Change Your Life in 20 Seconds

dreamstime_xs_8497557My daughter and I went to see the movie We Bought a Zoo yesterday.  She and her friends loved it so much they clapped spontaneously at least 3 times during the movie, as did I right along with them.

It warmed my heart to see three 6th grade girls so moved and inspired.  They didn’t even seem to mind that we were the only ones clapping either.

In the movie, Benjamin Mee, the unlikely zookeeper, shares the most important thing he learned from his brother.  I may not have the exact phrasing, but he said something like this:

“All you need is 20 seconds of courage and a lot of hope and you can do something magical.”

Amazingly simple.  Incredibly powerful.

As a new year begins this thought continues to is run through my mind.  We can spend so much time thinking about and planning for a new year.  The turning of the clock to January 1st brings with it a magical sense of a clean slate.

This year we all get a fresh chance to do better and be better.

For at least a moment the notion that “this could be my best year” ever seems entirely possible.

Yet it is the moments we cannot possibly plan for that can make all the difference and can be the turning points and possibly even the source of magic in our lives.

In an instant there can be one of those opportunities to do or say something courageous to make a difference or to take one giant step closer to turning a possibility into a reality.

Whatever your goals and dreams are for 2012 I encourage you to be on the lookout for those moments of opportunity to be courageous…and to take them!

In the language of “Random Acts of Leadership” I call these moments of courage opportunities to commit an act of leadership.  Whether you see yourself as a leader or not you can commit acts of leadership that can profoundly shape the future.  Promise yourself you will not just to see the opportunities, but that you will seize them.

There are 31,536,000 seconds in an ordinary year.  Since 2012 is a leap year you have an extra 86,400 seconds this year.  That’s over a million and a half 20 second opportunities to make something magical happen in your life or the lives of others.

All it takes is 20 seconds to speak up and be heard, to step up and be seen, to stand up and be known in order to make a difference in whatever matters most to you.

May your year be filled with moments worth clapping for!


Enter A Comment

Shawn Murphy   |   01 January 2012   |   Reply

Amazing what an extra day can give us. Nicely framed, Susan. Many of us wish for more time. Well, you just reminded us that we got our wish this year. Good on ya for asking us to rise to the occasion and be bold.

Susan Mazza   |   02 January 2012   |   Reply

Maybe time really is on our side…if we choose to use it wisely 🙂 Thanks for being my first commenter of the new year Shawn!

Suchitra Mishra (@suchimishra)   |   02 January 2012   |   Reply

Hello Susan,

The best “new year” post I have read so far. Loved the way you presented this. It really does take 20 secs to stand up and be brave.


Susan Mazza   |   02 January 2012   |   Reply

Thank you very much Suchitra!

Ted   |   30 June 2015   |   Reply

. Your favorite jftoutscaiiin appeared to be on the internet the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get irked while people consider worries that they just do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

Heather Burke   |   02 January 2012   |   Reply

I really enjoyed this, very moving. Thank you!

Susan Mazza   |   02 January 2012   |   Reply

You are most welcome Heather. Appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment – hope to see you again!

Amber-Lee (@girlygrizzly)   |   02 January 2012   |   Reply

Haven’t seen the movie yet, we will buy it when it comes available, but this (!) I love it! It will be my first for 2012 to read daily… “All you need is 20 seconds of courage and a lot of hope and you can do something magical.”

Thank you!

Susan Mazza   |   03 January 2012   |   Reply

Awesome idea to read this daily and get that mental nudge to be bold! Happy New Year Amber-Lee

Jen Kuhn   |   02 January 2012   |   Reply

Hi Susan,
I saw the movie with my sister and 7 year old niece. I was inspired by that same line, and it sparked a lively conversation.
Thank you for doing all of the math, and reminding us of the time we DO have to make a difference. It really doesn’t take much time, but it usually takes courage.
Cheers to 20 seconds of courage!

Susan Mazza   |   03 January 2012   |   Reply

Yes, cheers to 20 seconds of courage! Thanks for stopping by Jen

Erin Schreyer   |   03 January 2012   |   Reply

Just 20 seconds….and my word for 2012 is COURAGE…

I love this reminder and encouragement to GO for it! Our year will only be what we make of it!!!

Thanks, Susan – great post, as always!

Susan Mazza   |   03 January 2012   |   Reply

Thanks Erin. Awesome that your word for 2012 is courage! You might appreciate this poem I wrote a while back called A Moment of Courage that describes what that 20 seconds of courage feels like!


Mark Oakes   |   03 January 2012   |   Reply

Great Post, Susan!!

We all too often overlook the fact that every ‘all-consuming fire’ begins with a spark. Each of us are uniquely positioned to see opportunity, seize it by acting courageously and be that spark.

Keep up the great work. Your writings touch many


Susan Mazza   |   03 January 2012   |   Reply

Well said Mark! And thank you for your kind words.

hala   |   04 January 2012   |   Reply

Susan ~ thank you for inviting me to share in your thoughts. It was a pleasure to start our new year with such fabulous people! I am committed to an act of leadership everyday in 2012 and paying your message forward. h

Susan Mazza   |   05 January 2012   |   Reply

Thank you Hala – the feeling is mutual! And it was really fun sharing this movie with your daughter. Keep me posted on the difference those acts of leadership are making!