Public speaking

A client tells me she needs to build up the confidence to put a contentious issue on the table with her executive team. So does she need confidence, or courage?

What’s the difference? Well, courage is what you have when you face something scary, and do it anyway. Confidence is what you have after you’ve done it. Courage comes from wanting something badly enough that you’ll do what it takes to get it. Confidence comes from knowing you can do it. Courage shows us we’re capable of more than we thought. Confidence sustains us at that new level.

When what’s right and what’s safe are two different paths, your degree of willingness to be courageous is what determines the path you take. When what you truly want comes with uncertainty and risk, courage is your link between intention and action.

The moment of courage is when we decide to cross a threshold. Away from certainty and safety, and into vulnerability and possibility.

So where does courage come from? What allows some people to take bold action in the face of the unknown? The answer is conviction. How much do you want it? Why would you even bother? What makes it worth the risk? You’ve got to be able to answer those questions with conviction if you’re ever going to be able to muster the courage to act decisively.

If we want to be successful, our behaviour must be aligned with our convictions. These are the things we most deeply stand for and believe in. Here are three key questions to consider:

What are you holding back from doing?

If you took decisive action, what would that say about who you are and what you stand for?

What is the act of not taking decisive action costing you?

When we choose courage over certainty, something profound happens to us. Something gets ignited, sometimes quietly, and sometimes earthshakingly. A little more of the person we wish we could be shows up. Sometimes, the person we didn’t even know we could be comes alive. And we relish it.

Every day, we’re given the opportunity to act on moments of courage. Look for them, listen for them. And then act on them. Courage. Small word. Big idea.