The Difference Between Courage and Confidence

What are the differences between courage and confidence, and why does it matter?
Let’s first address the differences: 

  1.  Courage is linked to fear and anxiety, whereas confidence is linked to peace + happiness.
  2.  Courage requires action. Confidence is a state of being. 

To help illustrate both of these, I’ll use a recent (unfortunate) event involving a vicious dog attack on my Golden Retriever as an example.

Goldie and I were on a country walk we’ve taken hundreds of times. 

As we turned a corner, we spotted a large shepherd on the road. The dog bee-lined right for us, locking onto Goldie by the neck, pushing her to the ground.

Goldie was on her back, screaming as the dog unleashed its fury. 

I kicked the dog violently, yanking her tail to try and pull her off Goldie. But the dog outweighed me by 35 pounds of pure muscle. The feeling of helplessness was overwhelming. I was all alone watching my dog die.

Then a miracle happened. Somehow, I was able to get myself between Goldie and her attacker. I lunged at the dog, screaming, “No! No! No! No!” with a guttural voice like Linda Blair in the exorcist. 

We locked eyes, and I saw it. The unmistakable look of doubt in the dog’s eyes. The instant she broke eye contact with me, I knew I had the upper hand. Goldie and I backed away and made our way home.

Initially, I would not say I demonstrated courage. Mother bear survival instinct kicked in. That’s all. Then again, action in the face of fear is courage. 

When you use your courage, you are not fearless. You are fearful. That’s why you’re courageous.

Courage doesn’t feel good. Mostly it feels horrible. But acts of courage pave the way to confidence, peace, and happiness. 

Understanding the difference between courage and confidence matters because we can start seeing doubt and fear as a gateway rather than a roadblock.

When we feel anxious, we discharge the energy by taking positive forward action. Fear and doubt become spark and fuel to move toward confidence.

Next time you feel doubt and fear, take action. Regardless of the outcome, you’ll gain confidence.

About the author

Northwest Edutainer Rebecca P. Murray delivers high-energy virtual and live programs to those ready to become confident, creative, and compelling leaders and team players. Through her work as a communication trainer, entertaining emcee, and character comedian, she makes room for others to share the stage and showcase their shine to the world. The stage is Rebecca's playground. She'll go to almost any length to make learning fun and memorable.