Uncommon and Monumental Acts of Courage Happen in 12 Seconds or Less

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Courage is formally defined as “the ability to do something that frightens you” or as “having strength in the face of pain or grief”. We all have the ability to do the things we’re afraid of. What we often lack is the willingness. Typically we lack the willingness to do the things that frighten us, well for starters — because our brains are hardwired to keep us safe and out of danger. But the system was designed to keep us away from predators and things out to kill us. Very few of the things your average person is afraid to face on a day to day basis are life threatening. Our unwillingness to face them or to act is born out of how we build these events or tough conversations up in our heads before initiating — which sadly is the reason we often fail to ever actually initiate.

I write all of this based off of experience. I always hesitated to act. To have the tough conversation or to face an uncomfortable or potentially awkward situation. Mainly because of how much time I would spend ruminating in my head about them rather than simply acting. When I finally began to just act, I came to a life changing realization. These moments we’re afraid to face, ones with the ability to be complete game changers, typically take twelve seconds or less of so called bravery.

Think about an act have you hesitated on as of late. Which event have you blown way out of proportion in your head and given a power over you it’s not worthy of? Asking your boss for the more than deserved raise you’ve rightfully earned? Asking the good looking lady/guy you really like out for dinner or coffee? The hard parts of both of those conversations would take you less than 12 seconds when you get right down to it. And by hard part, I mean just getting the words out of your mouth. Save the preamble, get right to the point and flat out ask. Why spend weeks trying to build up the courage to do or ask something that would take you less than twenty percent of a minute to carry out? You could not only face your fear but also achieve your desired results in twelve seconds or less.

We blow the things we fear way out of proportion as we unnecessarily stress about how a certain scenario may or may not play out. It is our (often false) perceptions of these things we fear to do, or say that creates the resistance that stops us from acting. As Dr. Wayne Dyer once brilliantly stated “Nobody knows enough to be a pessimist”. None of us are fortune tellers. We can’t know for sure how a situation will work out for us if we don’t act.

It would take a kid being bullied approximately seven seconds to stand up to the one picking on them. I have a close family member who is terrified of pools because they’re not a strong swimmer. To hop in a pool takes probably less than two seconds. Courage is not the absence of fear but the willingness to act in the face of it, despite it. I spent so much time afraid to act. I lost out on so many opportunities because I hadn’t yet come to my twelve second rule realization that has been a true epiphany for me. Courage happens in twelve second spurts. Continually acting in those moments we’re afraid to or to speak up when something primal inside of us is pleading us not to, time and time again. Until it’s just in our nature to do so, a habit we’ve built.This is what builds strength in the face of pain or grief and how the truly brave are born.

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