Confidence vs Courage

by | Oct 12, 2023

The day I gave my first official Erin O’Malley keynote, my sister, brother, and SIL arranged a gift to be sent to my hotel. I opened the box to find a leather bracelet inscribed with, “She believed she could, so she did.”

I was on the phone with a friend freaking out in a good way celebrating my keynote because I OWNED THAT STAGE and told her about the bracelet. From the other end of the phone, I heard laughter. Guffaw would be the SAT word that described the sound I heard on the other end of the line. 

I asked, “What’s so funny? What’s happening there?” She could barely talk she was laughing so hard. She said, “No, it’s what’s happening THERE. They should have had it inscribed with ‘She did, so she believed she could.’” Touché.

Said friend had been with me for the months of prep leading up to this keynote. The ideation, the practice, the bouts of uncertainty, the frustration, the doubt, the excitement. You know, the normal process for crafting a keynote. 

While I had been on stages and speaking for a decade, there’s a different sort of pressure when it’s your material and your stuff on stage. I felt it. 

Then she heard me on the other side after I dominated that stage. “I knew it the whole time. I knew you would rock it. It was you that wasn’t sure…” 

I would argue, but she was right. I knew it logically, but I didn’t believe it emotionally until I did it. 

Two days ago, I delivered a brand-new keynote to a group of female optometrists. The theme: “Embrace Your Bold, Lead with Confidence.” 

The doctors had a chance to remember the first time they embraced their bold, and the powerful, empowering, and energized feelings that came when they aligned with what they showed on the outside with what they knew to be true on the inside. 

They were feeling pretty good until I asked them the first time they embraced their bold and were told they were “too much.” Too loud. Too quiet. Skirt too short. Hair too big. Every head in the room nodded, relating to their “too much” moment. Are you feeling yours?

From that moment on, consciously or subconsciously, intentionally or not we change how we show up. We get quiet. We shrink. We hesitate. Our confidence gets shaken, and we don’t act. 

If we’re not confident, we’re not taking action. If we’re not taking action, we rattle the belief in ourselves that we can do it. So the downward spiral goes. 

There’s no one definition for how to be bold. We all own our boldness differently. However, there is one specific trait that is required to embrace your boldness, and that is courage. 

With courage, we get up on that stage. With courage, we stay quiet when they are goading us to speak up. With courage, we speak up when they want us to stay quiet. With courage, we trust ourselves to listen to that inner voice. With courage, we step into the vulnerability it takes to let go of the outcome of being our bold selves. 

It’s courage that galvanizes us to act.  Through that action, through doing it, we get our confidence. 

She did, so she believed she could. 

That’s the flow of courage to confidence. 

That’s the flow of courage to confidence. 

  • What’s something your stalling taking action on?
  • Where’s a space that you are quiet and you want to get loud? Or loud, and want to get quiet?
  • Where is there something that you need to take action on? 

Tap into that courage, take action, and the confidence will come. 

Time to text my sister, bro, and SIL and tell them two things: first, the keynote is now named “Embrace Your Bold, Lead with COURAGE.” Second, when the next keynote delivery is–it’s time for a new bracelet.


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