- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
20 Seconds of Insane Courage
Shoulda Coulda Woulda
Fear can be crippling! When it strikes, and it strikes everyone to varying degrees, it can bring the strongest person to their knees, or leave an eloquent spokesperson babbling like a baby. The stomach does backflips, your hands begin to tremor, the skin gets clammy, and all semblance of cool and calm head south for the winter.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
How many opportunities have fallen by the wayside because of fear? How many dreams died on the vine because fear reared its ugly head and once again rendered our hopes as insignificant? How many sure things, absolute guarantees, withered from lack of attention, all due to fear of failure?
The Birth of an Idea
I recently watched a movie called “We Bought A Zoo” with Matt Damon, a charming little Disney film about a family that said goodbye to the conventional and embraced the serendipity when they bought a zoo and then restored it. During the movie, Damon has a talk with his teenage son about finding the courage to tell a girl how he feels about her. Damon then says, ““All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it.”
I loved that line; it’s one of those lines in a movie that just slaps you alongside the head because it is so simplistically profound.
You do not have to conquer fear for a lifetime; all you need to do is conquer it for twenty seconds, and something great will happen. Wow!
I am reminded of a saying that I have heard thousands of times around the halls of AA, that to stay sober we just do it one day at a time, and then another day, and before we know it the days have become weeks, and the weeks months, and…..
You do not have to conquer all fear for your entire lifetime; you simply learn to conquer it in twenty second intervals, and once it has happened, you do it again, and again, until fear is no longer the controlling force in your life.
Trust Me, It Works
This writer is living proof that this works, and I’ll share some events in my life that should convince you.
I had wanted to be a teacher from an early age; I would not be able to tell you why, but my earliest memories are of me wishing I could teach kids. As I grew older I realized there was one major problem with this choice of career…..I was terrified to speak in front of other people! Yes, I was shy, but I was shy to the level of terror when it came to addressing a group of people. Tongue-tied does not even begin to explain the physical changes that would occur when I was confronted by more than one person and expected to speak.
I would literally become sick to my stomach. I would literally begin to shake, and when I did speak it was stuttering which only made things worse. Quite a roadblock for someone who wanted to speak to a classroom full of students daily.
I managed to push my fear to the back burner while attending college, until the day came when I was expected to do my student teaching assignment in a local high school. I remember driving to the high school the first day of my assignment, naturally sick to my stomach, and as I approached the classroom my knees were wobbly. I detoured to the bathroom, promptly vomited, and headed back to class.
Twenty seconds of insane courage! I could have gone home; I could have chalked it all up to bad judgment and picked a different career. Somehow I gathered the courage to stand before those students and do my first lesson, and in so doing my life changed. Eighteen years of teaching followed; eighteen years of wonderful memories, and all because I found those twenty seconds of courage.
I first met the love of my life, Bev, when I was working in a UHaul business. She came in one day and I was rendered practically speechless. I knew I had to find some way to know this woman better. I knew, instinctively, that she was someone I wanted in my life. Unfortunately, my desire did not translate into words to that effect, and I allowed her to leave the business without me transmitting any signals that might indicate to her that I liked her.
Five different times she came in after that, and five different times I failed to find the courage to talk to her, and then one day she was gone. A month went by, and then another and another, and no Bev! From November to February I went to work each day wondering if I would get another chance.
Then one day, there she was, and although my stomach was once again doing flipflops, and sweat was pouring from my forehead, I managed to ask her if she would have lunch with me.
We have been together now for five years, and we will be together for the rest of our lives.
Twenty seconds of insane courage!
I have two friends in the writing community who, in the last year, quit their full-time jobs so that they could write full-time. Let me repeat that for you….they quit full-time jobs with benefits so that they could write full time, no guaranteed pay and no benefits! I wonder if they were afraid before they did that. Duh! They had to have been scared to death and yet….they did it!
I am in contact with both of them daily, and neither of them regrets the decision. In fact, they are both loving life and excited about the possibilities that are before them. Sha and Cyndi, I salute you!
Twenty seconds of insane courage!
Two years ago, almost to the day, I was sitting in a faculty meeting after school. The principal decided that it was my turn to get castrated before the rest of the faculty. Now I don’t mind some constructive criticism, but this principal had been making life hell for all the teachers by constantly criticizing us, and on that particular day she decided it was my turn to be sliced and diced.
I listened to it for about five minutes, and during those five minutes I kept asking myself why I didn’t just walk out. I had taught for eighteen years, had accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish, was sixty-two years old, and I wanted to write for a living. Why was I listening to this woman skewer me in front of my peers?
It took me twenty seconds to stand up, grab my keys from my pocket, toss them in the principal’s lap, and walk out of an unacceptable situation.
Twenty seconds of insane courage!
Let's Chat About Opportunities Wasted
How about you? Have you overcome fear 20 seconds at a time?
And Now It Is Your Turn
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
~ Mark Twain
How about you? Is there something you have continually put off because of fear? Maybe you haven’t seen an old friend or family member because of tensions between you. Perhaps you have contemplated a career change, but you just haven’t found the courage to do it yet.
Maybe you have a special someone in your life who you would like to date, but you have held back because you were afraid of the outcome. Is there a book you want to write but fear and insecurity have kept you from doing so? Is there a new town you want to move to, or have you considered starting over in a new area?
I know for a fact that sitting back, years from now, wishing you had done something that you wanted badly, leaves you with a terrible empty feeling. I know for a fact that life is too short to have regrets based on shoulda, coulda, and woulda! I know for a fact that succumbing to fear leaves one with feelings of self-loathing and disappointment.
It does not have to be! All it takes is twenty seconds of insane courage! Forget about the outcome and listen to your heart. Whatever it is that you want so badly…..do it! Swallow your fear, walk forward on wobbly knees, and grab the brass ring that has been waiting for you. You get one chance at life; seventy or eighty years, on average, to answer the song that is within you. Don’t waste that chance!
Twenty seconds of insane courage…..something great just might come of it!
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)