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Confidence is something that I talk about everyday with athletes and business leaders alike. A lot of people see it as something that you either have or you don’t but I see it as a muscle that can be trained like any other muscle in our bodies. The way you do this is by learning how to identify your past successes and utilize them purposefully to give you positive feelings of self belief. By reaching back into our past memories, we can find examples of when we did things well, when we used complex skills, when we executed on a task. With these examples, we can learn to say, “I can because I did”. 

Yet, recently, I have been having a lot of conversations with clients and colleagues about the difference between confidence and cockiness. 

“Isn’t cockiness just extreme confidence put on display?” Yes and no. 

So what’s the difference between confidence and cockiness?

Confidence= Strong belief in self and one’s ability to problem solve/’figure it out’

Cockiness= A self-protective front designed to hide deep-seeded insecurities 

Confidence is a strong belief in self based on past experiences and future vision. Example, I have something I want to accomplish, so I take a look back into my memories to find a time I did something similar to find the skills I used, the skills I possess, that will help me in my pursuit. As a result, I have a sense of knowing exactly what I need to do and how to do it because I’ve done something similar (or the exact same thing) before. I can because I did.

Cockiness is used to hide the fact that I have very little to no confidence in my ability to accomplish something; I have no memories (that I can access) to support my ability to do this, in fact, all I can find are past memories of my own failure. I am terrified that I am going to fail and that I will be a failure but no one can know this so I’m going to protect myself by throwing up a shield that looks like confidence. 

To put it simply, confidence is based on an inner self-supportive belief. Cockiness is fueled by an inner self-sabotaging belief (i.e., I’m not good enough, I don’t belong, I have no value, etc.)


Coach Lauren Williams | High-Performance Coach 

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