Quirky by Melissa Schilling and it has been quite an interesting read so far. The book is a broad case study of 8 innnovators (e.g. Elon Musk, Nikola Tesla, Marie Curie, etc.) and the traits that these innovators might share. On chapter 2 Schilling talks about self-efficacy and the idea that the most emblematic innovators have an extraordinary sense of self-efficacy and that this allows them to follow through with an idea even if others don’t believe in it. Before moving on here’s Schilling definition of self-efficacy, which I really liked:

Self-efficacy is a form of task-specific self-confidence, such as a person’s faith in her ability to solve particular kinds of problems and achieve particular kinds of objectives.

Now Schilling’s point makes a lot of sense. Think about it. Innovators need to be aware that there is something fundamentally different about them that will allow them to do something that other people can’t. According to Schilling this awareness of their capabilities can probably be traced back to different episodes throughout the lives of the innovators were they were recognized for the abilities and/or they realized they had an easy time doing something that other people felt was really hard.

The Takeaway

Awareness of your capabilities leads to self-efficacy

The key takeaway for me is that being aware of your capabilities is what allows you to have the confidence and more specifically the self-efficacy necessary to achieve great things. In other words, self-efficacy is something that we find inside us and not through external validation. This seems obvious but looking at it through the lives of these innovators and applying this psychological lens to it provides an interesting perspective on confidence and grit.