Something that I have seen getting confused a lot lately is the difference between self-esteem and self efficacy especially when it comes to building confidence and how we praise. I just wanted to post a short abridged version in hopes that it clears up the differences.
One of my favorite quotes has always been “hard work beats effort when effort fails to work hard”. If that is true then why is it that our society is so focused on building self-esteem rather than praising the effort and hard work people put in to be truly great?
Let’s start with a few definitions for clarification:
Self-esteem is essentially your feelings of self-worth. This leads us to associate what we accomplish to be a part of who we are .
Self-efficacy is your perceived ability to perform a task. This is your confidence in getting a performance done.
Why does this even matter to your growth in performance?
We often work to build self- esteem by praising the end result and giving credit to “fixed” qualities ( “you’re so athletic” “ you’re smart” or “you’re talented “ but rarely praise the effort and strategies that were used to create the success. When an athlete has a successful performance and they credit that success to fixed qualities they have a much harder time with failure and lose. One of our most vital ways to build confidence is persuasion from others. When people are constantly telling us that we are “smart”, we are “talented”, we start to associate that with our self-identity, we see that as who we are and what we have to offer. When we fail its very common to associate those failures as a part of who we are and global and not a temporary moment that we can overcome. However if we spend just as much time ( or even more) praising the effort and strategies used to be successful then even when we fail we know what can be fixed and that we have the capability to do it. We don’t associate failure as a part of who I am but rather just a part of the process and are better mentally capable of bouncing back better than before.
We should not be using the praising of effort as a new method to build self-esteem but as a way to increase effort and self-efficacy. By no means is effort the only answer to success but it is the key to mastery and growth. If we remember the process and the hard work as we perform, whether we succeed or fail, we can bounce back and continue our journey to greatness.