The Power of Stories

Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in their own ability to overcome challenges to reach their goal.

Put simply, it’s about believing in yourself — about telling yourself a story that you are capable of accomplishing what you set out to do.

As a culture, we haven’t fully realized just how important and powerful these stories are.

Studies have shown many times that self-efficacy is a strong predictor of outcomes everywhere from education to medicine. In addiction treatment, for example, high self-efficacy is associated with a higher probability of someone breaking their addiction.

Let’s take a second to unpack that, because it’s such a remarkable finding.

Overcoming an addiction is extremely hard. But the simple act of believing in your ability to overcome your dependence increases the likelihood of your success.

In other words, the stories you tell yourself can lead to profound physiological change.

To be clear, the research on this phenomenon has mostly focused on exploring a correlation. But it doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to see a causal relationship.

Anyone who’s ever told a friend “you can do this!” has already intuited this. Expressing confidence in someone else is a gift — it’s a way of offering them a leg up as they reach for greater self-efficacy.

Because when we share stories about change with others, we plant the seeds for them to become true.


Reflections on creating systems to sustainably grow your impact on the world.
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