How to Help Someone Become Strong and Confident
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It was the fall of 1980 and with dreams almost as big as my shoulder pads I decided to take a chance and run for student body president. I crafted my campaign speech (in between episodes of Charlie’s Angels…I had my priorities) and videotaped it.
The speeches of my opponent and I aired in the high school cafeteria. I blinked like a frog in a hail storm the entire time. Proof of it was running on a loop All. Day. Long. But I was undaunted because not even over-sized shoulders pads and nervous tics can get in the way when deep down you just want to help.
There are some obstacles to helping others that we can push through. But what do we do when we’ve made up our mind to help but we’re not sure what that looks like?
A few months back I heard a wise counselor say, “You should never work harder than the person you’re trying to help.” Wow. Talk about a pearl of wisdom. But even more, I think his words are a bridge to a powerful truth about helping others.
If we really want to help someone, we must empower them to help themselves.
An empowered person is someone who is strong and confident. Which begs the question,
How the heck do you help someone become strong and confident?!
Recently I had the privilege of speaking to a group of college students at a Leadership Summit. We talked about Five Simple Steps For Empowering Others.
STEP #1- LISTEN
You and I may not necessarily consider ourselves leaders but if our aim is to help someone, we are in fact leading. If we want to do it effectively, we have to develop our listening skills.
“The difference between a good leader and a great leader is that a great leader uses their ears more than their mouth.”~ Braveheart
It is only by listening to others that we can discover what motivates them… what they love, or what they loathe.
For example, perhaps the person we hope to empower loves creativity. If we ask our creative friend to help stuff envelopes for four hours they must shrivel up, but ask them to create a logo on a sticker for the back side of the envelope and we will have empowered them to operate from their strength.
STEP #2- LOOK
Fortunately, listening isn’t the only tool in our toolbox for learning how to empower others. This is a good thing, because sometimes we don’t always hear and sometimes, they don’t always speak. That’s why we always need to be on the look-out.
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”~ Albert Einstein
We need to keep a careful eye on those we hope to empower. If what we’re seeing appears to be a fish climbing a tree (and our listening skills and gut confirms it) we may need to circle back and assess what role do we need to take? Teacher, advocate, mentor, coach? Bottom line, we need to listen and look in order to become a good student of those we hope to empower.
STEP #3- LEARN
Being a student implies that there are things we don’t know. Just like any student we’ll need to tap into tools and materials that may help us help them. There is no shortage of teaching resources. You know me. I’m a faith-based girl so the greatest resource to me will always be the B.I.B.L.E.
However, depending the need you’re trying to address, you may benefit from other tools. I’ve listed a few below but they only scratch the surface!
Is your person struggling with finances? How about wisdom from Dave Ramsey?
Is there marital strain? What about Beating Fifty Percent?
Do they need guidance in parenting? How about Focus on the Family?
STEP #4- LET GO
This is probably the most difficult AND the most vital of all the steps. The single most important thing we have to do if we truly want to empower someone else is to know when we should do NOTHING. Doing nothing can be scary and gut-wrenching but it’s necessary. When we take a step back we give others our unspoken vote of confidence.
STEP #5- LOOP BACK
We could sum up this last step in two words.
We’re going to do it all over again.
Listen– really strive to hear what things our people love, what they loathe, what makes them tick!
Look– Become students of the person we want to help. Watch and see if our observations are in sync with what we are hearing.
Learn– Use every tool, tip and trick to better understand this business of empowerment and those we hope to help.
Let Go– Take our best shot at empowerment and then employ the single most important step—which is to step back!
Helping the people we care about become individuals of strength and confidence is not for the faint of heart. Fortunately, we aren’t in charge of the outcome and we don’t have to put forth the effort alone.
Jesus cares more about the people in our lives than we do. You and I just need to do our part and then sit back and watch Him do His!
Savoring the journey with you,
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