Recently, I’ve been hearing the phrase "competence comes before confidence."

This statement first came from the very confident founder of a successful online wedding channel who is now the founder and CEO of a global lifestyle brand. The second time I heard it was after watching a recruitment commercial produced by an educational institution. This message when placed in front of seasoned career professionals and young starters alike bothered me greatly, not because it is untrue, but because it attributes to limiting beliefs and a perspective that delays career progression. When put in this limiting context, the notion that “competence comes before confidence” suggests that competence is the kick starter to success. Nothing can be further from the truth. Competence comes with practice; however, you need confidence--self-belief and faith in the outcomes--to take that first step towards gaining competence and generating the momentum towards increasingly more success. Confidence in action is exhibited through beliefs and behavior.

"Having talent isn’t merely about being competent; confidence is a part of that talent.

You have to have it to excel." - Kay & Shipman, The Confidence Gap

In the workplace, “intellectual confidence” is exhibited through a combination of training, knowledge and hard skills development that makes one proficient or competent. This is what the CEO of the global lifestyle brand was referring to when describing the confidence her sales force would feel and display resulting from acquiring the skills and competencies needed to sell the product. How successful these individuals will be can be attributed to their level of confidence in their ability, and trust in their belief that they will be successful. “Influential, Political, and Relational Confidence” is built upon the amount of courage required to take greater risks, accept failure, and following through without fear of the outcome. It requires soft skills such as leadership, interpersonal communication, and emotional intelligence. Korn Ferry Institute's 2017 study on efficacy talks about intellectual, influential/political, and relational confidence.

"Risk taking, failure, and perseverance are essential to confidence-building."

- Kay & Shipman, The Confidence Gap

Confidence in oneself is far reaching and encompassing of multiple life experiences both inside and outside of the workplace. It is a holistic concept that includes your perception of future goals and forward progress to live your fullest life. Confidence is applicable to all areas of the Lifespace-personal space, self, relationships, and career. Don’t wait for competence, start building confidence now through bold action and strategic reaction to increase opportunities for success.

Tips To Close The Loop Between Competence And Confidence

  1. ACTION: Take action to gain access and ownership. Decide to act when you are more than 50% towards your goal. Act to gain access into the discussion room and to the head of the decision-making hierarchy.

  2. PERFORMANCE: Invest in personal and professional development, building hard and soft skills that will allow you to continue to grow, adapt, and reach your fullest potential.

  3. RESILIENCE: Accept failure in order to build resilience across ever-changing environments and situations.

  4. SUCCESS: Take time to acknowledge and celebrate life and success.

The Center For Confidence is currently conducting a survey to better understand if individuals are confident that their career relationships are moving them closer to their goals.

Relational Confidence Survey: Take the survey at:

Dr. V. Brooks Dunbar,

Author, DIVA DECISIONS: How to Get from Smart to Intelligent by Claiming Your Power of Choice:

Contact Info:

Facebook: @DrVBrooksDunbar @thecenterforconfidence

Twitter: @DrVDunbar @cent4confidence

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© 2017 by Dr. V. Brooks Dunbar #DRVBROOKSDUNBAR