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Bravery or Confidence?

Don Jessop

Bravery is Different than Confidence

In a nutshell, bravery requires the bypassing of fearful thoughts. Confidence requires nothing. True confidence is fearlessness. So, which is best, bravery or confidence?

Confidence is obviously the best because, when you have it, you believe nothing can prevent you from doing what you want. Bravery, on the other hand, requires will power. It requires doing something when you aren't absolutely sure. It's like having a portion of confidence but not complete confidence. Wouldn't it be amazing to not have to be brave and just feel invincible? Wouldn't it be great, at least in your own mind, to be confident that everything will work out?

Well, yes... it would be fantastic, but it's also not reality. Few people feel one hundred percent confident. And age tells us that most of our confidence comes from ignorance. From not really knowing the pitfall or potential hazards. Oh, sure, we think we know, but once we get a dose of reality, it shakes our confidence big time. It's like a horse rider who believes they can ride anything, and as long as they don't get hurt, they keep believing it. Then, one day, they hit their head on the ground and begin to believe they aren't invincible. Age almost always tells us that confidence comes from ignorance, until... one day, it's not just ignorance. One day, it's a genuine, deep knowledge that takes over and you're confident because you do actually see all the pitfalls, and all the hazards, and you know you can navigate them. This is like a horse rider who takes the journey of recovering from a fall. Someone who maps out their steps, one by one, and ensures the questions are resolved before taking the next step. 

That next level-confidence is beyond powerful. It's life changing. It will literally change how you do life when you commit to mastery like that. It's a journey, no doubt, one I've taken, one you can take. Ironically... we can't start with confidence, we have to start with bravery. We have to grow our confidence and trust in our ability to navigate all situations, including the one in our brain that tells us "We can't do it." So, the goal is confidence, but we'll settle for bravery in the beginning. Bravery is taking a step to learn a step. But it's safe. Bravery should be considered safe. It can seem dangerous but it's not as dangerous as it looks. 

A few days ago, I took my nephew on a hike and found a great rock to climb on. There was a clear path to the top that even my eleven year old nephew could handle. He questioned his ability, but I kept showing him how he could back down to the previous landing and regain his composure. By approaching and retreating like this, he discovered each step up the obvious ladder to the top. He felt so accomplished when he reached the top but instead of ending our hike, I took him back to the bottom and climbed again. The second time he didn't show bravery, he showed confidence. That's when we really celebrated. When we reached the peak the second time, we both felt amazing. Me, because I was so proud, and he, because he felt something genuine, something tangible.  On the drive home I explained how confidence is grown, and even at his young age, he seemed to catch the idea. 

True confidence is the goal, but we have to settle for being brave in the beginning. We have to settle for small steps with a knowledgeable, solid footing to launch from. We need to test each step, feel it out, and build trust in that next step slowly until it becomes out next launching pad. Bravery, in my opinion is not doing stupid things, it's doing smart things, but the key word is "doing." Sitting back and staring at the problem, or the fear, or the weakness won't get you anywhere. Leaving and never testing the next step, will get you nowhere too. You have to trust you current footing, knowing you can always retreat to it, and move. Explore the space, test your next step. That's where the magic is. 

For horse riders, that step is often just standing at the mounting block and leaning over the horse, over and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, until finally, it feels safe to sit on the horse. All the time, knowing you can easily retreat back the mounting block or slide to the ground safely because you're not stuck in a 'waiting for something happen' pattern. You're in control. Just remember, confidence comes with repetition. That is, confidence not born in ignorance. It's not the first time you climb the rock that you feel it. It's the second, or third, or tenth time. All the other times, it's a feeling of not being confident, but brave instead. It's a beautiful feeling. It's not fake. It's progress. 

I believed in my nephew that day, and I believe in you too! Take the first steps with me.  Don

Don Jessop - Blog Welcome

Hi! I'm Don Jessop

With Mastery Horsemanship

I write to inspire, educate and encourage you on your horse and personal journey.

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