As parents, grandparents, teachers and such, we want to teach our children to believe in their own ability to “cause, bring about or make happen” the things they want in their lives – or as Dr. Albert Bandura calls it, self-efficacy. As employers, we want to see this same belief in our workforces. However, is there an expiration date to self-efficacy? As it turns out, there isn’t.
Several years ago, as the world commemorated the anniversary of the D-Day allied landings on the beaches of Normandy, a story appeared in the news about a 93-year old American gentleman, who had served with the 101st Airborne Division. He didn’t go to Normandy to revisit old memories, or to be celebrated for what had happened that day. He went to make another parachute jump, into France. Of course, there was concern for his safety – after all, he was 93. But he landed like a pro, and after being helped to his feet, spritely walked away.
Facebook is filled with examples of personal efficacy from every age and location. Children feeding the hungry because they see the need, and not questioning their own ability to help. A homeless man, sitting at an empty piano in a mall, providing glorious music for shoppers from an unexpected source. Seniors keeping active creating playgrounds, teaching kids how to read, and contributing their time and talents to solve problems and fulfill needs.
We all have this capacity, this belief in our own efficacy, and it changes with the situation. We may feel totally confident in our ability to paint the house, but not in our ability to create a work of art on a painting canvas. We may make a terrific grilled cheese sandwich, but not believe we can pull off a full seven-course, sit-down banquet dinner for 20 guests.
You see, it’s all about our beliefs in who we are and what we can do. Change the beliefs, and you change the way you run your life. Grow your self-efficacy, and you get yourself rigged up and once again parachute into France, at the age of 93. Change the beliefs and there is very little stopping you from fulfilling your dreams.
Build your self-efficacy so you try new things because you believe you can. Efficacy causes us to do more and be more. Life is meant to be lived, not observed from afar. What are you waiting for?