Courage v. Confidence

The Path to Personal Courage

What do you think about cultivating courage in your personal actions? How necessary is a high level of confidence to the task?

An element that is extremely useful for understanding concepts that are life-transforming comes from Thomas Leonard’s idea of coaching distinctions. Here we are looking at a post by Tom Morris using the famous analogy of Plato’s Cave to explore the difference between confidence and courage.

The only way out of the cave was well known to Plato, and was highly regarded by his student, Aristotle. It is the path of personal courage. Aristotle understood courage as a primary virtue, or strength, in human life. He saw it as a midway point between the extremes and vices of timidity and temerity – or the overly cautious capitulation to fear, on the one hand, and the irrational disregard of danger, on the other. Courage recognizes challenge, understands risk, and while fully cognizant of danger, moves forward with the insight that the best path to the future demands positive action now.

We’ve heard a lot of talk recently about the absence of confidence to be found throughout America, and our pressing need for much more. Confidence is an attitude expectant of success and is a universal facilitator of achievement in situations of uncertainty, as many of the great philosophers have understood. We do indeed need more of this quality than we’re demonstrating right now across the culture. But the virtue of courage can be even more important in a situation of dark threats and daunting anxieties. Deep within the cave, our first need is to be brave.

A courageous person does what’s right rather than what’s easy. He does what’s needed rather than what’s expected. He’s willing to take a chance to make a positive difference. He’s not rash in his actions, or careless in his commitments. And yet he’s not so cautious as to remain trapped in chains of fear. A confident person believes that his actions will succeed. A courageous person may start out only hoping that they will. He does what he thinks he should do, regardless of his degree of confidence. And then, quite often and wonderfully, the actions arising from that courage help to build up and justify the confidence that then works to support him as he goes on.

I love the distinction regarding how a courageous person may not have the confidence to act, yet still does; that courage compels one to move forward in the face of anxiety and fear; that the same courage then can increase our confidence when one is on the other side of the fear by stepping through inertia and moving forward.

What is one way that you acted courageously recently?

How do you instill this courage in your children?

Please share your comments below.

Have a courageous day!

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Courage By Design « Finding Ann MacGregor
  2. Trackback: The Six Attributes of Courage « BraveGirl Coaching
  3. Rommel
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 01:36:28

    For me, i believe that Confidence & Courage are almost equal. Courage is the willingness to take risk & face fear. While Confidence is believing in oneself that the person can overcome risk and fear.

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    • Michelle Hess
      Jan 01, 2015 @ 18:52:21

      Yes, they are closely related that is for sure! I see confidence as based on experience and achievement. When you have received positive feedback on your actions or activities it can build your self-confidence. Courage can be engaged when you aren’t confident at all, but are acting bravely, often in the face of potential negative consequences. Confidence seems more like an attitude to me.

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