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What Are Positive Core Self-Evaluations and How Can they Help You Succeed and Make More Money, Too

What Are Positive Core Self-Evaluations and How Can they Help You Succeed and Make More Money, Too
Hi there. Today we’re going to talk about the power of having a set of beliefs, that researchers call Positive Core Self Evaluations. Let’s begin by talking about what we mean by core self evaluations. Because you have them, I have them, and everyone else has them. And they’re quietly but powerfully affecting our decisions every day, for better and for worse. We usually don’t think much about how our unconscious beliefs affect our abilities to achieve our goals. But researchers around the world think about this a lot. And some of these researchers found that each of us evaluates ourselves in four specific areas. The first is our Self Esteem, and this refers to our beliefs about our overall worth as a person.
Now self esteem refers to how we think about ourselves in general, which is not the same as how we describe ourselves in specific areas. For example, thinking, I’m an introvert or an extrovert or at specific times. For example, thinking today I’m feeling pretty good about myself. Researchers would assess your self esteem with survey questions such as, overall I am satisfied with myself. We also evaluate ourselves, remember, consciously or unconsciously, in an area that researchers call Self Efficacy. This refers to our beliefs about our abilities to complete our tasks and achieve our goals. Researchers would assess your self efficacy with a simple survey questions such as, I complete tasks successfully.
A third way we evaluate ourselves is through our beliefs about what researchers call our Locus of Control. This refers to how much we believe our efforts, rather than fate, luck, or other external influences can have an impact on ourselves, others, and life outcomes. A survey question to assess your locus of control, would be something like, I determine what will happen in my life. Emotional Stability refers to our beliefs about the degree to which we can effectively cope with the ups and downs of everyday life. A survey question to assess your emotional stability would be something like, I’m capable of coping with most of my problems.
Keep in mind that core self evaluations refer to our general and fundamental assumptions about ourselves. And our abilities to achieve our goals, not our assessment of ourselves and our abilities in any specific situation, such as performing well in a particular test or giving a good presentations, or a specific domain. Such as in our specific role as a student, an engineer, a teacher, an artist, or a parent.
People who have high core self evaluations think positively about themselves. They have confidence in their abilities. And they feel like they have some control over their environment. They tend to see the world around them in a generally optimistic way. Now this matters because life is full of complex situations that have both positive and negative aspects to them. For example, personal relationships and work relationships can be both exhilarating and nerve racking. Our jobs have times that are engaging and times that are boring or extremely stressful. Here is an example, as you know working in teams often brings more diverse information and ideas to the table which can lead to better decisions and more successful implementation of decisions.
Yet working in teams also requires suppressing your self interest in the service of the group. Working with people who are different than you in important ways. And making decisions that are different than those you might make on your own. Because people with high core self evaluations are more likely to emphasize the positive aspects of working in teams, they’re more likely to approach team tasks enthusiastically and as a consequence reap the awards associated with teamwork.
In contrast, people who have low core self evaluations think less positively about themselves, they have less confidence in their abilities, and they believe they have little control over what happens to them. They are more likely to focus on the negative when assessing the environment around them. As a result, they’re likely to experience more stress and anxiety in these situations. When working in teams, for example, they may be more likely to focus on the challenges of working in teams. The fact that they may have to agree to support team decisions that they don’t completely agree with, or that the team may take longer to make decisions than the individual can make on one’s own.
Or that the delegation of the team’s work may not be exactly 100% equal and fair. Or that everyone on the team may not be equally competent. Because people with low core self evaluations are likely to focus on the potential costs of working in teams rather than the potential benefits, they may be more hesitant to join teams and less likely to engage productively when they’re in team situations. As poet John Milton said over 350 years ago, the mind is a place of its own, and in itself can make a heaven out of hell and a hell out of heaven.
In a review of 149 studies about the impact of core self evaluations, researcher Daisy Chong and her colleagues concluded that people with high core self evaluations tend to have higher work motivation and take on more challenging tasks and are even more satisfied when their work involves complex tasks. They tend to go above and beyond the call of duty more frequently. They persist longer to achieve desired outcomes. And they react more constructively to change. They tend to work more positively with others, and they experience less stress and burnout at work. Consequently, they are more likely to be satisfied with their life in general.
They’re more likely to contribute to their communities and they’re more likely to feel less conflict between their roles at work and outside of work. They’re also more likely to enjoy their work itself, perform better at their work, and get evaluated more positively by their bosses. They are also likely to make more money. Researchers Timothy Judge and Charlise Hurst conducted a study in which they assessed the core self evaluations of over 12,000 teenagers and young adults between the ages of 14 and 22 years old. The researchers then looked at whether having a high or low core self evaluation at a young age was associated with salary at mid life. And this would be in the late 30s, early 40s.
The researchers found that those who had high core self evaluations at a younger age were making significantly more income at midlife, than those who begun the study with low core self evaluations.
The researchers also wanted to know whether advantages such as having a privileged background as measured by family income, parental education and the prestige of the parents’ jobs and strong academic performance, as measured by the study participants’ grade point average in their youth, also had an impact on income later in life. They found that the more advantages the participants with high core self evaluations had when they started the study, the greater their salary increased over the years. Specifically, the participants who had privileged upbringings, as well as high core self evaluations, on average were making over $35,000 more each year.
Study participants who had the highest level of academic achievement, as well as high core self evaluations, were making on average over $50,000 more per year. And here’s what’s even more interesting. The income of the people with the lowest core self evaluations barely changed at all throughout their careers. Despite the family advantages and academic achievements early in life. And in some cases decreased as time went on. In fact their salaries at mid life on average were lower than those who didn’t have privileged backgrounds or strong academic achievement, but who had high core self evaluations when they were younger. Clearly our beliefs about ourselves matter.
Now researchers believe that the difference in midlife income between people with high and low core self evaluations is due in large part to the degree in which they capitalize on opportunities. They believe that people with high core self evaluations are more likely to see opportunities that others miss. And they are more likely to proactively act on these opportunities. Consequently, people with high core self evaluations tend to get themselves on a positive spiral in which the rewards multiply over the years. In contrast, people with low core self evaluations may get themselves on a negative spiral throughout the years, which ends up being reflected in their job options and their income.
The research on core self evaluations give us some insight into why some people who seem to have everything going for them early in life, such as a privileged background and high grades never reached their potential. It also gives us some insight into why some people who don’t have these early advantages can succeed despite obstacles. For all the power that our beliefs have and our ability to achieve our goals in life, most of us are remarkably unaware of our fundamental belief systems and how they affect our every day choices. But not you any more, because you’re taking this course and maybe even reading the companion book about the science of success.
Our beliefs influence how high we set our goals and the strategies we use to achieve those goals. Our beliefs influence our levels of effort, persistence and resilience. They influence whether we capitalize on opportunities, or stand on the sidelines and watch opportunities pass us by. They influence how we raise our children. How we interact with our loved ones at home. How we handle our jobs, and how we manage our careers. In order to use the knowledge from the research on the power of beliefs wisely, rather than naively, it’s important to keep the following caveats in mind. First, the growth mind set and high core self evaluations, like anything else can be a problem if taken too far.
If you are too sure of your abilities, you can overestimate your current abilities and underestimate the time you need to finish a job well. And then you may not be able to finish what you start with high quality or on time. If you have too high a sense of control over your life, it may be hard for you to find peace when you confront something that you can’t change or fix. Sometimes, as the Buddhists say, you just have to let it go. If your self esteem is untempered by critical self reflection and empathy toward others, it can turn into narcissistic tendencies.
In fact researchers Adam Grant of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and Amy Wisniewski at the School of Management at Yale. Found that people have high core self evaluations who are also other oriented and who had a sense of duty were more likely to achieve better work results. Another caveat to remember is that it’s naive to assume that anyone can do anything if they just have a growth mind set, believe in themselves and try hard enough. Some people need more support than others and they’re more likely to thrive when given this extra support.
For example, first generation college students may need more support in learning how to navigate the college environment, so they can strategize how they can best channel their efforts and not loose out on opportunities that they’re not even aware of. People who don’t have access to transportation or quality daycare may have a harder time navigating the professional world despite their best efforts. And people with illnesses and disabilities, including disabilities that aren’t visible to others may face additional hurdles that make it more challenging to achieve their goals without additional support. The main point you should take away from learning about the growth mindset and positive core self evaluations is that your beliefs powerfully affect your future.
And you can shape your beliefs in ways that can help you achieve success, regardless of where you start out in life. Your beliefs will significantly influence where you end up in life. People who achieve their goals know that people aren’t born successful, they become successful.
Now that you’ve learned about the power of beliefs, we’ll turn to another factor that predicts your success. Your ability to develop an expertise that’s meaningful to you and that matters to others. Developing this expertise won’t be easy as you will see, but it will be worth it. I’ll see you again soon and in the meantime, take care.
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