“I want to focus on confidence. I don’t feel very confident, so I hesitate to speak up and take action, even when I know it is the right thing to do."

A client mentioned this in an exploratory call a few days ago. I had asked her what she would like to get out of working together.

“Confidence? Or courage?” I asked.

It is important to make this distinction clear. Most people assume that it is confidence that helps them start new things and confidence that keeps them going.

I think courage is more important than confidence.

Courage Paves the Road to Confidence

I recently came across this quote on Twitter that completely resonated with me:

You need courage to begin something. When you begin something, there is a lot of uncertainty. Uncertainty about the outcome or consequences, uncertainty about the environment, uncertainty about whether you will be able to garner the support you need, uncertainty about the the response of others.

The uncertainty is always there—it is a given. However, our mind usually responds with fear. These uncertainties give rise to fear of failure, fear of loss, fear of rejection, fear of looking foolish, fear of being alone.

Bestselling author Stephen King, who is a master when it comes to playing with fear, writes:

“The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.” — Stephen KingTweet

Courage is the secret sauce that allows you to act despite your fears. Courage gives you the ability to put aside your fear of failure and take the first steps. Courage helps you overcome the fear of rejection and engage your stakeholders. Courage allows you to attempt things that you have not tried before, despite your fear of looking foolish.

Confidence Is an Outcome

woman courage

Confidence is an outcome. It is the result of the constant practice that allows you to hone your skills. It is the benefit of becoming very familiar with your process, product, stakeholders through long and consistent engagement. It is the dividend of encountering the unexpected and dealing successfully with it over and over again.

When we think of confidence, we are looking for proof that we will succeed, that our idea will work, that we will get the outcome we seek. You can’t start with confidence when attempting something new. That is overconfidence or false bravado. True confidence can only come with time, not a priori.

It's Time to Call on Your Courage


It does help to be optimistic, and you can certainly derive comfort from your track record. Your history of successfully completing projects or tasks, acquiring new skills, and maintaining your motivation and commitment can help. However, it is unrealistic to feel confident about a new task or project or skill.

When you start something, you can only draw on courage.Tweet

As you become more skilled, as you see results, as you experience success, you become more confident and you need not invoke courage as much. However, when you start, you can only draw on courage. That is all you ever have—your courage. So courage is more important than confidence.

We spend a lot of time seeking more confidence. We wait to feel confident before we take action. This is a mistake, because we will never feel confident until we try and succeed. Or fail and try again before we get it right. If we wait for confidence to begin, we might end up waiting for a long time—or forever. Which is why courage is more important than confidence.

"Why Courage Is More Important Than Confidence" originally appeared on Narayan Kamath's blog, Unleash Your True Potential.

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