Considering how much I read, it’s ironic that one of my first insights on leadership came from the 2011 movie, We Bought a Zoo.
Throughout the movie, a frequent motif is acting in ‘20 seconds of crazy courage.’
Impactful? Most definitely.
In my own life, I recently witnessed a bemusing example.
Sitting down on a bench outside SELU’s Student Union, I took some time to pause and journal.
While I was writing, a girl—joking around with her friends—performed a back handspring in the grass near their table. While perhaps a little odd, I didn’t even give it a second thought.
Someone else did, though. Emerging from the Union, this guy just started slow-clapping really loudly. In a jesting tone, he shouted, “Wow! Great job! That’s really impressive.”
At this point, everyone in the area is looking over, watching this interaction, faces lit with curiosity. With all these eyes on her—and the unexpected nature of his compliment—the hand-springing girl blushed.
His tone still playful, he continued: “You should teach me how to do that sometime!”
Regaining her composure, she began to play along. Matching his jest, she waved him over.
“Uh. Actually, maybe not. I’d break my neck!”
With that, he skirted back inside the union—a goofy smile across his face. She—laughing—returned to her friends. Those of us who witnessed this interaction all chuckled, bemused, before returning to our respective activities. And so, the world went back to normal.
This entire interaction lasted some 30 seconds.
Was it frivolous? Absolutely.
Did he establish himself as a confident guy while making everyone laugh? Yep!
Could he have gotten that girl's phone number? I surely think so.
His story is one overt example. Acting in 20 seconds of crazy courage is rarely so apparent and out in the open. Most of the time, it’s as simple as raising your hand to ask a question or summoning the courage to say hi to someone new.
Acting in 20 seconds of crazy courage once isn’t likely to change your life, but leaders internalize this mindset, gain confidence, and steadily begin taking bolder steps.
So look around in your life. Take a small step, just 20 seconds of crazy courage, and let me know how it goes!