Have you ever listened to someone speak and they used one word in place of another with a different meaning? Two of such words that I often hear people use interchangeably are courage and confidence. What really is the difference between them?
Confidence is a feeling of trust or belief in one’s abilities, while courage is the mental or moral strength to withstand difficulty without fear. It’s easier for one to be confident in something they have prior knowledge on as opposed to totally new ground. Courage, however, is the ability and strength to go forth despite a lack of certain knowledge or skill viewed as necessary in a certain field.
Courage is a prerequisite to confidence. In order to have faith and believe in one’s abilities, it’s important to have some experience gained that then sharpens the abilities. Courage is therefore needed to step into unfamiliar spaces without the certainty of outcome in order to grow in skill and knowledge which subsequently builds on confidence. It is therefore important to build on both courage and confidence in whatever field one is in.
Here are 7 ways you can build your courage and confidence:
1. Look past fear
Fear is a powerful, natural and primitive human emotion that has helped the human race survive many dangerous situations over the course of time. However, in many situations, it serves us negatively to be in a state of fear. Although fear can be caused by actual impending danger, most times, it’s a reaction to an imagined one; the possibility of something failing.
Most people never get to their destinies due to fear. However, one way they can conquer this feeling is to learn to look past their fear especially when it’s a result of their imagination. If you wish to do this, you must learn to be mindful of your thoughts.
Mindfulness allows you to quickly discern the thoughts you are having and analyze them accordingly. As you do, ask yourself a series of questions to get yourself in the right frame of mind and chase away fear and the worry it brings.
“Can I do anything about this?”
“Is there any real cause for alarm?”
And my personal favourite, “What is the worst that could possibly happen?”
If you can learn to analyze your thoughts and sift through them, you will build the courage and confidence required to look past the fear and insecurities and focus on what you could gain by taking the step of faith despite the fear.
2. Stretch yourself
“You are only as weak as you let yourself become, and you’re only as strong as you allow yourself to be,” Daniel Hansen.
Many people prefer to stay in spaces that are comfortable for them. For example, if you’ve been working an 8-5 kind of job where you’re assured of a salary at the end of every month, it’d look like such a stretch for you to step out of that and pursue your dream of entrepreneurship.
So many people never get to realize their full potential due to choosing the comfort zone. Allowing yourself to step out of comfort zones to pursue purpose and passion may not be easy but it’s always worth the try. It’s in these spaces that you realize things about yourself that you’d never have known about.
3. Follow through the process
Rome was definitely not built in a day. Confidence too is built over time and so is courage. It’s the small steps towards building it that count. It’s not the failures that define you, it’s the ability to bounce back and keep the courage as you build on confidence.
You’ve most likely heard of top achievers all over the world talk about how they failed in a number of situations but chose to take the lessons and forge forward.
Bill gates for example, who is a well-known global figure, is known for co-founding The Microsoft Corporation. He, however, had an entity before that failed called traf-o-data. Henry Ford, founder of ford motor company had two car companies before ford that failed and left him broke. The list goes on and on.
It takes a process, often a long and arduous one, to build on courage and confidence and it’s prudent of us to allow the process to take place and to shape us into what we are meant to be.
4. Embrace your strengths
Think for a minute the difference you would make if you paid more attention to your strengths instead of beating yourself up over your weaknesses. Well, it’s important to know your weaknesses and work on improving those areas, but it does a lot more recognizing your strengths as well.
Once you embrace your strengths, you soon realize that there are some things you’re able to effortlessly execute that actually call for loads of courage for most people. We generally have a tendency to pick out the negative faster than the positive, and the inverse would be such an investment.
If only we can learn to see the strengths others see in us and embrace them. Only then will we find in us the courage and confidence to live our lives to the fullest.
5. Weigh risk vs. Opportunity
Everything has its pros and cons. There’s the good and bad side, the easy and hard parts, the risks and opportunities. “what if it fails?” Is a question that stops most people from ever stepping out in courage, but “what if it succeeds?” There’s definitely going to be risk attached to most situations but equally, there’s an opportunity.
For instance, reaching out to a panelist of a conference you’ve attended has both risk and opportunity. On one hand, they may not be willing to engage in conversation, but on the other hand, they may be looking forward to mentoring someone. The opportunity is definitely worth being courageous, instead of missing out on everything because of the fear of rejection.
On a more personal level, forgiving someone who hurt you has both risk and opportunity attached. There’s the risk of this person hurting you again later on, but there’s an opportunity for healing for your heart. The opportunity definitely outdoes the risk.
Focusing on the opportunities in a venture more than being afraid of the risks will go a long way in building courage and subsequent confidence.
6. Sieve others’ opinions
People will always have something to say, whether you’re on the right track or not. Look at the issue of weight loss for example. People will always have an opinion on how your body looks like. It’ll either be that you’ve added weight, or you’ve lost so much weight.
Either way, opinions will be aired and it takes a high level of self-awareness to decide what to take up and what not to. It’s therefore important to decide who you’re going to listen to and who you’ll not.
Ignorance is not bliss in this case. It’s important to listen to those who’ve been in the space you’re looking to be courageous to step into, but everything doesn’t work the same for everyone. Therefore, there is need to sieve the opinions of others. Not everyone has good intentions as well and not everyone understands why you’re making the courageous move.
Learn to take what’s yours and only what will enrich your life and live boldly.
7. Celebrate the small wins
Building courage and confidence is a process, which may sometimes get a little overwhelming. This is especially true if you get caught up in working and working and never taking a moment to actually look at how you’ve grown.
For example, if your ultimate goal is to start your own business, celebrate the time you come up with the business name, when you register the entity, when you raise enough capital to start, when you leave your place of employment and any other small step you make towards achieving this goal.
This will help you boost your confidence and encourage you to keep going. It doesn’t matter how small you think an achievement is, celebrate it anyway.
Now that you know how to build your confidence and courage, what next?
Confidence grows as courage grows. The more courage you build, the more you’re able to have confidence in things you’d ordinarily not. Every step you take without assurance of the outcome builds your courage to take another and another.
It is therefore necessary that we look at the things that have held us back in the past and truly evaluate. Are they things we could get into if we stretched ourselves and stopped focusing on fear? If they are, take a different step in being courageous enough to allow the process of growth into confidence.
The only difference between you and the people you admire and look up to is courage. You really never know how far you can go until you take your first step. Courage does not belittle the fears and risks involved, it just chooses to focus on the opportunity attached more.
Once you choose courage, remember that accountability is necessary. Surround yourself with people who understand why you’re pursuing what you’re going after and who’ll keep you accountable. It helps to have like-minded company who’ll remind you of why you’re doing what you’ve chosen to do and point you to the bigger picture at all times so that you keep going.
Courage is a choice that you make without an assured outcome, and it’s what will ultimately bring forth assured outcomes. Think about where all the people who benefit from great establishments would have been if the owners of these entities chose fear over courage. Think about all we’d be missing out on.
Step out and build your courage now. It will soon turn into confidence and help you build the life you’ve always desired.