efficacy photo

I was 35 years old before I first flew in an airplane. I didn’t need to fly in an airplane where I went. I never left Seattle. When Diane and I would plan a vacation, we thought of going to Portland, Oregon, 150 miles away, and staying with somebody we knew there. Going to a hotel never came to our minds.

You don’t let yourself think about what you believe you can’t cause or accomplish.

For years, I was stuck in poverty; stuck in Burien, a suburb of Seattle; stuck in just hoping, wishing, and dreaming; stuck in wanting to win the lottery. I would think, “How can I be what I see other people being? They must be born that way I can’t be like that. I can’t earn money. I can’t grow in character and wisdom. I can’t be rich, and still be a good person.”

Those were my rationalizations for not getting myself out of my rut. But one day Diane and I decided to set out on a journey to develop our inner strength. We constantly worked on the inside so that we could be more and do more on the outside.

As you develop your inner strength, your dreams get bigger, your aspirations get bigger, your goals get bigger, and what you expect of yourself gets bigger. You want to attack bigger problems and face bigger challenges. You want to become more every day through study, learning, changing your beliefs, overcoming your fears, changing your attitudes, developing relationships. As you build inner strength, you say, “I think I can do that. I think I can do this.” You get bigger ideas, creating greater discrepancy between your here and there.

Causative Power

Efficacy refers to the ability to cause and make happen. As you increase your power to cause and make happen what you want to make happen, you gain the courage and confidence to say, “Give me the next one, give me the next one.” You begin to see bigger and better ideals, and more options and possibilities. And you begin to see yourself in new conditions and situations.

While it’s important to know that you can learn, to know that you are bright and capable, you need more than self-knowledge to create self-efficacy and to boost your causative power. You must know how to change your attitudes and habits, how to motivate yourself constructively, how to rid yourself of negative thinking, and how to reject invalid ideas. You must know how because bad attitudes, habits, and ideas override good intentions and high ideals.

To achieve your stretch goals, you will need to increase the causative power not only in yourself but also in the people around you in your family, in your company, and in your community. To develop your causative power, you use imagination and affirmation to develop your inner strength.

Developing efficacy is possible at every age and stage of life. Looking at how things are, current reality, while holding an ideal in your mind causes the energy and ideas you need to gain closure. The discrepancy between here and there is what creates the appetite. The dream or vision creates the appetite or aspiration.

Consider: How do you develop efficacy or causative power in a child? In the early months, you can hang a mobile over the crib the kind that won’t move unless the baby hits it. She thinks, “I caused that movement to happen. What else can I do?” Next, put a little toy just outside her reach, so she has to wiggle to get it. “Ah, I got that. Now, what’s next?

Efficacy is about knowing that you can cause and make things happen for yourself. So you should not only teach first graders how to read and how to write, but also teach them to believe when they come out of the first grade, “I’m smart. I can succeed in the second grade.” That’s the attitude of self-efficacy.

When you set a goal, you naturally appraise your efficacy. You wonder, “Is this too big for me? Or, am I bigger than it?”

You hear people say, “Well, can we afford it? Could I do it? Could I learn it?” Inefficacious appraisals are when you set a goal and then you talk yourself out of it. You tell yourself you can’t do it. You don’t believe you can do it. So you set the aspiration or the goal and then wonder: “Is this bigger than I am? Can I afford it? Can I do it? Can I cause it?”

You’ve got to know the barriers that cause avoidant behavior. You’ve got to get past what I call your “optical illusions,” but you might call your “obstacle illusions.” You create illusionary obstacles, and you won’t let yourself get past them. They become as real as any physical barrier.

Creative Power .

You build your efficacy by building inner power. The more you know you can cause, the more you know you can create.

Now, I’m not talking about taking the place of God. But I am talking about being co-responsible. I believe that we are created in the image and likeness of God. And if God is a creative being, so are you and I. You and I have the creative power to build better communication systems, better highways, better health care.

But you don’t just sit and wait for things to come to you. If you want good things to happen on the outside, make good things happen on the inside. Is the change inside you or outside you? Do you feel like a victim? Do you feel like the world has pounced upon you? Do you feel that you can’t cause anything to happen? Do you have to wait for the right sign? Do you rely on superstition? Do you say, “There’s nothing I can do about it”?

Or, do you feel like “I don’t like where I am, but I’m going to change it. I don’t like the way the company is running, but I’ll fix it. I don’t like my financial setting, but I’ll cause it to be better. I don’t like how my marriage is going, but I’ll repair it.”

I used to be a person who would just sit and gripe about things, saying, “Why don’t they fix it?”

My self-talk would respond, “Why don’t you fix it?”

“They won’t listen to me.”

“So make yourself somebody they’ll listen to or get out.”

As a high school teacher, I wanted to cause the school to leap into greatness. But I wasn’t credible enough to change things. So I just complained and fixed the blame on the outside.

When I finally decided to do something about it, I knew that I first had to fix me. And so Diane and I started a lifetime journey to become better, stronger, more influential. Now we’re not only good, we’re good for something. We can now influence the high school system on a national level. We can influence people worldwide.

So can you. But it’s up to you to change you. As you improve yourself, your life improves. You don’t just wait for circumstances outside to get better. You cause them to get better.

You may have been raised to think that good things happen from the outside. “Grandpa or Grandma makes them happen, or Santa Clause brings them. But surely I don’t cause them myself.”

How were you raised? What is your attitude? What is the attitude of your people? Do you have a victim mind-set, or do you have a causative mind-set?

Please understand, I didn’t always have a causative mind-set. I had to learn how to build my inner strength and change my behavior. As I strengthened my inner self, my efficacy, and my outlook, I strengthened my output. Now I don’t sit and wait; I cause.

Be careful how you speak to people around you about what you or they can or cannot do. You create an impression of your causative power. What you affirm, your subconscious assimilates. It accepts what you tell it. So continually work to develop the efficacy in the people around you, because the tasks and goals you need to accomplish in five years are going to be more than what you’re capable of doing now. You can’t do it with the same efficacy you have now. You must keep developing.

And so when you walk down the street and your child says, “Daddy, can we get a car like that?” you don’t say, “We can’t afford it,” because you’re giving that child the idea that “we’re incapable of doing it.” You say, ”We have a better place for our money now. There’s something else we choose to do. We could take all of our money and sell our house to buy that car, but we choose not to we have other things to do.”

Remember: authentic, progressive, effective. Progressive means constantly developing day by day, constantly improving day by day. It is affirmation at work; it is study at work. It’s constantly working to develop yourself. Why dream bigger? To accomplish more. To cause more results in your world.