When the going gets tough, the tough gets going..

Contrary to popular belief, Ronan Keating was not responsible for this phrase.  Many believe it to have come from Joe Kennedy, father of  J.F.K,  or possibly, earlier still,  from a Norwegian-American  football coach,  Knute Rockne,  back in the late 1900’s.  It has since been used by many motivational speakers, as an easy to remember catch phrase for their listeners to emotionally engage with.

The idea is that it drums up our perseverance, encouraging us to push on through however hard to join the victors triumphant.  Aspirational stuff.    There is, of course, the alternative interpretation, that when things get tough, the tough have the sense to get going the hell out.  But most people never even hear that secondary meaning.

An even bigger conundrum is raised in the mixed messages on motivation, mission and perseverance.  We are taught to fight through the dark days of business with the most dogged stubbornness; to ignore the sleepless nights with cash flow worries; the mind numbing red tape; the irate customers; the complaining staff; the lack of holidays and general pressure on work-life balance, all of which characterize the life of an SME owner only too often.   The tough, we believe, are the ones that can rise through all this and come out victorious.

The concept that our businesses must be ethically worthwhile and inspirational is increasingly popular to the millennial and younger generations, disenchanted by the consumerism of boomer days.    We have also the seen the growth of not for profit enterprises evidencing this swing towards purpose being the primary motivator.  The business’s mission to benefit has become central and central to that is the overall belief that we are entitled to happiness and to love what we do.

We can set up businesses with the heartfelt intention and passion in every fibre of our being to make a difference to the world.   However, we will still get the sleepless nights, the cash flow worries, the staff issues and the red tape.   Having passion for what we do is absolutely NO guarantee for success and sadly this is where so many young people I speak to who are wanting to go into business are confused.  Somewhere along the line, the motivational messages have got crossed and too many believe that if we love what we do, we will not have to persevere and our business lives will be miraculously free of all these problems.  Which, of course, is a load of old baloney.

The real truth is that loving what we do is likely to raise our resilience levels to help us adapt and cope with all these little crisis, stresses or strains our business throws at us.  Our team, while it may contain the odd challenge, will likely be a close one, excited to share our vision.  That sense of belonging can make a lot of difference to how we cope.

We can also help ourselves by building balance in our lifestyle and taking care of our mental health.  We can make time to preserve and enjoy the relationships outside work, with family, friends and community.  We can factor in time to exercise and unwind.

We know the necessity of setting our team SMART goals, but the same applies to us as business owners.  We, too, need to feel stretched to just the right degree.  We need to  feel empowered by a sense of achievement.  We need to be on a perpetual voyage of self-discovery and improvement.   These are all things a good coach can help with and in turn that then enables us to continue to love our business through the good times as well as the bad.

Loving what we do doesn’t save us from the problems.  We will still need to develop persistence and resilience.  But when we love what we do will mean that in our heart of hearts there is never a question mark in our mind about doing it.   Without the love and passion for what we do, when the going gets tough, we will be much more likely to get going – in the opposite direction.

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