The Difference Between Confidence and Courage - is What Sets You Apart


By Yunzhe Zhou

March 24, 2018

We often confuse confidence with courage. “I don’t have enough confidence” usually translates into “I’m not sure if I could follow through with it”.

For example, raising our hands when the speaker on stage ask for volunteers. The action itself (getting up to stand on the stage) isn’t scary, it’s the thought of uncertainty of what would happen afterwards (will I be good enough to answer or do what the speaker asks me to do?), that keeps us frozen in our tracks.

def. Confidence: belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; assurance.

It’s difficult to get assurance. Assurance means that you almost know the outcome, that it’ll be alright. That you could definitely get through it. But how would you know your boundaries if you haven’t tried to push it?

Enter courage.

def. Courage: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear.

The first step is always the hardest. Courage allows you to take that step.

If you were someone who’s never skiied before, courage is what allows you to pizza down the blue slopes. When you still aren’t sure what your abilities are, courage gives you that taste test, that recalibration. And so, maybe you’ll try the green route next time, or maybe you’ll practice the blue one a bit more until you feel comfortable.

Courage is what allows you to act not because you’re not fearful, but rather act despite your fears.

“When you’re operating out of courage, you are saying that no matter how you feel about yourself or your opportunities or the outcome, you are going to take a risk and take a step towards what you want. You are not waiting for the confidence to mysteriously arrive.” — Tribe of Mentors.

In many ways, courage is a prerequisite before confidence. If confidence is needing something to base off of to judge one’s abilities, then courage is what’s needed first to get that initial experience. Courage is thriving under uncertainty while confidence is the assessment afterwards.

In other words, you can’t get to confidence, without the courage to try something for the first time.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?