Sometimes it’s not confidence, it’s courage.

confidence vs courage

It wasn’t confidence that got Rosie to stand up and do a TEDx talk on the role bystanders have in social issues. It was courage.

It seems to be part of the human disposition to compare ourselves with other people. We compare our achievements, our relationships and our successes. Often comparing with people who seem to have what we want but we believe we couldn’t have that because we lack confidence. Confidence lets us down again and again in life. The world can be a scary place without confidence.

Throughout the years I have heard again and again,  ‘oh I could never do that…’ about anything from dancing without alcohol, quitting their job to asking that attractive girl out. And the reason they always give is the same: ‘I’m not confident enough.’

A month ago, I was a speaker for TEDxWarwick. As with many people, being asked to do a TEDx is considered a pretty inspiring achievement, a pinnacle of their career. So it was daunting! I had only started public speaking 9 months ago and the most I’d ever spoken in front of was around 45 people… this was on stage (with one of those microphones that attach to your head!) for 1,500 people. It would be put out online to potentially receive thousands and thousands of views. Gulp.

But what struck me was how many people contacted me to ask how I’d managed to land that opportunity. Even people I deemed far more successful than I. And the only answer I could give was… I applied. How did I manage to speak in front of an audience of 1,500 people? I just opened my mouth. People stated, ‘I wish I could be as confident as you…’

Now the last time I checked, I was still human. As human as anyone else. The same sort of human that cringed at that badly worded text message, that laughed at someone tripping and would look in the mirror and complain about what she saw. There were no hidden magical powers behind my smile or a superwoman cape hanging on the back of my door. I was like everyone else, and yet, I had spoken on the incredible TEDx platform, which was not like everyone else. Clearly I had something that so many others wanted. This special gift called confidence.

However, it didn’t feel like confidence as I lay awake for hours on the lead up, and as I struggled to eat lunch right before my performance. Confidence certainly didn’t write my first, second and third draft of my talk as I would pace around the room and desperately try not to tear my hair out! And it didn’t look like confidence when I saw the other speakers nervously practicing behind stage, hands shaking and palms sweating.

Well, here’s a secret. It wasn’t confidence that got me or the other speakers on that famous red circle. It wasn’t confidence that had the other speakers I saw nervously pacing behind stage or making their hands shake and palms sweat.

It was courage.

Too many people witness someone else’s courage and mistake it for confidence. There is a reason we call it courage, because it isn’t easy. However, it does prove just what we are all capable of. If you are not taking risks whilst yearning for more and watching others living the lives they want, dating the partner they want or achieving the milestones they want… You can start. Courage is something you will always have. Once we can all see this fundamental truth we can no longer hide behind the misfortune of not having confidence… because the chances are, neither do a lot of people.

This could seem scary, but actually, as I’ve seen as a coach helping so many people, it’s empowering. When people choose courage they then grow in faith of their own abilities to handle risks. The only difference between the ones doing the things others want to do and dream to do, is that they do it. They do it regardless of how they feel. They choose courage, and so can you.

Silence is never neutral | Rosie Allen’s TEDx talk

Having worked with victims of abuse, Rosie Allen emphasises the role bystanders have in social issues. Her deeply vulnerable and emotional talk helps us to reflect on our position in society.


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