top of page

Mastery experiences

Experiences deliver growth • 3 min read

Psychologist Albert Bandura’s research found that individuals with high levels of self-belief were better able to think creatively and persevere under pressure and stress.

His studies also found that those people who had more confidence were better able to source new business opportunities and create new products.



Let’s remind ourselves of what it takes to have confidence in our own abilities and judgements.

The 4 sources to draw on for self-belief are:

  1. Mastery experiences

  2. Physiological states

  3. Social modelling

  4. Social persuasion

In this post, we’ll delve a little deeper into the source that many psychologists believe is the most important to fuel our confidence to succeed.

Ready to find out which one?

Mastery experiences

You guessed it!

There is nothing more powerful than seeing the fruits of our labour. When we are able to overcome obstacles and persevere through challenges to hit a goal, our self-belief battery becomes fully charged.

We learn new things about ourselves. We pick up new skills. We become more resilient. We then draw on these experiences when taking on the next challenge.

Once we have done something enough times, our brains begin to understand that perseverance and hard work will achieve the results we are looking for. For that to happen, we need to find the right balance between taking on something that is ‘too easy’ or ‘too hard’.

Comfort zone

“It’s cozy here, isn’t it?”

“Hey, get your feet off the table!”

One of the key ways to draw on experiences as a source of self-belief is by taking on tasks and challenges that are just outside of our comfort zone. If we achieve constant success with little effort, we can easily lose confidence when we come up against an obstacle or experience failure.


Experiencing failure is vital for building our resilience but if we continually set the bar too high or take on tasks that are constantly too difficult, it will gradually deplete our self-belief battery. We become deflated by our failure to meet our high expectations.

Mastery experiences in practice

Mila wants to develop her self-belief when it comes to finding her voice amongst a busy team. Her aim is to become more visible in order to be considered for future promotion opportunities.

Comfort zone

She is not keen on rocking the boat. Her comfort zone is to sit quietly in meetings. Mila has lots of ideas for the company and can spot lots of potential barriers, but her existing patterns of behaviour make it very difficult for her to find her voice amongst her more extroverted colleagues.

Begin with a small win

Mila begins by articulating her ideas when the meeting facilitator opens the floor to feedback as this is a safe gateway into developing the capability.

Turn up the dial

Mila’s contributions in meetings are landing well with the team. As a result, she perseveres and starts to lead some of the conversations.


Key takeaways

  1. Psychologists consider mastery experiences as the most effective way to build our self belief.

  2. When exposing ourselves to experiences, it’s important to find the right balance between tasks that are ‘too easy’ and tasks that are ‘too hard’.

  3. Target a small win in the area that you are looking to build confidence in.


Think big. act small

If you are lacking self-belief in a certain area, begin by targeting a small win to help you get started.


Content sources

  • Forbes, 4 Ways To Find Your Voice At Work, Jennifer Reimert

  • Forbes, How To Build Your Confidence And Conquer Self-Doubt, Paula Davis

  • Forbes, Is A Lack Of Self Confidence Holding You Back?, Aimee Sanchez

  • Frontiers, How Does Entrepreneurial Self-Efficacy Influence Innovation Behavior? Exploring the Mechanism of Job Satisfaction and Zhongyong Thinking, Jiangru Wei, Yuting Chen, Yamin Zhang, and Jing Zhang

  • University of Kentucky, Cultivate Self-efficacy for Personal and Organisational Effectiveness, Albert Bandura

  • PositivePsychology, What Is Self-Efficacy? Bandura’s 4 Sources of Efficacy Beliefs, Miriam Akhtar

  • Psychology Today, Self-Efficacy and Success, Hope Periman

  • SimplyPsychology, Self-Efficacy Theory, Gabriel Lopez-Garrido

Related Posts

See All


bottom of page