Bettina and her handmade bird feeder
Bettina and her handmade bird feeder

I was recently approached by a fellow manager who wanted to check out my views on supporting people to be confident, and a team member to be more confident. Really a straight forward question, but not as easy as you might think (if you already see yourself as confident). In my experience, confidence and being confident means something different to everyone.

Being put on the spot by my colleague, I am not sure if what I said was particularly helpful, but it did make me think and reflect during my three hour drive home. I knew I wanted to be more supportive and helpful, but how could I go back to my colleague in a more articulate and concise manner which would help make a difference to someone who might be struggling in this area?

So I went to my ‘go to’ person – Bettina.  My youngest daughter, Bettina, shows me the way on so many areas of life, and working towards becoming more confident is something Bettina has been very successful with over the years.

Bettina’s Five Lessons on Confidence

  1. Experiences: As many as possible. Bettina has accumulated a huge amount of life experiences over the last 27 years.   It is these challenging experiences you can recall when your confidence dips.  You did it then – you can do it now!
  2. Being Passionate: Seek out the things that you love; inspire you; and aspire to and which will make a difference in your life.  Do them often, both in your professional and personal life.
  3. Clothes (image): When Bettina looks the part she feels the part!  When she looks good she feels good.  We see a notable difference in her body language and her attitude when she is wearing something that makes her feel good – so treat yourself (if I have a big meeting look out for the new shirt!)
  4. Take risks: When Bettina started school, we said to her teachers “take risks” with her (as long as they are safe!).  Bettina wants to be ‘stretched.’  Bettina is at her most confident when she has been stretched and she has come through.  She has a sense of accomplishment.
  5. Courage: Be Brave!  Recognise that you are nervous, that you are uncomfortable with your situation and then do it anyway.  Each time you do, you will feel more confident – just like Bettina.

How can you help a person close to you to be more confident?  This is what Bettina’s parents do everyday for her:

  • Praise, and not just when Bettina has completed a task, but at each stage of the activity she is involved in – her two favourite words are ‘well done.’ Come on you know how good it feels when someone says it to you.
  • Don’t over protect the person close to you. I know it is tempting to do the task for them but ‘support’ is helping someone to do a better job not doing the job for them.
  • Show that you care. Make sure you are not far away.  We ask how she is and how she is feeling
  • Be her champion and her cheerleader!
  • Coaching – we always aim for Bettina to come up with her own answers. (So keep digging as people come up with their answers they start to feel good and thereby confident)

And what happens when Bettina becomes confident?

  • She progresses. Bettina has been like a steam train coming through with her progression from communication to her understanding of her surroundings
  • Her tasks gets done so much quicker
  • She has fun – Bettina smiles a lot and she enjoys her life
  • People want to be around her – her confidence is attractive and draws people in.
  • People feel secure in her company
  • She is self assured

I started supporting people with learning disabilities in 1996 and wanted to introduce the lessons Bettina taught me and put them into practice.  It was during the early years of my new career that I received a compliment I still hold dear to this day.  The mum of a woman who I supported said that since I had started supporting her daughter she had never been so confident (and so ‘well spoken’ but that is a subject for another post!).

And finally…

Bettina’s Personal Assistant recently told us that she had never met a person who copes with a learning disability who was so positive and confident.  Well done Bettina!