Secret Mission: 20 Seconds of Bravery


We have come to the last day. Thank you for joining us on this grand experiment we call Escape Lab. We really hope it was a fun, insightful, and valuable experience for you.

We covered a lot of ground over these past four weeks, and you may have noticed a common thread weaving through it all. It’s a theme that might be best summarized in one simple word: Tinker. Whether we’re talking about how to make more time for the people and projects that are important to us, what we should opt-IN to or opt-OUT of, or how to whittle down our Regret-Me-Not lists down to nothing, it all boils down to that one first step. As we’ve seen again and again in the past month, a tiny but bold experiment can change everything. Sometimes the conscious decision to just freaking start is the most important step of all.

I, for one, spent a lot of my childhood being afraid. I was afraid of new experiences. Of meeting new people. Of the unknown. Of drowning. Of looking stupid. Of the future. Of being a colossal failure in life. I was afraid the thunder, the lightning, and the firetrucks. There have been many moments in my life when I have been afraid and, like Susan Jeffers advises, “felt the fear and did it anyway.” Those brief moments of bravery have increased my resistance to fear and bolstered my courage to keep going.

If you haven’t already, we HIGHLY recommend watching We Bought a Zoo starring Matt Damon. It’s a fun little true story about a guy with two kids who literally bought a zoo after his wife died. It also features one of my favorite movie quotes of all time:

“You know, 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.”

It’s a pretty strong line by itself, but in the context of the movie, it’s profoundly powerful.

I don’t know about you, but to me, there is great comfort in remembering that I don’t have to be brave and courageous every minute of my life.

20 seconds here and there will do.

And so, silly things like sticking a cup to the top of our car or eating spaghetti straight off the table do more than make us smile; they are safe but powerful ways to practice embarrassing bravery.

Now. Although this is the last day of the first Escape Lab, it’s still a Friday, which means it’s time for one more Secret Mission. It may be the most important one yet.


Your challenge, in the next few days, is to do something that requires 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery. We can’t tell you what that might be, but we suspect that in your heart, you may already know. Then report back here, and share what you did and what came of it.

In closing, we leave you with this music video. If we had an official theme song for this first Lab, this would be it.

Oh, and now you can open the final secret envelope marked February 6th, 2015.


Report on your 20 Seconds of Embarrassing Bravery!


  1. Michelle Grachek Michelle Grachek says:

    Thank you Jason…Thank you for the reminder to live life to the fullest!

  2. Debbie Green Debbie Green says:

    Thank you doesn’t seem quite enough to you Kim and Jason, to the back scene people (Jenna) and to all who paticipated! This came at such a good time in my life and will continue to be goals for me even though the actual event is over. I recently had my 20 seconds of bravery, but I think I am not reay to share that yet.
    Love, joy, happiness, peace, and blessings to you all..

  3. Mary Eickemeyer Mary Eickemeyer says:

    I think that having 20 seconds of bravery is an interesting concept. I seemed to spend a significant amount of time during my teen years walking the line between courage and stupidity and it is a thin line, indeed. I have had my 20 seconds more than once: the time I told my husband I would go on a kayaking camping trip with him when I had never kayaked in my life (I loved it and he hated it), when I told people in my college graduating class that I planned to start a family even though I knew my husband kept insisting that he was not ready (our oldest was born a year later), and most recently late last summer when I decided to find a new job instead of settling for the same routine and huge number of rules that don’t exist at the place where I had worked for almost a decade. Today, though, was another 20 seconds of bravery. I think that I will look back some day and see it as another defining moment in my life. Interestingly, it came just after I found the sheet of regret-me-nots on my table and was re-reading it. I decided to create a space in my home for my creative pursuits and let my family know it. This was met with great skepticism and rudeness which has only strengthened my resolve to make it work. I discovered today that as a by-product, I will also be cleaning out years of stuff that has simply been sitting around and much of which needs to be tossed. I will be calling for the dumpster on Monday.

    • Angela Dunlap Angela Dunlap says:

      Facing the ones we love is the most difficult and takes the most bravery because we care so much about them. Facing strangers is less daunting in so many ways. Congratulations on your 20 seconds! May it inspire many creative moments for you!

    • Congrats, Mary! It sounds like you have a great legacy of bravery going! Best of luck to you on your new nook for creative pursuits, I hope that it is a blessing that produces great fruit in your life!

      By the way, I totally relate to the thin line between courage and stupidity, but the other day Kim and I came across a sign that we loved. It said: “Ever notice that ‘what the hell’ is always the right decision?”


  4. Darla Dernovsek Darla Dernovsek says:

    Doing this wasn’t so brave — but continuing it after I realized everyone thought I was insane required at least a few ounces of courage. I normally don’t use my headset and cell phone for long conversations in public, but Woodman’s on a Saturday afternoon is so chaotic that one more conversation cannot possibly make it crazier. And I really needed to talk to my sister. So when the phone rang as I was leaving the car, I didn’t tell my sister I couldn’t talk. Instead, I put the “buds” of my headset in my ears and tucked the phone into an inside pocket. It turns out that made the headset almost invisible to people passing by. So as I laughed and joked and shared grocery prices with my sister, people stopped and stared at me. One person even reached out to touch my arm with a look of great concern on her face (at the time, I had just fiercely said something disparaging about the young man who two-timed a young relative and bruised her heart). A young couple stopped their cart and exchanged looks that seemed to me to be saying, “Should we call security?” Each time someone reacted, I smiled, pulled the tiny bright pink microphone on the black cord out of my coat so they could see it, and said, “Headset!” And each time they responded by saying “Ooooooooooh” and then smiling or laughing in return. After the first time, it was just fun to keep going and see how many reactions I got. My sister cracked up on the other end of the phone each time I said “Headset!” For politeness’ sake I hung up when I got to the checkout line, but until then I just rolled with it and had fun.

  5. Jackie Ward Jackie Ward says:

    Jason, When you talk about the 20 seconds of bravery & I “Remember Stanley” I fell this small butterfly fluttering in my gut . I choose HOPE as my word for 2015 with that energy not to fear and be the best I can be & follow my purpose. My 20 seconds of bravery was on January 22 when I had inquired about the possibility of a space at a BRAVA luncheon for Dr. Richardson, who works at UW Waisman Center, and created the kindness curriculum for children. I know the marketing director and she opened up a spot for me. Kindness and Gratitude are dear to my heart & especially if it creates a ripple effect to children. I was on top of my game. I was doing the ” Dance of Joy”. When I arrive the Sheraton was packed ( 220 people for luncheon) and I wanted to sit in front and many chairs were already turned over. I asked a lady if the seat was taken and she welcomed me to the table. I began a conversation with her as well as another person. I do agree that these two strangers became friends that day. I have connected with CaSarah weekly as we share the same drive and are looking into how I can re-brand our child care center by creating a parenting boot camp and possibility of 100% organic & Gail, I have booked a Tea Etiquette class for our school age children in August too. Whew! Thank you for sharing so many inspirations! Thank you Kim for giving me the extra nudge to join Escape Lab, the timer was literally counting down. Whew! You are my Rock Stars!

    • So great, Jackie! I have no doubt that you rocked it. :)

      I’m glad you were able to join us on this adventure; it was clearly meant to be!!!

  6. Angela Dunlap Angela Dunlap says:

    On Saturday, I attended a women’s national soccer team game at Busch Stadium and took tons of photos just because I wanted to. I ended up getting a really cool shot of the New Zealand goalkeeper. My sister, brother-in-law and niece told me I should share it with the goalkeeper. We happened to be staying in the same hotel as the New Zealand team and saw several of the team members in the lobby the next morning. Why it took bravery to go up to them to show them the photo on my camera, I don’t know, but it did. I thought about it a long time and then went up to the group. The goalkeeper (Erin Nayler) was not in the group, but one of them told me her name and said I could post the photo to her Facebook page. When I got home on Sunday, I did post it to her page and she liked it. While this act of “bravery” wasn’t life-changing for anyone, it was fun to talk to the players about the photo and my camera (which I absolutely love using).

    • Man, I really love this, Angela! I always try and remind people (including myself) that living a great story isn’t always about jumping out of a plane or swimming with great white sharks. It’s about doing those little things that scare us or challenge us, even if they’re no big deal to anyone else. Three cheers to you!

Speak Your Mind

Want to personalize the picture next to your comment? It's free, and it works on all kinds of sites. Set it up here!