By Telana Simpson

One of my favourite movie quotes is from the film “We Bought a Zoo”.  It’s where Benjamin, played by Matt Damon, says:

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

We need more of these short bursts of bravery in our lives (and in our world!) and then we will find that the most amazing things start to unfold.

Conversations that Count

An area where we often need to start more, is the area of having courageous conversations.  These types of conversations are the ones that ultimately count, and that mark the significant moments in our lives and relationships.

They are the moments when we find our voice and speak up for ourselves, or for others who don’t have a voice.  Or when are face our reality and are true to our feelings, and ask for what we really want or need.  They are the moments where we put our decisions into action, and where we start or end or change something.

These are the moments where we give ourselves a chance to experience an improvement in our situation.

At the same time, they can be the scariest, most risky moments too, precisely because of the vulnerability involved, and because things will change.  And with that possibility, our emotions are heightened.

To help us start a courageous conversation – that is before we even find those twenty seconds of insane bravery – we can do some preparation to help us.

Preparation Steps


The more we are clear on the benefits of having conversations that count, the more we find the energy and vulnerable strength it requires to have these conversations.

So check your views on confrontation.  Any time we start a crucial conversation, we are asking the other person to come face to face with the issue, that is, to confront what we need to discuss.  And this is what usually intensifies the emotions, and makes the moment uncomfortable.  Hence we prefer to avoid confrontations and see them as bad and awful.

Remember though that to resolve something, or have a need met, we need to improve the understanding between all the parties involved.  That only comes from talking it through.  Communication is needed to check facts, gain clarification, share views, and find solutions.

When we are clear that the benefits from these conversations that count far outweigh the moment of discomfort that we will experience, we can then look at our intentions.


Being clear on what we are trying to achieve by having a tough conversation, helps us with how to start wording the conversation.

It’s much easier on the receiving end of a conversation when you hear that the person confronting you is trying to improve the relationship, understand you more or has a need they would like to ask you to meet, than when it comes across as you are being attacked or pushed to do what they want.

So, get clear on what you are trying to achieve by having this important conversation.  The reason is not to change the other person, or to make them do something you want – if that is what comes to mind, I would invite you to go a bit deeper.  Often we think that the presenting issue is the reason, yet usually it’s just the symptom.

What would you get if that person changed in the way you think you want them to change?  That higher reason is more likely a truer intention, as it would be around a need like you feeling more heard or seen, or improving the connection you have with the person, or having more freedom in your life.

When we are clear on our higher intention, we are more open to the many possible ways that that intention can be met.   And if we are more open, we are less likely to come across as attacking or controlling.

Also, usually the solution will not be what we initially thought it would be.  Together with the other person, if we come up with a way forward that works for both of us, we are more likely to actually live that new understanding in our relationship, and experience the improvement we hoped for.

Twenty Seconds

Then with this openness, and sense of purpose for the conversation, we will feel more motivated to have the conversation and more confident to actually start it.

This is when we need to muster up enough courage to just start the conversation, remembering that we need only twenty seconds of bravery to open our mouths and start talking.

We can then face the needed few moments of discomfort and get closer to the benefits of a shared understanding and way forward with that significant person.

Courage Muscle

Courage is like a muscle that needs exercise, and the more we do brief little exercises, the more that muscle strengthens, and we start to become more courageous.

This increase in courage strength then makes it just a little bit easier the next time we need to be brave.

Like any exercise, knowing how to do the exercise and doing a few warm-up stretches beforehand, goes a long way to getting the most out of that exercise.

Remember your warm-up stretches of keeping the benefits of tough conversations in mind, and accessing your higher intentions, and then the first step is easier.  It then takes just twenty seconds of insane courage to start.

Something great will come of it, I promise you.


About the Author:

Telana-Communication and Relationship CoachTelana is a dynamic transformational Personal Coach who focuses on communicating and relating. She works with people who want to change their lives, specifically to improve their communication skills and relationships and their ability to express themselves verbally, creatively, emotionally and physically. She specialises in self esteem, controlling emotions, overcoming self consciousness and anxiety, handling conflict, fear of confrontation and developing relationships. She is the host of the online TV show “ Let’s Talk Communication”. You can contact her through or Instagram, or tweet her @Telana .