Every Success Begins with Courage

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Over the weekend, there was news of a retiree in Florida who was walking his puppy along a body of water when a small alligator shot up on the bank, grabbed the puppy, and ran back into the water. The elderly man jumped in the water, dragged the alligator to shore, and wrestled the puppy from its jaws, all without losing his cigar. I’d say he gets the badass of the year award.

The story had a happy ending. The puppy escaped with a minor injury, the man had a few lacerations from the alligator’s teeth, and the alligator is back in the water, a little more leery of anything that’s tough enough to strut around on two legs. I’d say that’s a win all the way around.

I was listening to a motivational CD last night where the speaker quoted a line from a movie that summed up this story perfectly … “All it takes is twenty seconds of insane courage.” Okay, in this case, I’d say it was more like a half-second, which makes it all the more insane. But you don’t always have time to think. Where alligators are concerned, that’s probably a good thing.

Some of you probably remember that quote as coming from the movie, “We Bought a Zoo.” The line was spoken by Matt Damon as he encouraged his son to throw caution to the wind and express his affection to the girl of his dreams. As one who’s been there in years gone by, I can certainly relate. Trust me when I say I crashed & burned on that one several times.

But the premise holds true through a lot of things in life. Fear is the greatest obstacle holding us back from accomplishing a lot of our dreams. Even if that dream is simply to get the landlord to accept a late payment, it takes a mountain of courage sometimes to pick up the phone and make that call. But it takes twenty seconds (or less) to dial the number.

I’ve never been good when it comes to the phone. I’ll do anything to accomplish my goal without having to talk to anybody. And those who know me probably find that really hard to believe, because once I start talking, I never shut up. But real people don’t respond with, “Press 1 to listen to obnoxious music for an hour while we decide whether to answer your call.”

Of course, they do this with repeated assurances that your call really is important and will be answered in the order in which it was received. And don’t dare bump a button on the phone or mutter soft curses out of sheer frustration, because it’ll respond with, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t understand your request.  Please check your attitude and try again later.” And then it hangs up.

Okay, I’m drifting way off topic. We were talking about courage. Specifically, how twenty seconds of courage is all it takes to begin moving toward your goal. Courage to do what? That depends on what you hope to accomplish. But regardless, until you take that first step, nothing happens, good or bad. A year from now, you’ll still be thinking about it.

And the problem with that is we don’t always have a year to debate and build courage. When an alligator grabs your puppy, you have microseconds. Other problems may leave a little more breathing room, but sooner or later you have to take the plunge. There is no other option if you want anything to change.

Thomas Jefferson once said if you want something you’ve never had you must be willing to do something you’ve never done. There’s no other way. That may mean asking a friend for help, inviting a customer to your store, sharing a business presentation, taking a new job, moving to a new city, or a hundred other things. And they all begin with twenty seconds of courage.

If you’ve been putting off that conversation with the boss, schedule the meeting. If you’ve been thinking of asking somebody on a date, dial their number. If you want to share a business idea with a potential partner, make the invitation. It takes twenty seconds to initiate action on any of these goals, but once you take that first step, it’s that much easier to continue.

We all like to think we’re fearless, or at least not too easily intimidated. But the thing we fear most is whatever our mind conjures up in the moments before we need to take action. It may be as real as a hungry alligator, or as imaginary as a trusted friend waiting for the opportunity to humiliate you. But until you muster up that twenty seconds of courage, you’ll never know.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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