Why Courage Is More Important Than Confidence

We tend to use these words interchangeably, but the distinction is important. When we say confidence, we usually mean courage. Or should.

Narayan Kamath
May 11, 2017 · 3 min read

“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 Comes First

I recently came across this quote on twitter that I completely resonate with :

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.

Stephen King, best selling author, 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 King

Courage is the secret sauce that allows you to act despite your fears.

Confidence is an outcome

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.

Courage Is More Important Than Confidence

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.

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..

What are you putting off today as you wait to feel more confident?
What would help you muster the courage to get something important started?

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most…

Narayan Kamath

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As an Executive Coach and Mentor, I help committed people like you Unleash Your True Potential, and achieve greater success and fulfilment — at work and in life

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.

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