New Mantra

Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage,

Just literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery,

And I promise you

Something great will come of it.

~Matt Damon as Benjamin Mee

I saw this quote on Stephanie Saye’s blog and loved it immediately. Her May 18 story about using it to give her son courage is well worth reading here.

The whole quote is too long, and it’s the second line which really speaks to me, so I’m adopting this for my mantra: sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery. Even before I read this on Stephanie’s blog, I had already found that it works wonders for me to tell myself that I just have to speak up for a few seconds and then I can drop out of sight again. However, the quote brings this idea into much sharper focus.

Last week, I attended a writing workshop. The first evening, all fifty students and five teachers sat in a circle. Guess what? We not only had to introduce ourselves, but we had to say the first name of every person who came before us! As luck would have it, I sat three spots from the end of this conga line, so I had to remember and say fifty-two names out loud, plus something about myself. On top of that, as I listened as carefully as I could to everyone else, I was dreading my turn and wondering what to say to get through it as quickly as possible.

The room was friendly. A few people had trouble and those sitting near them helped them. I told myself that I just had to speak up for a short time, and I could do it. When my turn came, I managed to speak loudly and actually said more than I had ever expected about myself. I even remembered all of the names I had been reciting over and over, and poked fun at my own fear. It turned into a wonderful experience as the week went on, since I often knew their names and they didn’t know mine. I realized that, once their turn was over, they were so relieved that they stopped paying attention. I had been in one of the best spots, instead of the worst. That 20 seconds of embarrassed bravery served me well!

I tried this idea out a few times during the workshop, when I had to share. It works! The quote solidifies the idea. Just take a deep breath, say it to yourself, and get through whatever you need to do. You might turn bright red, but it’s okay. Everyone else gets nervous, too.

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  1. #1 by Stephanie Saye on May 21, 2012 - 2:25 pm

    Reblogged this on Stephanie Saye and commented:
    Inspired by my latest blog entry, writer Ann Stanley has already put “20 seconds of insane courage” to good use this week. Not only did it help her muster up the kahunas to speak confidently at a writer’s conference, but she’s adopting it as her new “mantra” in life. Way to go, Ann, and know that you are in good company. I’ll definitely be working this mantra tonight when I speak at a local book club, which will also have a reporter and photographer in attendance. 20 seconds of insane courage here I come!

    • #2 by annstanleywriting on May 21, 2012 - 2:58 pm

      Thanks for the reblog, Stephanie! Have a great time tonight! Sell lots and lots of books! You can do it.

      • #3 by Stephanie Saye on May 22, 2012 - 10:13 am

        You are very welcome, Ann! I couldn’t help but reblog it when I read about your new mantra! The book club visit went very well last night – everyone had already bought the book so it was a great evening of insightful questions and tantalizing discussion!

  2. #4 by Stephanie Saye on May 21, 2012 - 1:34 pm

    Ann, this is great. Just great! I so love this example of how you are putting this into action. I’m going to be putting this mantra to use too when I visit a book club tonight and discuss Little 15. And there will be local press there! 20 seconds of insane courage here I come!

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