- When you push yourself outside of your comfort zone, you grow in confidence.
- We can build our people’s confidence in multiple ways.
- Build a relationship of trust with them.
- Give them the knowledge and time to practice the skills we want them to try.
- Acknowledge when they try things.
- Let our confidence in our people carry them until they have the confidence they need.
One year ago, I first blogged about my son leaving for summer camp. In my blog I reflected about whether or not I prepared him enough for camp. Summer camp last year was a success—he had a great time and grew so much!
Now, it’s time for camp again. He was able to plan and prepare this year and didn’t need help from me. I loved seeing how much he grew and matured. Camp didn’t require a swim test last year. This year however there was a requirement to pass a swim test to participate in two of the merit badges he wanted to complete.
Preparing for the Swim Test
My son was a very strong swimmer but hasn’t swam a lot in the last two and a half years. Last year he attempted the swimming test in a lake and he failed. He didn’t have a lot of experience jumping into a lake. He did most of his swimming in pools. I wanted to make sure he would pass his swim test at camp this year. I wanted him to have every option at camp. He was not confident in his swimming abilities, but I knew he was capable of passing the test.
A few months ago we started preparing him for the swimming test. He had to jump in a pool over his head and swim 4 lengths of the pool—three using a front crawl and one length doing a back stroke. He was concerned about jumping in over his head. So we went to a pool that was deep enough to practice. Over the last couple of months, we went to the pool around eight times each month to practice. I tried to coach him to overcome his concerns/worries.
I was getting more and more frustrated because I knew he could do it and felt his worry was unwarranted. I realized I didn’t have to coach his ability, I had to coach his perspective—his confidence. He practiced different components of the test each time. Each time we went, he did a little more and got a little more confident. The Thursday before he left for camp we went to the pool and he completed the requirements for the swim test. I could see the confidence grow in him. He is at camp so I don’t know if he passed the test or not. I really hope he did. But if he doesn’t pass, it will be ok. It becomes a learning opportunity.We need to remember that anytime someone has to do something, they are taking a risk. Click To Tweet
Building Ability & Confidence
I needed to help my son perform a task. The challenge I had was to figure out if his ability or his confidence was holding him back. I had to figure out how to help him perform the needed task. I broke the task into different parts and had him practice each part in an effort to build his confidence. My hope was that as he completed each part he would build his confidence and would be able to go to camp and pass the test.
I reflected on this experience and leadership. How often does people’s confidence affect how they perform? What role can/do I have in their confidence?[scroll down to keep reading]
As leaders, we have to give our people the skills needed to perform their tasks. However, more importantly, we need to make sure they have the confidence needed to perform the task. We need to remember that anytime someone has to do something, they are taking a risk. And anytime someone takes a risk they need then need the confidence to take the risk. As leaders, we need to both build our people’s skills and their confidence.
We can build our people’s confidence in multiple ways. First, we need to build a relationship of trust with them. We need them to trust that we are trying to help grow them and not evaluate them. Next, we need to give them the knowledge and time to practice the skills we want them to try. Our people need to feel like they have been been given the opportunity to build their skills before they need to perform. Finally, we need to acknowledge when they try things. We need to encourage them throughout their process and continue to show them they have our support. Sometimes we need to let our confidence in our people carry them until they have the confidence they need.
About Raymond Porten
Raymond Porten is a husband to an AMAZING wife, parent to two wonderful boys, a principal of an elementary school in northern Illinois, and a Golden Apple Scholar. He spends his free time traveling with his family, cooking with his boys, and he finds the time to co-host two podcasts. He’s been in education for 20 years and has worked as a 5th grade teacher, middle school dean, 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher, middle school assistant principal, and now serves as a principal. He believes in the importance of building relationships and taking every opportunity to lead and make a difference in the world.