Revisiting 20 Seconds of Insane Courage

One of my sons was watching the movie “We Bought a Zoo” yesterday and it reminded me of this post from over a year ago. I looked it up and after re-reading it, I thought it was worth sharing again. For those of you who have been with me for a while, I hope you don’t mind me re-using this post. For my newer readers, I think you’ll enjoy this one. It’s one of my favorites.

From September 2014:

I must confess, I’ve never seen the movie “We Bought a Zoo.”  But a friend was telling me about the movie so I researched to learn more about it.  It’s a 2011 film starring Matt Damon, in which he is a recently widowed single dad.  Wanting a fresh start for his family, he decides they need to move. Although reluctant, he succumbs to his young daughter’s wishes and buys a house with an old zoo and moves there with his two children.

In one particular scene, Matt Damon talks to his son about courage. The teenage son expresses to Damon how he was embarrassed to say something to a girl, but also embarrassed if he didn’t say something.  Damon’s response was powerful, “You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, just literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery, and I promise you, something great will come of it.”

Think for a second what we could do with insane courage, with just 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery.  Would we share an idea we think is kind of crazy?  Would we ask a question that we think might be perceived as ridiculous? Would we take a risk that we would otherwise be too afraid to take?  Would we express feelings that we’ve always kept to ourselves?

Leadership takes great courage. Often times, it requires us to make tough decisions, to have difficult conversations, and to model our values and beliefs for others to see.  There are many times leadership will take insane courage and more than 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery.  But 20 seconds is a start.  So look for times when you can use your insane courage. Think about things you’ve always wanted to do or try, but are just too afraid.  Think about sharing an idea that you’ve been keeping secret because you aren’t sure if it’s a good one. Think about sharing your feelings with a friend, even if it means you might get hurt.  Be vulnerable. Be courageous. Find your 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery and really live this week! Go out and do something insanely courageous, and maybe, just maybe, something great will come of it!

Thanks for reading,


P.S. – Check out my website at and follow me on Twitter, @jvearle.

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