It's not on top, it's inside!

Psychological Capital: An easy way to tap into your personal wealth

January 14, 2015 | By Cognadev

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We are so often reliant on external resources in order to be successful in our jobs. We blame the economy, power supply, economic policies and job scarcity for our inability to be promoted or find opportunities to excel. What we don't realise is that we have the capacity to find and develop resources within ourselves through applying optimism, hope, self-efficacy and resilience in our everyday lives. These four concepts combined make up the Psychological Capital of a person.


Optimism means that you believe that things will work out now and in the future and that you are likely to succeed in life or work. The charming movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, famously had the saying, "Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end". Voltaire said that, "Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable". Optimism is the gasoline that fuels the intention to persist until a positive outcome is reached.


Hope is the perseverance towards identified goals and figuring out the way or path in order to reach these goals. To be hopeful is to deal with stumbling blocks, problems and difficulties on the way.


Self-efficacy is the confidence in oneself to perform a certain task and put in the necessary effort to be effective. The famous little train from the children's classic ("I think I can, I think I can") is a good example of how we can basically achieve anything that we put our mind to, however putting the plans into action is not always simple. Self-efficacy therefore influences the way in which we approach goals, tasks and challenges.


Resilience is the ability to recover, bounce back, or even grow, after encountering a problem or setback. Having resilience will mean that you can take problems in your stride and not be set back in your endeavours to succeed. The Japanese poet, Masahide, expressed a resilient outlook as follows,
Barn's burnt down...
Now I can see the moon
If you can identify some of the above in yourself, then you already have some untapped wealth towards success. The good news is that psychological capital is not static and can therefore be easily developed.

People with a strong sense of psychological capital:

  • View tasks as challenges to be mastered
  • Have a positive outlook on life and work
  • Are less prone to burnout, absenteeism, or being disengaged
  • Recover faster from setbacks and disappointments
  • Are overall more committed to their jobs and productive
  • Take accountability and do not blame others or circumstances

So, what are you waiting for?

Follow this practical exercise and start mining the wealth in yourself:

  1. Take a blank piece of paper and a pen.
  2. Write down a goal that you want to achieve in the next year (something concrete and measurable).
  3. Write the sub-goals (in order to reach small wins).
  4. Brainstorm and write down various pathways to reach these goals.
  5. Distinguish between realistic and unrealistic pathways, taking resources into account.
  6. Identify potential obstacles and identify alternative pathways to avoid or overcome obstacles.
  7. Discuss with a partner / friend methods they used to overcome obstacles and reach their goals.

Tada! You have developed your psychological capital!