20 Seconds of Courage


Courage is overrated.

At least, overestimated.

You don’t have to live courageously.

In fact, you can be a coward 99.9305556% of the time (to be exact).

You only need to be courageous for 20 seconds at a time.

Those 20 seconds when…

…you pick up the phone to call that “big kahuna” prospect.

…you see your dream client enter the networking meeting.

…you walk up to a circle of strangers and introduce yourself.

…you volunteer to come up on stage.

…you contemplate jumping into the icy cold water.

…you are arguing with your spouse and choose to relent.

…you are slighted and decide to let it go and forgive.

…you know you need to have a tough conversation with a friend.

…you know it’s time to let someone go.

…you need to say “no” even though it will make you unpopular.

…you ready yourself to jump out of the plane.

Each one of those defining moments only requires 20 seconds of real courage at the most.
Once the 20 seconds are over, it’s easy breezy from there.

 “Courage is not simply one of the virtues
but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” —C.S. Lewis

Fear is an illusion.
An illusion can only exist in the absence of reality.
Once reality takes over the illusion dissipates.
Fear mostly comes in anticipation of an experience, not in the experience itself.

Let’s take jumping out of an airplane as an example.
Seymour Epstein of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst conducted a study in which novice jumpers were fitted with heart rate monitors that measured their pulses as their plane climbed upward toward its release point. He found that the jumpers’ heart rates got faster and faster until just before they jumped. But once they were out of the plane, their heart rates declined dramatically.

The most stressful part of the entire experience was the illusion, or anticipation, of the event. Once the reality of the event (free falling) took over, the fear vanished.

Watch a great 47 second clip on the topic from We Bought a Zoo with this month’s cover personality Matt Damon.
Click here to see it.

So what do you do when you hit the wall of fear?
You do this: You shut off your brain, close your eyes, hold your breath (if you need to) and do what every corpuscle of your body insists you don’t—RUN RIGHT AT IT! You’ll break through the wall of fear in less than 20 seconds.

What if you did something you fear three times a day, every day?
Imagine how doing so would multiply your success, lifestyle and prominence in the marketplace.
Think of the breakthroughs you could create.
You could still be a coward 99.9305556% of the time—a really rich and successful coward!

The math: 20 seconds of courage X 3 times a day = 60 seconds. 60 seconds divided by 86,400 seconds in a day = 99.9305556%.

What will you do with your 20 seconds of courage today? Share in the comments section below.




16 responses to “20 Seconds of Courage”

  1. Great post DH!
    I know this works because I did this the first time I met you at Brendon’s event in NYC I told myself “just have the courage to walk over and talk to him.” Before I knew it your awesome warmth and presence showed me the 20 seconds was worth it! Thanks for the lesson!! Corey J

  2. Even though I´ve been in sale for more than 15 years and that for me it is very easy to conect with people… It is very I mean, VERY HARD to make the requiered phone calls to make apoinments.. so I´ve just decided to make this at least 2 times a day… 40 seconds of bravery to improve my sales…


    Ps. This movie is awsome I love it, the story, the caracters, the actors all of it is wonderfull.. Thanks for sharing.

  3. This reminds me a misperception that many folks (with the best of intentions) often cling to – That real change (personal or professional) will take months, years, and maybe even a lifetime.

    That is a worn-out myth!

    Similar to the example of jumping out of an airplane, courageous change can be initiated the instant one takes the first step. (What may take forever is getting to the point of action.)

  4. 20 Seconds in my life, where decided to switch it totally to the oposite… a really deep an serious decision… and I left the dark side of the moon. And I was really good in showing everyone my dark side… But now I am a 2%er… I am one of 2% of people who survive this life where I stuck in. But this decision was a development of nearly ten years…
    and now it more and more gets easier having courage in 20 seconds time… That’s why I feel real gratitude.

  5. This fact is so true……….in my own case, it took me 20 seconds to make a call I’ve been dreading for 4 months, and mavelous result was that I was able to start my industrial training in my dream company. Cheers!

  6. Hi Daren

    Excellent examples of feel the fear, but do it anyway.

    I know when asked to speak how it can be a nerve racking experience….

    Sometimes we can turn up to a meeting, and get asked to speak – so maybe 20 minutes before starting…..

    That would seem terrible, but I think, at the moment, being asked to speak with a weeks notice, that is a more nerve racking experience.

    You have too much time to manifest the fears……

    Thanks for the list, it brings some clarity about these things, and indeed, often, once you start “the thing! the fear gets swept away…..

    Posted By Jon Barry of JonBarry.co.uk


  7. Thanks Darren, love your blog and I shared it on my sites. Because of your summit I have learned to schedule my tweets and FB posts and it has freed up so much time I often don’t know what to do with the time. Now I just need the courage to do what needs to be done. Hope to meet you again and learn more from you. One of your biggest fans

  8. I heard a preacher preach on this idea recently (and he played that clip from the movie). I think about working out too… I can push through these mountain climbers for 20 more seconds!

    I have the pictures of my kids on the bookshelves across my office. When I get nervous to make that call to the ‘Big Kahuna’ I look at them and think that 10 years from now I’ll regret not making calls to Big Kahunas. I’ll never regret actually making them, even if I bomb on a couple of them.

  9. Darren,

    Excellent post and so true.

    The most defining time in my life all happened in 20 seconds. Back in 1976, when my girl friend unexpectedly told me she was pregnant at age 17, within in 20 seconds, I responded, yes, I’m in. Marry me.

    We’re now married 37 years, have 2 beautiful children and Deb inspired me to achieve massive success. Best defining 20 seconds in my life.

    Have a great week!

  10. I watched We Bought a Zoo with my daughers a few months back and can honestly say that moment in the movie is one I will never forget. It made me realize how true it is that 20 seconds is all you need. 20 seconds made me confront a failing marriage. 20 seconds made me register for my first Ironman. 20 seconds made me accept a career change. This is true in any area of your life. Go for it!

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