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20 Seconds of Insane Courage

Be brave, not save

One of the pivotal lines in the otherwise forgettable 2010 Matt Damon movie We Bought a Zoo is where Damon’s title character, Benjamin Mee, is recounting how he met his wife to his children, and how he psyches himself up for it. In it, he says:

You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.

As a Leadership Team at work, one of our team mantras is “Be Brave Enough” and it’s one that on the surface seems a bit ‘meh’ but really resonates with me.

If you believe most things that come out of Hollywood, then the image of bravery and courage would probably be 6ft 5, close to 300lbs with bulging muscles and responds to the moniker “Rock”.

Yet we each have to make courageous decisions every day. And often it’s not about an overt act. The courage to make a change, for instance, is one that rarely manifests itself in any outward gesture, but can be the bravest thing one does.

Choosing to have that conversation, for instance. How often do we shy away from confronting an issue because we don’t want to ‘make someone feel uncomfortable’ and use the cop out that ‘I don’t like confrontation’. I don’t actually know of anyone who actually likes confrontation so using that excuse seems more to me like chickening out (and yes, I’ve chickened out more than my fair share of the time).

When I’ve caught myself though, and forced myself to go through with it, I often find the voices in my head have made the situation worse than it turned out to be. It’s almost as if the mind actively works to sabotage itself.

Perhaps the most courageous thing one can do is to admit they need to make a change – irrespective of what the change is. To do so requires acknowledging the status quo doesn’t work, recognises that they need to change and, potentially, realising that where they’re going (through the change process) will probably result in exposing themselves to criticism.

Being brave enough, to us, means embracing that sense of vulnerability, because it leads to growth and learning. None of us is perfect and yet we often choose to stay in the ‘safe zone’ and hide our imperfections out of fear of being judged. Being brave enough means labelling that fear, naming it, and working to overcome it.

J.K. Rowling says in the first Harry Potter movie “Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself”, so call it. Name your fear. You don’t have to shout it from the mountain tops, but name it for yourself. Being brave enough to do that is the first step. Literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.

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