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20 Seconds of Courage

January 15, 2012
By

Photo by Bright Tal

I took my daughter to see We Bought a Zoo the other night.  My wife and son had seen it the week before and really liked it, so on their recommendation we ventured out to the movies.

As a film, it was good.  Not great, but very good.  I found myself teary-eyed a few times (I’m becoming sentimental with age).  As a father, it struck a chord with me.  It challenged me in how I should communicate with my sons; how I should listen.  However, the biggest takeaway for me was the “20 seconds of courage.”

I can think of numerous times when I chose not to do something because I was afraid.  I was afraid of rejection.  Afraid of failure.  Afraid of the unknown.  I really hate fear.  Of course fear is not all bad.  It helps guide us so that we don’t do something so risky as to meet an early demise.  But it’s also that thing that holds us back from taking the appropriate risk.  That risk that elevates us to success.  Managing that fear really shouldn’t be that difficult, but it often is.

In We Bought a Zoo, Matt Damon and Thomas Haden Church’s characters talk about how it takes “20 seconds of courage” to propel yourself forward past the fear.  I like this idea because it’s so finite.  All you have to muster up is a third of a minute’s courage to take on the task that otherwise seems so daunting.  And if you survive the 20 seconds, you’re either on your way to success or ready to move on and face the next challenge.

It’s that 20 seconds the pushes us guys forward to ask out the beautiful girl.  It’s that 20 seconds that helps us make a phone call that we’ve been avoiding.  It’s that 20 seconds that allows us to walk on stage and talk to tens, hundreds, or thousands of people.

Many times in my life I have conjured up those 20 seconds of courage.  And sadly, many times I have not.  This film reminded me of many of those missed opportunities.  I hate that I’ve missed out and never want to miss out again.  Will I succeed?  I’m counting on more times than not.

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