By May 19, 2009 12 Comments Read More →

The Quest for Personal Power

TheQuestForPersonalPower

My favorite definition of power is, “the ability to act.”  So personal power is the ability for you to take action.  Self-belief is the energy that drives you to take action.  Self-efficacy is your belief about how much you can control your own actions and the events that affect your life.  One of the worst enemies of personal power is, learned helplessness — why bother if you can’t get results? That’s why self-efficacy is so important.  If you have confidence in your ability to get results, you’ll take action and build momentum.

In the book Emotional Capitalists: The New Leaders (J-B Foreign Imprint Series – EMEA) , Martyn Newman writes about the quest for personal power and the four main sources of self-efficacy.

Key Take Aways
Here’s my key take aways:

  • Self-belief is your energy for results.   When you believe that your can get results, you have more energy to take action.
  • Know the 4 main sources of self-efficacy.  The four source are: 1) mastery 2) modeling 3) mentoring and 4) mood.
  • Master emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence is so important because it helps you interpret your feelings and take appropriate actions.

Why Self-Efficacy 
Why does self-efficacy matter so much?  Newman writes:

What does a psychology of leadership come down to?  After more than a quarter of a century of studying how people make their best choices, seize opportunities, generate lasting motivation, maintain energetic mood states and develop resilience to adversity and stress, psychologists are almost unamimous that most of it depends on how much self-efficacy you possess … Self-efficacy beliefs determine how you feel, think, motivate yourself and behave. 

4 Main Sources of Self-Efficacy
According to Newman, the four main sources of self-efficacy beliefs are:

  • Mastery – value what you do.
  • Modeling – seeing is believing.
  • Mentoring – listening to trusted advisers.
  • Mood – if it feels good, do it.

Mastery
Getting successes under your belt help build confidence.  Newman writes:

The first source of self-efficacy involves mastery experiences.  Each success you experience builds a robust belief in your self-efficacy.  They accumulate to convince you that you have what it takes.  That’s why it’s so critical that you regularly remind yourself of your positive efforts and reward yourself for them.

Modeling

When you see other people succeed by applying skills, you learn that you too can learn and apply skills.  Newman writes:

The second source of self-efficacy is modeling.  Seeing people similar to yourself succeed by sustained effort increases your belief that you, too, possess the capabilities to master similar skills and challenges.

Mentoring
Other people’s confidence in you, fuels your own confidence.  Newman writes:

The third source of self-efficacy comes from the effect that other people have on you.  The more you are persuaded by trusted advisers that you possess the capabilities to master the challenges of leadership, the more likely you are to mobilize your efforts to develop the skills you need to succeed.  This implies that you are receptive to others.

Mood
Your mood shapes your self-efficacy beliefs.  Newman writes:

The fourth sense of self-efficacy may be surprising to some.  It comes from the feedback you receive from your emotional and physical experience.  These experiences shape your mood and your mood affects your judgements about your personal efficacy.  A positive mood enhances your self-efficacy.

Why Emotional Intelligence is So Important
You need to know what your emotions are telling you.  Newman writes:

This is where emotional intelligence is so important.  If you are not fully aware of what emotions you are feeling and how it affects you, you lose a crucial piece of feedback to inform your actions.  Research on emotional intelligence has taught us that thoughts and feelings, cognitions, and emotions, work together to create action.  And for the simple reason that thoughts determine feelings and actions, a number of psychological and philosophical traditions such as Buddhism, emphasise, ‘right thinking’ as a path to maturity and freedom.

You can find more insights and actions in the book Emotional Capitalists: The New Leaders (J-B Foreign Imprint Series – EMEA) .

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12 Comments on "The Quest for Personal Power"

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  1. This article has put me in such a good mood I’m going to post this, shut down the computer and go do somethign efficient, like the dishes and building upon that success maybe even fold some laundry with a whistle and a smile.

    Thanks!

  2. “Mood – if it feels good, do it.” – is my favorite. I can safely assume that something that does not feel good – do not do it ;) I follow these two and my values seem to be happy with it getting my personal power much higher ;)

  3. “Learned helplessness” is one of those silent killers in the world, so I am glad you pointed it out front and center in the beginning of this post. You are your own steam engine, you are your own spark … great post JD.

    –Kevin

  4. J.D. Meier says:

    @ Jannie

    A little whistle and a smile goes a long way.

    @ Alik

    I found myself checking my emotions as input today with a lot more care. Is that “off” feeling … hunger? … tired? … not working on the right thing? Mood matters.

    @ Kevin

    Thank you. I agree – your best source of power is inside out.

  5. This sounds like a very interesting read. I’m going to check it out. Thanks for summing up the key points so nicely. It makes me want to know more about the book, but also gives me an idea of what it’s about from an insider perspective. Thanks! :)

  6. Writer Dad says:

    It’s true about other people’s confidence fueling your own. I never would have believed it until I started to live through the last nine months.

  7. JD says:

    @ Positively Present

    The more I read this book, the more it grows on me. It’s written so simply, and says a lot with so little. It also connects a lot of the dots in such an important space. Emotional Intelligence is seriously one of the best skills you can master in life. It’s key to skilled living.

    @ Writer Dad

    You’re living proof and I know you can move mountains now. What’s important though is that your confidence is flowing inside out. That’s the same confidence that’s contagious and will help lift others up as well.

  8. Gennaro says:

    I’m a big believer in emotional intelligence. Was initially introduced to it by Daniel Goleman’s book. In the end, much of our power comes from understanding our relationship with other people and how we can harness that.

  9. This is very inspiring. I haven’t heard much about self-efficacy before, but now my curiosity is piqued, and I’d like to learn more about it and how I can apply it to my writing. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Praveen Rangarajan says:

    I like the simplicity with which the emotional space has been dealt with. Interesting and inspiring.
    It is so true that you should be fully aware of your emotions. I have been with a lot of people who keep telling me that they are “not in the mood to do it”. To know you are “not in the mood” is one thing, but to know “why you are not in the mood” is another.
    There have been situations when I have not been able to identify the “why” portion of it. The important thing however is that I don’t ponder over it too much. I try and do something that will cheer me up or change my mood. Basically relax my mind. It has worked for me so far.

  11. J.D. Meier says:

    @ Genarro

    Dan’s the man. The more I study EQ, the more I see how it’s a key to unleashing the best in our selves and the best in others.

    @ Melissa

    Thank you. Writing’s a powerful way to reshape your thoughts and your world, so it should fit nicely with self-efficacy. It’s a fancy word, but I like its meaning.

    @ Praveen

    Knowing what works for you is the key. One lens that might help is thinking in temrs of strengths and weaknesses. If you spend too much time in weaknesses and not enough time in your strengths, you’ll get drained and won’t have your best moods.

  12. Louisa says:

    Power = the ability to act. I like that a lot! :-)

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