The Difference Between Competence and Confidence


Competence vs. Confidence: The Difference

If there's one thing I've been clear about here at Modernity, it's 2 things:

  1. Confidence isn't something you always have to "be" and;
  2. It's not something that comes natural to many of us in one or more areas (which is why I wrote a 6-week self-study on assertiveness for modern women)

I keep seeing tweets, articles and the like around the web that don't draw this distinction for us, and I want it to be clear what I stand for here and what I believe and thus, what I hope you believe.

I'm not over here preaching that we "need to be confident", "need to be confident", and "why aren't you more confident?" That is not the vibe I give off here or what I want us to feel collectively as modern women just trying to rock it out every day with some sort of surety and encouragement along the way.

Instead, what we're doing here is cultivating a leadership within ourselves and a resolve to transform our own confidence story and align it with our personal values.

That cultivation happens from understanding ourselves more deeply, how we communicate, and ultimately how we express that self to the outside world.

However, another important distinction lies between competence and confidence.

We all know what competence refers to - adequacy, the possession of a required skill, knowledge, qualification or capacity.

However, just because I hold a particular set of skills or qualifications doesn't mean I can execute them successfully. It also doesn't mean I'm confident doing so. That's one argument that can be examined.

Conversely, we can also feel confident as hell doing something, yet feel like we can get caught up in perfectionism and lack competence for the task.

In short, you and I can be confident doing something we aren't "experts" at (or feel good enough for), and we can be experienced at something and not feel confident doing it.

In either case, what is the common denominator?

It's you and I. We are the commonality in both scenarios, which means both can happen at any given time and in any given situation, but the work is within.

This is why I say we can "have" confidence, but we don't always have to "show" it or "be" it. Because true confidence is an inner resolve about who we are and what we have to offer, regardless of how it may look on the outside. 

I just wanted to remind us gently that competence and confidence can co-exist, but sometimes they don't - and that's okay. Just because you might not feel confident when publishing your blog post, making that tough decision for your family, or re-directing a relationship in your life doesn't mean you're not competent in doing so.

Last, but not least, there's the argument for having the full package - that you can actually have both! Clearly, this is the goal in most situations and what we're going for and want to accomplish.

I'm here to encourage you to work both aspects until you feel that ebb and flow. And in the famous words of the late Steve Jobs, "as with all matters of the heart, you'll know it when you find it."

I'd love your thoughts and always welcome them in the comments. Thanks for reading...


Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash