Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of people talking about confidence and how they wish they had more of it. It’s as if there is this notion that one can’t have success without first being confident.

In a recent interview I heard with designer, Debbie Millman, she said something quite the opposite. She stressed that courage is far more important than confidence. She explained that confidence is achieved by repeatedly doing a thing successfully. But before that initial success is achieved, one must first have the courage to even make the attempt. This would suggest that one can’t become confident without first having courage.

Many people avoid doing a thing until they feel confident. They avoid applying for a particular job because they don’t think they’re qualified enough. They avoid doing things outside of their wheelhouse because they are afraid they may fail. The fact that you may fail at something is entirely correct.

Basing a decision to take action on whether or not you are likely to succeed can be detrimental. We can’t build our confidence without first having the courage to try.

I’m an avid cyclist. It’s hard to describe the joy I feel of walking out my front door and going for a long bike ride without a care in the world.

I grew up in a place where road cycling was difficult to do. There was always the fear of being hit by an aggressive driver.

Almost a year ago when I moved to Denver, a place where road cycling is pretty much a norm, I still had a fear of cycling on the road with drivers.

It was courage that motivated me to get over my fear, not confidence. I was in the city for weeks before I finally got on my bike and road without the protection of being on the trail. I would eventually ride beside cars and in time build up the confidence to ride my bike to work.

Now, nearly a year later, I’m so confident on the road that I sometimes move over into the lane with cars to make a left turn, without fear of being hit.

Don’t wait until you feel confidence before taking action on a thing. That confidence will never come until you first have the courage to lean in to whatever it is you are delaying. Be courageous and watch confidence follow.

Originally published at