What’s the difference between confidence and resilience?

They are different yet closely connected.

I was asked this question in a training course recently. A great question. Here’s my response.

Confidence is the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something. In the case of self-confidence it’s the feeling and belief that you can rely on yourself.

To be self-confident means to thoroughly know and embrace who you are and to be comfortable with your strengths and weaknesses alike. It doesn’t mean that you’re perfect or always get things right. When you’re confident you believe in your skills and abilities, and that if things don’t go to plan that you’ll still be able to operate.

Resilience is the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties, setbacks and when things don’t go to plan. It’s the ability to dust yourself off and get back up again. It’s sometimes referred to as ‘grit’ or ‘mental toughness’. If you have resilience, you might not succeed, or situations outside of your control might wreck your plans but you have the ability to manage the setback, readjust and keep going.

Confidence and resilience are interlocked and symbiotic. They need each other.

When you’re confident you’re more likely to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. When you step out of your comfort zone there is greater risk of failure, because doing something unknown that you’ve not done before might not work. You’re confident to take the knock back. You know that you’re able to pick yourself up and have another go. This picking yourself up is resilience at work, and like anything, the more you do it the better you get.

When you’re resilient it helps to build confidence because you know that you got knocked down and picked yourself up before so you can do it again. So you step out of your comfort zone to learn something new. You take more risks, stretch yourself more, get knocked back and build your resilience and so on.

Conversely, when the knock back is too big and you can’t pick yourself back up it knocks your confidence which means you’re more likely to stay in your lane, stick with what you know, take less risks and miss the opportunity to build resilience in the future. (This is one of the reasons that I suggest you edge out of your comfort zone into a place of learning rather than take giant leaps into a danger zone)

Research shows that self-confident people are more likely to bounce back and that they do so faster after a setback. Their belief in their own ability to ultimately succeed despite setbacks contributes to their resilience. A researcher called Angela Duckworth talks about resilience as ‘grit’ and claims that grit is the most important characteristic (more important than talent or intelligence) as an indicator of whether a person will achieve success. You can even check out how gritty you are here.


I can’t write a blog about confidence and resilience without mentioning mindset. I believe that growth mindset is the value that connects, accelerates and amplifies both confidence and resilience.

Growth mindset it the belief that you can improve your intelligence and results through hard work and application. Failure and setbacks are seen as learning that leads to future success. Growth mindset thinkers chalk up failures as learning opportunities and use the lessons to build back bigger and better. Accepting challenges and viewing setbacks as positives builds both resilience and confidence.

“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” Nelson Mandela

In summary

Resilience is the capacity to recover or bounce back more quickly. When you have the confidence in yourself that you can bounce back and the belief that setbacks are actually learnings on the way to greater success, the setbacks themselves build your confidence. This is the importance and the connection between growth mindset, confidence and resilience.

What do you think? If you’re interested in building your confidence, check out my ebook ‘How to have confidence at work.’ If you’d like to work with me on your confidence and resilience drop me a line and we can arrange a time to chat.

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