Have you ever felt your heart pounding so forcefully it feels like it might just beat right out of your chest?

For many people I work with that’s the feeling they get while waiting at the side of the stage or the back of the room to be introduced to speak. Every internal thought process tells them they should pack up and run the opposite direction. Can you relate?

In the 2011 movie ‘We Bought a Zoo’ there is a captivating moment between Benjamin Dee (Matt Damon) and his son Dylan, who is facing a crisis of confidence. You might recognise these words:

“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.”

Take a look at the video if you’d like to experience the moment.

As leaders we face these crucial decision points all the time. Finding ourself in the midst of moments that really matter and feeling tempted to run the opposite direction. Caught in a crisis of confidence. 

What would it look like in these moments to choose just twenty seconds of insane courage?

Have you noticed in almost every epic movie battle scene, on the cusp of combat, one leader steps out in front of the army to rally the troops? There is always a moment right before the battle when the troops need inspiration. It doesn’t happen in the midst of the fighting out on the field; it’s in those few moments before battle.


Because that’s the moment when imagination runs wild and our fears are loudest. When you’re in the fight, your training and preparation takes over.

It can be easy to look at a presentation through the lens of twenty or thirty minutes of fear. But I’ve found that we really just need twenty seconds of courage. If you can just do that, your preparation and training will kick in. 

In her book Rising Strong, Brené Brown writes that:

‘We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time’.

Courage is not the absence of fear, it’s choosing to act in spite of it. Can you do that? Just twenty seconds of insane courage? If you do I promise something great will come of it.