Tangible and Intangible Results as it relates to Self Efficacy
This explores tangible and intangible results as it relates to self efficacy, guiding parents with new tools to empower their children!
It’s important that parents are not only teaching their kids about the differences between tangible and intangible results in terms of actually producing those results! But it is equally important for parents to learn how to focus on both types of results and highlight them both equally as a means of being supportive to their children, particularly in the realm of contributing to your their child’s development of self efficacy.
But before we can move forward, with this discussion, we must understand the various facets that self efficacy deals with. Self efficacy explores four concepts. These are…
I will be illustrating each of these concepts through a particular experience of my own accord. One of my childhood dreams was to be a stand up comedian! I employed Self Efficacy as a tool very precisely to aid me in growing towards making that dream a reality!
Before I even THOUGHT of taking the plunge at open mic night in front a room full of 300 strangers and a giant spotlight on me, I wanted to create a rehearsal that I could feel the aspect of Performance Accomplishment in my bones and call upon this previous experience when the nerves started to creep in. So I invited a number of friends to a recording studio for a night of comedy! We got couches, veggie trays, a few cheese plates and some wine. I lit some candles and really went the extra mile to “set the stage” with a spot light and even some pictures of my parents to really make me feel like “I was there!” I had linked up nine different skits together with seamless transitions to do what ended up being a one hour long set! So by the time I got to open mic night, I knew that I only had to be up there for three minutes. And I could refer back to my “Performance Accomplishment” of one hour as a tool of confidence to tell myself…”Dude, you went for a whole hour in front of your friends! You can go three minutes EASY!” (Notice the importance here of having an intimate relationship with my positive internal dialogue!) Relying on this previous accomplishment made moving through the hair-rasing task of being on stage a breeze!
Next, I wanted to employ Vicarious Experiences into pushing me further to accomplishing my dream. So I went to five open mic nights in a row. Each night, I took notes on every single comic there. I studied their body language, their posture, their inflection in their voices, how much they paced, if and when and how often they put the microphone down to pause in between crowd reactions and jokes, and most importantly, listened with eyes closed to various levels of amplitude from the audiences response or lack thereof. I was able to “live vicariously” through watching other comics blow the roof off the building as well as some that just decided to stop mid-syllable because their stage fright and complete “crickets” response from the audience literally ate them alive! This was just the thing I needed to really push my own positive internal dialogue pedal to the floor and hear myself saying…”Dude, if THAT person thought they were funny and the AUDIENCE actually thought they were funny…you’re golden!” You see what’s happening here don’t you?
On deck, we now have the all encouraging “verbal persuasion.” This is exactly what you think it is! This is all the people that convince the droves of their friends to go audition for American Idol when they can’t hardly sing in the shower! But because their friends are giving them “the push” of “YOU CAN DO IT! GO FOR IT!”, aka, verbal persuasion, we then get the pleasure of watching the first four weeks of episodes of people that sound like a their caught in a mouse trap when they try to sing. I was no different. I didn’t know if I would be funny, but I had enough people “verbally persuade” me to go try it that I thought it might be worth a shot.
Finally, we explore emotional and or physiological states! This is simply the focusing in on awareness of the various emotions and or physiological states we all experience when we’re learning a process, practicing a new skill and or approaching and moving through something scary. In my case, I learned during my studio trial run that there were a variety of emotions that manifested themselves in various physiological states. For the sake of time, I will only be addressing one example here in this article. I learned very quickly that even though I knew I was in an “emotionally safe space with friends and free of hecklers”, I still experienced the emotional state of nervousness which manifested itself physiologically as sweaty and slightly shaky palms in the beginning. I then knew to pay attention to this when it was showtime! But this time, it was magnified! So much so in fact that as I began to move into my routine, my hand started to tremble almost uncontrollably. I quickly realized that my nervousness was causing the microphone to shake damn near out of my hand! So I grasped the mic with two hands with the fierce grasp of a baby koala bear grasping a baby bottle with absolutely no intention of letting it go. The lesson here is to teach our kids how to pay attention to and learn to identify their emotions in a given situation and any physiological states that may follow.
Now that we’ve covered the different aspects of self efficacy with various examples, lets return to our dissection of tangible versus intangible outcomes and look closely how important it is for us as parents to be aware of teaching both kinds of results to our kids as well learning how to highlight both in our approach to helping them grow their self efficacy.
When we examine the differences between tangible and intangible results, we start to get into some pretty obvious differentiations in how each kind can manifest. As we explore further into some of these definitions, I realize there is a great deal of room ambiguity and or openess for interpretation. It is not my position, desire nor the purpose of this article to pick apart, engage in debate over and or “defend to the death” any of the semantic details on the matters at hand. Rather, my position (and my hope), is to educate and encourage an “outside the box” approach to thinking about how we explore these concepts and foster a foundation for flexible thinking processes that might hopefully employ and nurture an environment ripe for the exploration of one’s own biases in a plasmatic manner such that the reader may come away with perhaps at the very least, a new perspective that among other desired outcomes, empowers them to engage in the rational discussion of these concepts with their children so that they might feel more effective in their parenting approaches towards educating, conversing with and ultimately, supercharging their offspring to better understand, articulate, and exercise their own power of choice as well as the quality and classification of outcomes based on the results of the very agency with which their choices were originally made.
First, we shall explore what makes a tangible result precisely that. Among other qualities associated with this kind of result, it is an outcome that arises from a physical action item or items that took place. For example, filling out a job application, depending on the format, is very much a tangible result. You either had to physically drive or walk to the establishment and fill out a paper application, hand it in to the appropriate person, and or in some cases, maybe even engage in an “on the spot” interview! This is absolutely a tangible result! Or perhaps, you filled out a digital application. This is also a tangible result in that it required someone to effectively turn on a computer, log into a user account, log onto the internet, go the appropriate website, navigate a series of tabs to get the application and begin the tedious process of filling in information in the appropriate advocated boxes or areas and may have even included the uploading of a cover letter and or a CV or resume, another tedious process to do correctly and may have even required professional assistance to obtain. However the process unfolded, this is a tangible outcome or tangible result!
Next, let us explore intangible results. This is where “things get murky and if you at any point in the reading of this article, you find yourself getting “bent out of shape” in desiring to debate the matter, I would highly encourage you to grab a glass of wine, a bowl of ice cream, a pop-tart or whatever your vice of choice is and have an evening reflection and debate with yourself. This is simply a suggestion. But you are no under obligation to act upon said suggestion.
For many of our parents out there, they simply do not see nor know how to focus on intangible outcomes, results, action items, and or manifestations. This is a problem that I see over and over in my family coaching sessions and is perhaps the single most effective shift a parent can make to empower their child and bring the effectiveness of the guidance associated with parenting to a new level with a variety of benefits. An intangible result, in the humble opinion of this author and coach is simple one in which the outcome is associated in an area of growth that cannot be tangibly “touched” and or that does not produce a tangible product. And I would argue that learning to focus on highlighting these results as a primary lens of thought and approach to parenting is not only one of the most powerful skills a parent can develop but is absolutely one of the most difficult to master. Lets take a look at some examples shall we?
Among other concepts on the list…
The lowering of and coming to grips with social anxiety.
The developing of confidence to go into a job interview and land the job.
The acquiring and exercising of the courage to ask someone out on a date.
In other words, these are the softer skills in life, the skills that are not addressed in school and are often overlooked until a child reaches adulthood only to realize, much to their horror, that they’ve never been shown how to look within and explore all the ways in which it would behoove them to have examined and developed the softer skillsets that would have otherwise prevented a variety of unhealthy positions we all carry around about ourselves at one time or another in our fragile lives.
I will now illustrate how “intangible results” and “tangible results” contain within them a symbiotic relationship and argue that if perhaps we were in need to focus on one over the other, that it is the softer “intangible results” that have embedded within them, a power to transform our lives not only by magnifying the quality of our tangible results, but also cross pollinate with much wider reaching ferver this magnification process. We will then explore evidence for my argument through the examination of both tangible and intangible results through the powerful lens of self efficacy.
First, we will explore how the acquisition of tangible results can in fact contribute to increased quality and quantity of the softer intangible results. For example, if a child is enrolled in tennis lessons and is learning the tangible skillset of “hitting the ball over the net without hitting the ball over the fence,” once this skillset is mastered, the child can now begin to use this newly acquired tangible result as a tool to deepen and or intensify his self confidence in the ability to master a new skill. In other words, the child then thinks to themselves, “I just learned how to master this new task. Well would you look at that, I feel more confident! I can now apply this newfound confidence to learning a new skillset with a hunger and a confidence that I now know I possess and is evidenced by my ability to have learned the previous skillset.” I recognize, of course, that most children aren’t going to think logically through these kinds of processes or have this detailed level of internal dialogue. We know this. However, this kind of process absolutely happens on a subconscious level.
Now in this particular case, I’m making the argument that it is through this simple acquisition of new tangible results that an automatic enrichment process takes place, that being the growth of a intangible result. In this instance, we are referring to the increased confidence to work with whereupon the next opportunity to learn a new tangible skillset presents itself. That’s a beautiful transaction that takes place and is automatically embedded into the very construct of the skillset acquisition process. For example, when a baby hawk first leaves the nest and realizes it can fly for the first time, it begins to develop the confidence to then learn to hunt. This isn’t something that a mother hawk has to teach its chick. The instinct to hunt is already embedded into their DNA. And part of that process is the increase in confidence that takes place after the tangible result or skillset is realized. Our children are no different in this regard. You learn a skill and thereby acquire an increased confidence to go onto building a new skill or producing the next tangible result in the future.
We just examined how the acquisition of how a new tangible result can contribute to the growth of intangible results. Now lets take a look at the symbiotic relationship using intangible results as a starting point and the powerful ability of the intangible result to magnify the tangible results.
In our previous illustration, we saw how a child learning a tangible skill and or producing a tangible result led to the intangible result of increased confidence in themselves that they could then go and apply to future tangible results. Now lets reverse this process, turning it on its head. In this case, we’ll use the intangible result of increasing one’s awareness of social anxiety as an illustrative tool to examine the premise being discussed and the argument being made.
If a child is working towards achieving the intangible result of lowering, gaining more awareness around and or intentionally placing themselves in and being present with the presence of social anxiety in a specific social situation, they are taking the steps to work on transforming their relationship to and interaction with however this social anxiety might typically manifest itself. While this particular example could be classified in a similar category of tangible actions by the very nature of taking one’s self to said social situation, our focus here is to illustrate the budding intangible result that is most likely taking place given the circumstances that the child has put themselves in. With that said, how often do we see our children come home from a social event or situation before which they left the house with the feeling of and oftentimes complaining about the insuing social anxiety that so often escorts the fragile time leading up to the decision to attend a social event (also known as the proverbial butterflies in their stomach), only to return with a beaming look of excitement on their face and an almost tangible (no pun intended), sense of pride, accomplishment, glee and newfound confidence? For they now know that the next time they might find themselves twitterpated in anticipation of the otherwise social anxiety inducing social opportunity upon the horizon, they can surely see to it that this event be met with a command of inner emotions, a beautifully newly acquired intangible result of awareness around and exercising of “SOCIAL CONFIDENCE” going into that horizon-ical social opportunity! This is just such a beautiful exchange of emotional lenses being switched moving forward, also known as the paradigm shift taking place! And it provides as a parents an opportunity to highlight this intangible result (the growth of their self confidence)! Now, not only has the child acquired the new intangible result of “more social confidence and less social anxiety,” but they now will be much more likely use this new intangible result as a tool for making the next social event a success! INCREDIBLE!
So we see here that if we are to pick either the tangible or the intangible results to focus on, it would be in our best interest as parents that desire to empower our children, to spend more time illustrating, praising and otherwise nurturing their intangible results.
I shall conclude this article exploring one of the four facets of self efficacy, illustrating the benefits of highlighting both style of results, and serving as evidence of the author’s position and illustrating my own professional recommendation of focusing more on praising intangible results more than tangible.
Looking at performance accomplishments, this is an incredibly easy tool to incorporate into helping to empower your kids! It really is this simple. Highlight any tangible or intangible result of accomplishment in which your child had to “perform” to generate a specific outcome!
Tangible Result Example: Lets say Linda has a project to do for school and she’s currently incredibly stressed and or anxious about the assignment. Linda’s mother might say something like…“Linda, do you remember how stressed you were when you had to turn in that large school paper? You diligently worked daily on that assignment and turned it in after several drafts of effort and you got an outstanding grade on it! You can put in the same kind of effort into this project and you will do great!”
In this illustration, the parent is referencing the tangible outcome of a previous project in an effort to deliver confidence to Linda that she can use to tackle her latest task ahead of her. And while valuable to help build Linda’s confidence in herself, it is clearly absent of any broader cross pollination that could take place for other aspects of Linda’s self efficacy.
Intangible Result Example: “I know you’re nervous about meeting this new boy that you’re interested in. But just think about the presentation you gave last semester! You developed so much confidence in presenting yourself to a new audience. This is no different! Just put yourself in that confident place when you go to meet this new date and you won’t be nearly as nervous. AND…just think about how much more confident you’ll be when you go to college next year and engage in making new friends. The confidence you develop from this date can be carried over into confidence in making friends!”
Here, the parent is illustrating the intangible performance accomplishment result that was created on the back end of giving a presentation and helping Linda use this intangible confidence as a tool to use going into an otherwise nervous situation with more confidence. But then she takes it a step further. Not only does the original intangible result serve as a catalyst for greater confidence, thereby increasing the quality of tangible result (going on the date), but now the same intangible result of increased confidence can be used to ensure tangible successes in future endeavors, such as making new friends.
So the next time you think about praising your child for the tangible results of getting a job, don’t forget to praise them for and highlight the intangible result of working on their self confidence that they used to get the job in the first place! They will remember that you recognized this in them far more than they will ever remember you praising them for “getting the job!” And they will most certainly apply the intangible result of increasing their confidence to future situations far more than they would have the tangible result of landing the job to other challenges they may encounter in life!