If you feel you are going through hell…

Devangshu Dutta

October 8, 2008

If you feel you’re going through hell…keep going. The worst enemy to play mindgames against is yourself.

The title of this post is from a Winston Churchill quote that I came across a few days ago. I thought this is a must-have on the desk of every entrepreneur in the current times to look at every day, maybe several times each day.

But why only entrepreneurs? Any one and everyone who has been touched or fears being touched by the economic downturn needs to keep this thought in mind.

A few days ago I heard an impassioned monologue from an entrepreneur, founder of a mid-sized listed brand manufacturer & retailer in India, when the first two of the big investment banks in the USA collapsed. He repeated one theme of despair several times – “How can there be wealth / money available at the closing of the business day, and then suddenly in the morning such a well-established institution is no more – all the wealth seemingly lost overnight? Is nothing certain?”

Sometimes an important part of building a great business may just be having the ability to live through a downturn.

Here’s another quote from a Forbes article titled – “The Greatest Risks They Ever Took”: …Kit DesLauriers, the first person to ski from all seven summits. Of her descent from the top of Mount Everest, she says: “There were no safety nets, no fixed lines established, freezing winds. We had to spend an unplanned night at 26,000 feet, with very little food and water. The next day, we skied the Lhotse Face, 5,000 feet of blue ice on a 50-degree slope…At one point, we ran out of oxygen. I kept telling myself: “Don’t sit down and die. Just keep going.’ It’s really easy to let your mind get a hold of you, but the journey taught me we are much more than our minds.” (The whole article is available here.)

Times like these are mainly about mind-games that we play against ourselves – the daily newspaper, the stock ticker on TV, the conversations in the hallway all contribute to the feeling of helplessness. But the biggest freefall is within us. So, remember Churchill’s thought: “If you feel you’re going through hell…just keep going.”