20 Seconds of Insane Courage

Today I want to talk about courage.  I thought it’d be neat to take some time over a handful of mini episodes and give you more of a glimpse into my story and how I got to where I am today. In this episode I’m going to focus on those moments that take great courage. 

If you’ve seen the movie “We Bought A Zoo” with Matt Damon, hopefully you remember the scene where he says, 

“You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, just literally 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery, and I promise you something great will come of it.” ― benjamin mee-we bought a zoo

Watch the Scene 

I love this quote because we can all relate to it! I’m sure there’s been a moment in your life where you wanted to do something or accomplish something, maybe even talk to someone, a stranger, a celebrity, YOUR BOSS! And you felt the fear! But those 20 seconds of insane courage, when you’re RIDICULOUSLY tense, sick to your stomach even….will result in something great! After all, courage isn’t the absence of fear, but it’s doing something DESPITE the fear. 

I certainly don’t consider myself a chronically courageous person, is that even a term?  But I’ve had those moments of fear, knowing that if I didn’t work up the courage, I’d regret it later. Here’s a little more about some of my journey and I hope it helps you dig deep and find the courage YOU need to take YOUR next step!

I was working for a non-profit, as a filmmaker creating promotional pieces, and telling short stories via video.

I remember a “chance” meeting at the post office one day in early spring of 2012 where an old friend asked if I do any freelance work. Up until that point I had only done a random wedding here or there.

However, out of that convo grew my first client! And that conversation led to where I am today.

I remember the excitement and terror of putting together my first proposal, it was for a LOT of work considering the fact that I had a FT job, a wife, and two young kids. I was so nervous, but you know, I got the proposal pieced together and thought, “man, this would be sweet if it comes together - I could really use the extra cash.”

The call came making it official, followed by a signed contract and I about needed to go change my pants - i mean, holy crap, now I’ve got to come good on my word - it’s GO TIME!  It felt like I was on top of the tallest mountain and was about to barf all at the same time, you know? 

I could have said no that day in the Post Office, I could have been modest, or I could have been HONEST and owned the fact that I didn’t have the time of the confidence. Well I’m thrilled to tell you from there things got a little easier, why? Because I had done it. I had lived through one of many moments of courage. Even though it was only once, that FIRST step was a 100% change from where I was, the second, 50% bigger than the last, and increasingly smaller from there.  And you wonder how it is when you look at someone who is so far down the road and think to yourself, “well it easy for them…” and yeah, now it is. Not because taking that first step makes you become FEARLESS but because you experience the truth behind those 20seconds of courage. Ultimately, there are hundreds or thousands of steps and decisions down the line, and those 20 seconds of courage and embarrassing bravery bring you to your next step, your next opportunity.  

Fast forward to 2014 for another “FIRST” for me, another moment of where fear and bravery collide… It’s the story of how i met my first business mentor, Tom.

My boss Mike and I were discussing how we could rally our team and focus on growth. Mike mentioned that he knew a guy who owned his own business who would likely be willing to come do a workshop with our team.So, Mike invited Tom to come up and spend a day with us on a seminar called “Better before Bigger.”  Mike and I had dinner with Tom the night before and that was the first I ever met him. The next day we had an awesome time and everyone really felt positive after our workshop with Tom.  

Now here was my decision time; I knew that i wanted to pick Tom’s brain on a few things that I was thinking about related to growing my freelance opportunities. However, I barely knew the guy, and why would he take the time to talk to me?  Who am I to ask for some time with this successful businessman?! I was held back by the fear of not being smart enough, or successful enough to ask him for his time. 

Anyway, I picked up my phone, with all the fears of the impostor syndrome racing through my head. I asked if he was free that evening for me to ask him a few questions to which he replied, “sure, I’ve got nothing on my agenda.” And so I got my kids to bed and then spent the next 2-3 hrs with Tom, asking question after question, and listening to his feedback. 

You know, as I think about it, the part that took the MOST courage was just asking. Once you get over that first hump, it's either a “yes” or a “no” and from there its easy.  Either, take the “no,” rally and chalk it up as a lesson learned, and another hurdle overcome, or embrace that “yes!” and chase the next step as fast as you can.  Because of just mustering up those 20 seconds of courage, to reach out, despite me being a nobody and lacking the same depth of business knowledge as Tom, I now have a great mentor. And HE SAID YES! All the rejection that went through my head up until the point of asking didn’t even matter. Something great resulted from that text message to Tom. I now not only have a mentor but a GOOD friend who can tell it to me like it is WITHOUT being emotionally wrapped up in my business the way I am. I’ve gained someone I can bounce ideas off of and who can help keep me on the right track, or sometimes its just to encourage me.

More than half of what you do when you’re launching out into ANY new venture is BRAND NEW for you. And it takes courage.  But don’t let the fear hold you back, dig deep, 20 seconds goes by SO fast.  You never know if you don’t ask! That first step feels like a climb, but there is so much more value in not holding back, the process of it all gets easier….because over time you’ll see small acts of bravery overcome your doubts, fears and what if’s. It’s all a mental game.

I hope that these two moments from my journey can encourage you in some way.  The fear won’t go away, it won’t just evaporate, you might just have to do it scared, but as Benjamin Mee said, “I promise you something great will come of it!"