Why you need courage before confidence

Photo of a person from the waist down walking forward on a path towards a brighter light.

How often is confidence your excuse for not taking action? It could be speaking up during a meeting, trying a new activity, launching a side business or going after a new career.

You might think you need to wait for the confidence in order to start, but what you really need is courage.

Courage comes before confidence. Confidence grows once you begin taking action.

Here are some tips for building the courage to take action:

Ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen?

Often the worst that can happen is we experience some kind of discomfort due to our emotions. You can control your emotions simply by changing your thoughts. Try believing in your ability to learn and grow. Try framing failure as learning and remind yourself of that whenever you need to. There’s always something to learn. And consider, if you don’t take action, you’re letting yourself fail before you even start. And that’s not the good kind of failure.

Alter your physiology

We’re conditioned to want to stay comfortable. You can override your tendency to remain in your comfort zone by altering the hormones that help keep you there.

Try Amy Cuddy’s power pose. Her research shows open poses can increase testosterone and lower cortisol (the stress hormone). This is said to build confidence, but just knowing the potential benefits of this easy action could give you the courage you need to move forward.

Uncouple your self worth from what you do

Earlier this year I wrote about my experience with self doubt and how I noticed my tendency to base my worth on external factors, like what other people think. I’m actively working on this. Pay attention to how you feel about yourself when something you perceive as good or bad happens. Remind yourself that you’re enough, just as you are. Trying new things is great, but how well you perform as you get started doesn’t make you a better or worse person.

Recognize that many things worth doing aren’t fast and easy

In our digital world, we often see the result of hard work, but not the work itself. Think of someone you’ve come across whose skills you admire. Remember, those skills may have taken years to cultivate. To get to that point, we’ll need to prioritize our growth over immediate gratification.

Courage builds confidence

As you exercise your courage more, you’ll start to think of yourself as someone who will try things and go after what you want. Mistakes or failures stop affecting you as much because you become so used to the process of trying and learning. This will help build your overall self confidence.

You can create outcomes in your life by setting goals and continuing to take action towards them. You might not see the results right away. So having the belief in yourself and the future result is important because you need to keep showing up.

Not everything will stick. And that’s fine! Don’t stay on a path if you truly don’t enjoy it. But don’t give up just because it gets uncomfortable, or your internal gremlins start shouting at you that you’re not good enough. Because you are good enough. Simply because you are.

If this is a topic that interests you, you might enjoy reading some of Brené Brown’s work. I also recommend The Life Coach School podcast.

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