This post is sort of, kind of a book review of Hillary Clinton's book; What Happened.
So, it all started with me thinking about what self-efficacy means. Not just on the surface, but what it really means and how it relates to success. I stumbled on this research paper which digs deep into what self-efficacy means and how it impacts people’s ability to succeed in ventures they set out to achieve. Coincidentally my husband and I decided to readHillary Clinton’s new book, What Happened.
What I discovered after reading, and a couple of isolated hours thinking deeply about the relationship between self-efficacy and this book, is the reason why I was forced — in the middle of reading the book — to put finger to keyboard and write these words.
You Need Self-Efficacy to Succeed
In plain terms, this means one’s belief in themselves to be successful in whatever they set out to do. According to this study, self-efficacy is critical to success because simply put, if you don’t believe you can do it, you likely won’t because your subconscious already anticipates failure and will chart the course right to it through your conscious action. And in this very report, something struck me.
Self-efficacy as a trait is defined by a couple of factors. For example, a history of achieving success through delayed gratification and a process of toil and hardship teaches people the skills of perseverance necessary, and optimism typically required, for success.
The trait which caught my attention as it relates to self-efficacy was the fact that for one to believe they can do something, they need to see someone who is just like them (appearance and other nuances) achieve that which they hope to achieve. This makes sense; seeing someone else like you doing something you want to do gives you the hope and the simple subconscious nudge of hey, see her, she is just like you, she did it, you can do it too.
for one to believe they can do something, they sometimes need to see someone who is like them (appearance and other nuances) achieve that which they hope to achieve
This was where I made the connection. Hillary clearly didn’t lack the first requirement to self-efficacy which was the belief that you can do it. In fact, from the words of her book she was confident she would win. She knew in her gut she could, so this wasn’t a problem. It was clear that Trump’s win was a shock to her (and the world) and this shows quite clearly that there was very little room in her mind for the consideration that she may lose because she was confident she could do this and in terms of self-efficacy, Hillary wasn’t lacking in that regard.
There Was No Precedent for Hillary (at least in the US)
However, what was amazing to me as I read the words of her book is how after the defeat, Hillary took solace in the stories and tales of presidential candidates who had lost elections. Through her words I can imagine she felt they know what I’m feeling, they understand.
I can imagine that losing an election is not an easy thing to deal with especially with the stakes Hillary had to deal with. What was interesting however is that she had not a single female past presidential candidate who had failed like her to learn from, to empathize with, to mourn with.
I imagine that losing an election is fundamentally the same for a man and a woman, but what is noteworthy is that the stakes were higher for Hillary Clinton. She was the first female nominee by a major party and the first real female candidate to run for president of the United States — "the greatest country in the world" and "the most advanced civilization".
This meant more than a presidency, it was the fight for a precedent, for reference, for a data point to boost the self-efficacy of millions of women born and unborn so that one day, they could look at Hillary, a woman, and for that very reason believe in their hearts that they too could be president someday.
It was at this point I felt such great sadness. I could only imagine what Hillary felt, how disappointed she felt in herself (coupled with the impostor syndrome), how hard she must have been on herself, imagining the countless women alive and unborn she had let down, and all this, while having NO precedent herself, no other female presidential aspirant to ask, how did you do this? How did you deal with the defeat especially as a woman, knowing the responsibility for other women? This saddened me.
There is now a precedent for millions of women in the United States
Then it dawned on me. The work is done. There is no need for sadness. Because of Hillary Clinton, and her strength, vigour, grace, and tenacity, women have a reference point for a female presidential nominee who ran. That is one huge leap because without running, you cannot become president and running for president is the first real step.
You did it Hillary. You did it. What has happened is, you were in the race; now you can transfer the baton to someone else (if you want). Without you — without your strength, without you running for president of the United States and being a major candidate — there would be less one point of reference for someone who at least ran, for the millions of potential presidents who need reference points to know that they can do it; to build their self-efficacy. For that, we are grateful.
Thank you to women all around the world, leading countries and helping the self-efficacy of women you'll never meet. Thank you!