In every group, there always seems to be a hero. Ya know, the one who rises to the occasion in the face of a challenge, bounces back quickly from setbacks, stays hopeful in the toughest of times and believes they can succeed no matter what? Have you ever wished YOU could be the hero instead of passively sitting back while someone else succeeds at upleveling themselves and your crew? If so, this article is for you!
The reality is that everyone belongs to an organized group of some kind: a school, company, family unit, social circle, religious community, etc. And, the reality is that most groups also tend to hit roadblocks and speed bumps en route to achieving their goals or operating as smoothly as possible. In order to keep up with the times, overcome a challenge, or simply achieve greater harmony, individuals within those groups must evolve and grow in order to full realize their maximum potential. Traditionally, most people rely on three types of capital to achieve a competitive advantage: economic (what you have), human (what you know) or social (who you know) (see Figure 1 below).
Positive Psychological Capital (also known as PsyCap), a recent and extremely valuable extension to the old framework, is theorized as a higher-order construct that is comprised of four underlying constructs:
- Hope: a positive state where your feelings of agency (goal oriented determination) and pathways (proactively planning to achieve those goals) interact.
- Self-Efficacy: confidence in your ability to achieve a specific goal in a specific situation.
- Resilience: successfully coping with adversity or stress. In organizational settings, it is characterized as the ability to “bounce back” from high workload, conflict, failure, and ongoing organizational change.
- Optimism: a realistically positive view of what one can or cannot do.
PsyCap is considered “higher-order” because it’s not simply made up of the four H.E.R.O building blocks, because when taken all together, these constructs create a new entity that is greater than the sum of its parts. Specifically, these capacities were chosen because they are 1) measurable, 2) open to development and 3) can be managed for more effective work performance (Luthans et al., 2004).
Ok… but why is this important?! Unlike trait-like concepts such as general intelligence, PsyCap can be developed by deliberate practice—and in a rather short amount of time! Furthermore, a recent study found PsyCap to be associated with a variety of positive outcomes including greater psychological wellbeing, greater engagement, more organizational commitment and improved personal performance. Lastly, a significant negative association was found between PsyCap and undesirable qualities like cynicism, stress, anxiety and acting out behaviors.
SO. If you want to take your PsyCap (H.E.R.O.) quotient to the next level, try these quick and easy strategies for cultivating each of the four underlying constructs:
Hope Reminding: Take some time to journal about a time when you felt hopeless but managed to overcome and rise above. Describe the thoughts that inspired you to take action and persist in the face of a challenge. Keep these notes close by and refer to them the next time you need a hopeful boost!
Self-Efficacy: Tackle a goal you’ve been putting off. Create small, realistic action steps that build toward achieving your desired outcome. Don’t forget to put some accountability in place by sharing your plan with a trusted confidant who can help keep you on track!
Resilience: Pay attention to your internal monologue and identify any detrimental patterns in thinking. Jumping to conclusions, tunnel vision, personalizing, and mind reading are all examples of common thinking traps. By becoming more self-aware, you will be better able to catch yourself when your thinking is irrational and successfully bounce back from challenges.
Optimism: Re-frame challenges by asking yourself questions that will cultivate a flexible mindset. For example:
- What are the opportunities for learning and growth today? For myself? For the people around me?
- When, where and how will I take advantage of these opportunities? Be specific.
- How will I handle inevitable setbacks and obstacles?
- What do I need to do in order to continue my personal growth? Who can help me? What resources do I need to tap?