“You have strong self-efficacy and an internal locus of control.” This is a good thing and it is psychological jargon. Self-efficacy means that you believe that you have the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to do your assigned tasks at work (ability). Internal locus of control means that you see yourself as having control over your actions and not fate, luck or external forces (motivation and attitude). In other words, you know you can do your job and you are a self-starter. You don’t wait to be told what to do and are not afraid to ask questions if you are uncertain about something. Both of these traits are elements of well-being and develop as a result of your continuous learning in the context of your values and the meaning you give to your work.
Basically, these terms mean that you are capable, self-motivating and have a positive attitude about your work. If you are reading this blog regularly and doing the exercises, you are working on you ability, motivation and attitude.
Self-efficacy is more than confidence; it is based on your performance history and is tied to the tasks in your job description. You strengthen your self-efficacy through learning, practice, modeling desired behaviors demonstrated by others and “verbal persuasion,” more commonly known as encouragement from others. Henry Ford gave us a very simple definition of self-efficacy when he said. Whether you think you can or you can’t. You are probably right.
Interestingly, failure along with persistence and patience is important in developing strong self-efficacy. Author J.K. Rawling’s first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was rejected by 12 publishers before Bloomsbury, a small publishing house in London agreed to publish it. Even then, the publisher encouraged her to “get a day job.” Decca Records refused to offer the Beatles a recording contract because they “didn’t like the sound” and Michael Jordon was cut from his high school basketball team in his sophomore year.
According to Albert Bandura, a pioneer in the field of self-efficacy, “People need to learn how to manage failure so it’s informational and not demoralizing.” We develop self-efficacy, in part, by learning from our mistakes.
Internal Locus of Control
Self-efficacy drives motivation, which in turn, affects locus of control. Do you feel like a victim at work or do you feel that you have some control over your work? People who feel like victims have an external locus of control while those who feel they have some control over their situation have an internal locus of control.
In some ways, people with an external locus of control may have a fairly tame, easy work situation. They wait for others to tell them what to do and when something goes wrong, it is someone else’s fault. Basically, they go with the flow and in some situations that is perfectly acceptable. During my summer break from college, I worked on an assembly line in a toy factory and it was a classic case of external locus of control. The shift supervisor told me where to work, what to do and went to take a break. I didn’t have to decide anything. I just showed up and did the work. But, it was boring and tedious and by the end of summer, I was highly motivated to return to college.
An internal locus of control means that you have the opportunity to control or manage, to some extent, the work you do. You decide the order in which your work will be done; the resources you need to do the work; the time frame; and the amount of work you will do. You also accept responsibility for the quality of your work, the nature of your relationships with your co-workers and managers; and the satisfaction of your customers.
Although having an internal locus of control seems harder than an external locus, it has its advantages. When it is combined with self-efficacy, integrity and a sense of meaning, it leads to improved well-being, increased job satisfaction and better paying jobs.
Twenty years from no you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.” ~ Mark Twain
Developing self-efficacy and internal locus of control or ability, motivation and a positive attitude helps prevent future disappointments. Think of a time you learned something important or when you took the initiative on a task or a project. How did that make you feel? Now imagine how you would feel if you hadn’t learned or taken the initiative? Would you regret it?
 Bandura, A (1997). Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control. Freeman: New York (212-258).
 Dormann, C.; Fay, D.; Zapf, D.; Frese, M. (2006). “A state-trait analysis of job satisfaction: On the effect of core self-evaluations”. Applied Psychology: an International Review 55 (1): 27–51