Saturday Morning Rounds October 12, 2019 - Self-efficacy

Posted by BossB, MD on October 12, 2019
BossB, MD

Saturday Morning Rounds
A weekly round-up of everything that captured our attention over the last 7 days
What we're reading
An interesting study just published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior found that:
"when participants spent longer than normal doing their leisure activity, their belief in their ability to perform their job increased. But this was only the case when they had a serious hobby that was dissimilar to their job, or when their hobby was similar to their work but they only did it casually. When their hobby was both serious and similar to their job, then spending more time on it actually had a detrimental effect, decreasing their self-efficacy."

What's the mechanism driving this finding? Well, the authors speculate that:

"To maintain a serious hobby, people need to invest significant psychological resources... so if the activity has the same kinds of demands as their work, they may be left drained and unable to perform as well at their job. But if their hobby is quite different from their career, it may not interfere in the same way but instead help them develop other knowledge and skills that can boost their confidence at work."

The underlying construct that the authors studied was "self-efficacy," or one's belief in one's abilities to achieve an outcome. In this case, they specifically measured professional self-efficacy. Research shows that self-efficacy is one of the most protective and productive psychological strengths one can invest in, and we'll dig more into how you can increase it in our "Tip of the week" section.

As with most research, there are limits to the findings and more questions to be asked afterward than are answered by this one study itself, but the lifestyle design nerds in us couldn't help thinking about all the different ways you might apply these findings to your time investments.

So if you're a procedural doc who spends her spare time knitting or working on your onion-chopping speed a-la-Julia Child (great film - I mean can you ask for anything more in this world than Meryl Streep playing Julia Child?), you might consider branching out.

Who we're following

Humans are amazing, and while it's not exactly women in medicine related, this week's who we're following has its roots in a medical paper! In 1991 a physician named Michael Joyner wrote a now-infamous paper in which he calculated that the fastest possible marathon for the perfect athlete in optimal conditions was 1:57:58.

Ever since then, runners have been trying to break the sport's "Last Great Barrier" (first was the sub-4min-mile, then the sub-10sec-100m) - a 2hr marathon. And it is SO COOL that someone just did. His name is Eliud Kipchoge (@EliudKipchoge) and to put his performance in perspective, he just ran 26.2 miles at a sub-4:34/mile pace (ie over 13mph).

BBMD tip of the week

We've talked about the concept of "Flow" in this newsletter before, and the best way to increase self-efficacy is to enter a flow state as often as possible. How does one do so and why does it work to increase self-efficacy? Well, flow states rely upon one entering the edge of one's abilities - the sweet spot between skill and challenge, as shown in this graphic: 

When we enter this state, we actually leave "ourselves" - in the sense that our capacities our so fully taxed that we don't have mental space to maintain awareness of an "I" and a "me" at the same time - and then come back after the act having achieved something more complex than we knew we were capable of. This new knowledge must be assimilated back into our self-concept, and that's what increases our sense of self-efficacy. Here's a great book on the topic if you'd like to learn more.

Quote we're contemplating

"the self expands through acts of self forgetfulness.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


As always, please let us know your requests and suggestions on Twitter. Which section above is your favorite? What do you want more or less of? Just send a tweet to @BossB_MD and put #SaturdayMorningRounds in there so we can find it.

Have a wonderful weekend, y'all!