Confidence and courage are closely related. We often need them both in challenging circumstances. But how exactly do they relate to each other? It occurred to me today that I should reflect for a moment on what's similar and what's different between these two important qualities.
I've claimed for years that confidence is one of the seven most universal conditions for success in any difficult undertaking. But why not courage? Don't we need it as well? Why would one of these qualities, and not the other, be universally applicable to success in challenging endeavors?
First, some careful clarification.
Both confidence and courage are dispositions to think and act in certain ways rather than others. Neither of these qualities in you will let your circumstances dictate what you think or what you do. Courage and confidence both seek to rise above circumstances and shape reality, not just reflect it.
Confidence isn't mainly about believing that certain things will certainly or likely happen. It doesn't require making precise predictions concerning the future and feeling sure of them. It's more about believing in yourself, or your team, than it is about believing that one or another thing is sure to happen.
Courage is more about valuing and treasuring, than it is about predicting or believing, although it can involve all these things.
Confidence is a positive orientation toward doing what you judge to be right that's undeterred by obstacles. It carries a personal expectation that your action will lead you in some way closer to your goals.
Courage is a positive orientation toward doing what you judge to be right that's undeterred by danger. It carries with it a positive commitment that your action is right, regardless of its ultimate results.
Ignorance isn't confidence. Ignorance isn't courage. Neither positive quality can be produced by brainwashing indoctrinations, or supported by mind altering drugs. Each of these qualities is best nurtured in a soil of knowledge and wisdom.
Confidence helps you do what you feel you want to do. It's about marshaling your resources.
Courage helps you do what you feel you ought to do. It's about defeating your fears.
A person acting courageously doesn't necessarily expect success in securing a desired outcome. A person acting confidently does to some extent expect success in securing a desired outcome.
Confidence is a universal condition for success in any challenging endeavor, because challenges always involve obstacles and difficulties. Courage is always helpful, but not always literally necessary, since many challenging situations don't literally involve dangers of harm. But a generally courageous person ordinarily has an easier time of being confident in the face of difficulty.
The deeper of the two qualities may be courage. But the most pervasively useful is probably confidence. When you think about them enough, you come to realize that, different as they are, these two qualities very often go together and be mutually supporting.