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The #1 Predictor and Determinant of Success in Your Life

chart.jpgWhat do you think is the #1 determinant of a person’s success or failure in any given activity? Do you think it’s money? How about intelligence? Natural disposition? Supporting relationships? All of these have an impact, no doubt. But the #1 determinant (and most accurate predictor) of success or failure is a concept many people have never heard of: self-efficacy.

Self-Efficacy vs. Self-Esteem

Self-efficacy is defined as confidence in your ability to achieve a desired outcome, whereas self-esteem is a general feeling about your self-worth.

  • Self-esteem asks, “How do I feel about myself?”
  • Self-efficacy asks, “Can I do this?”

Why is Self-Efficacy Important?

As I already mentioned, self-efficacy is the single greatest determinant of your success or failure. If you have high self-efficacy, you are one step ahead of everyone else because you are willing to put your plans into motion.    

Maybe you’ve always wanted to start your own business or go back to school — So why haven’t you? Because you think you will fail? Some people are so afraid of failure they never follow their heart. When asked why they never went to college, pursued the career of their dreams, or attempted to find more satisfying relationships, they respond by saying, “Oh, I couldn’t do that.”

This attitude is self-defeating. Even if you lack the skills to be successful at something today, you might develop the skills tomorrow if you start trying.  

I am reminded of a quote from the movie Batman Begins, when Alfred says, “Why do we fall, Master Wayne? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

We learn from our failures. Just think about how many times you fell before you walked, how many meaningless sounds you made before you talked. If you won’t risk failure, you’ll never grow. The sad irony is that the people with the greatest certainty of success (as determined by a high self-efficacy) are the ones most willing to risk failure. This says something about human nature: Even though failure is essential to growth, no one likes to fail. Certainty of success breeds action. Fear of failure breeds inaction and ineptitude.

It’s a vicious cycle. If you lack self-efficacy, you will fear failure.  If you fear failure, you will never act. If you never act, you will never succeed. And if you never succeed, you will never develop self-efficacy.

Developing Self-Efficacy

You can build self-efficacy by accomplishing something.  Accomplishment helps you learn to trust your skills.

Spend a few minutes thinking of something you have always wanted to do. Pick something challenging, yet achievable.

Now create a plan, writing down each step required to obtain your goal. 

Once you have your plan, work it.  The first step you complete is the most important because it signals commitment to action.  You’re probably going to fail, but as Alfred so eloquently said, we fall so we can learn to pick ourselves up.

Instead of fearing failure, embrace it. Failure is your friend! As long as your failures are a natural product of working your plan and are moving you closer to your desired end-state, they are good. When you fail, figure out why and be determined to learn from it. What can you do to improve your chances of success next time? Find someone who has accomplished what you are trying to do and ask for her advice.

As you work your plan, be tenacious.  Success breeds self-efficacy, which breeds more success.  Pretty soon you’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about.


Categories: Be Successful


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