Written by Michael Palanski
Photo by Japheth Mast
One of the most effective ways to drive to performance is to build self-efficacy, or the fundamental belief that oneself is capable to performing a particular task. But how can we build self-efficacy in ourselves and in others? Research on self-efficacy shows us that one of the best ways to do is is through enactive mastery.
Enactive mastery involves creating a situation in which people can experience a “small win” which becomes a catalyst for further performance. For example, on the very first day of my ninth-grade Latin 1 class, our teacher, Mr. Tuscano, wrote the following sentence on the board, and challenged the class to translate it:
“Roma in Italia est.”
It didn’t take a Latin expert to figure out that Rome is in Italy. So within the first two minutes of class, we had already translated an entire sentence! This exercise was the very definition of a small win and became a touchstone for the more difficult learning ahead.
As another example, my two youngest children have recently begun taking skiing lessons. I’ve noticed that one of the primary goals is to quickly get the kids into a position where they can turn and stop. With commands like “pizza!” and “cookie!”, the kids are able to ski the bunny slope by the end of their first lesson. Their burgeoning confidence leads to enjoyment and motivation to continue to improve. (And, trust me, any experience that leads to a 4-year-old wanting to put the skis on again is a win!)
So, as you are thinking about how to build your own self-efficacy, what are some ways you can set yourself for some small wins in order to achieve enactive mastery? Likewise, how can you help others create similar situations?