Confidence is NOT the opposite of humility

Do you struggle with the balance between confidence and humility – at work and in life?  This blog post will help.



One of the characteristics I admire most in others is humility.  It’s also one of my core values – something I try to embody every day.

Humility allows me to be a lifelong learner.  It gives me the opportunity to see new perspectives and try new things every day.  It takes the ego out of the equation.

But for the longest time, I thought humility also meant having to diminish my shine.  I thought it was completely incompatible with confidence.  I thought, if you’re humble, you can’t also be the most self-assured, most prominent voice in the room. 

That meant that, while I was learning and listening, I was also taking a backseat, behind the table instead of at the table, next to my coworkers.  Not speaking up even when I had ideas.  Frequently feeling like an impostor.

Does this resonate with you?



Or maybe you’re reading this with the opposite perspective.  Maybe you value confidence most in others and yourself, because it’s gotten you far at work and in life.

You know self-confidence is important because it helps others feel confident in you.  Self-confidence helps you try new, hard things, because you know that you’ll find a way to succeed.

And if this is your perspective, you may also believe that humility can counteract many of those positives.  You may fear that looking too humble can make you seem meek, unintelligent, or weak.  So you avoid projecting “not knowing” at all costs.

Maybe that resonates with you more.


It’s not a seesaw!

But both perspectives may be skewed.

The “seesaw” between humility and confidence is one we’ve actually just manufactured in our own heads.  It doesn’t exist.  It shouldn’t exist.  Humility and confidence actually go together beautifully, and when combined, they make for the most balanced, well-rounded leaders.

Humility is not the opposite of confidence.

Confidence is not the opposite of humility.

There is no “sweet spot” you need to find between the two; they go hand in hand.

Here’s what I mean.

  • CONFIDENCE is all about YOU.  It’s the belief that you can accomplish hard things, even if you don’t yet know how.
  • HUMILITY is about the TOOLS required.  It’s knowing that you might not yet have the right tools or knowledge to get the job done.

Let me share an example.

In one of my roles at Amazon, I led a team that created private label products – like AmazonBasics batteries and charging cables.

In that role, I was asked to take on a BIG new project – to lead pricing strategies for Private Brands globally.  As part of that, I’d have to work with Amazon’s Chief Economist to build a new platform through which all Private Brand products would be priced.

I wasn’t an economist; I didn’t have any experience developing pricing platforms, and this was my first time leading a global team.

The butterflies in my stomach were fluttering pretty strongly. 

But then my CONFIDENT HUMILITY kicked in.

My CONFIDENT side knew that I would be able to get this project done.  Somehow, some way, I knew I had it in me to do this.  I was confident I could do it because of what I bring to the table, all of my combined experiences and my core values.  Because of who I am inside.  I knew I was chosen for a reason, even if I didn’t know the HOW quite yet.

My HUMBLE side knew I didn’t yet have the knowledge or tools to get this project done, and that I had a LOT to learn along the way. 

Both sides coexisted peacefully.

Confidence kept me from crumbling under the pressure and enormity of what I needed to learn.  Humility allowed me to actually do the learning, so I could be successful.

The two go hand-in-hand.  And when you allow confidence and humility to co-exist in this way, there’s nothing that you can’t do.



Curious to learn more and to dig deeper into this topic?  Need more 1:1 guidance? Click here to schedule some time with me — I’d love to chat and help you love what you do.

Haven Coaching