Debbie Millman on the Power of Courage over Confidence

Interviewer:

Does confidence have a lot to do with success?

Debbie Millman:

After an interview with the great writer Dani Shapiro on my podcast, Design Matters, she and I started to talk about the role of confidence in success.

During the conversation, Dani said that she felt confidence was highly overrated. I was instantly intrigued. Most overly confident people, she said, were really annoying. And the most confident people were usually arrogant. Over-exuding confidence was a sure sign that a person was compensating for some type of internal psychological deficit. Dani argued that courage was more important than confidence. When you are acting from a place of courage, you are saying that no matter how you feel about yourself or your opportunities or the outcome, you are going to take a risk and take a step toward what you want. You are willing to allow yourself to be vulnerable – in showing your art, starting a business that might succeed or fail, having an opinion on something, being in a relationship. You are not waiting for the confidence to mysteriously arrive.

I believe that confidence is achieved through repeated success. Repeated success provides a foundation that exudes confidence. Really smart people don’t have to prove that they are smart; they exude intelligence. It isn’t heavy-handed or showy. You can’t tell someone you are smart or intelligent and expect they will automatically believe you. Authentic confidence is more internal; it isn’t cocky or arrogant. If you have to “tell” people you are confident, chances are you are insecure about its authenticity.

Confidence is achieved through that willingness to continually put yourself in vulnerable situations. Success or failure has nothing to do with it.

Read the full interview here

Debbie Millman is an American writer, educator, artist, curator and designer who is best known as the host of the podcast Design Matters.

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