I love talking to young entrepreneurs. I want to hear how they get through days where nothing seems to happen; when it seems as though everything is stuck on pause; when they begin to doubt if they will ever "make it." It's something I think about, it's someplace we've all been. I know. I've had those doubts.
But among the many tricks I've used to get past tough days and tough times is by repeating certain clichés. They work because they are short and unbelievably insightful. Some of the many tried and true that I keep going back to:
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
Every cloud has a silver lining.
It's not how many times you get knocked down; it's how many times you get back up.
I managed a singer-songwriter years ago whose career had short-circuited many times. He signed two major label record deals over a three-year period only to have his two big-budget albums dropped one after the other from the release schedule because of the politics of changing management regimes. This is among the cruelest of conditions to young artists, many of whom just get so fed up with the corporate politics of entertainment companies that they walk away from their dreams. This particular artist though, decided to continue with his craft on the side, even though he became a successful building contractor by trade. He still writes, records and releases independent records and knows that they are being listened to by a very small but devoted fan base.
Ever the optimist, he wrote a song called "I Say Grace" that contained one of my all-time favorite and positive statements about how to look at life when your dreams seem to be fading away: "And when the roof caves in, it lets the sunshine in."
Which leads me to the cliché that I never really had any use for: Everything happens for a reason. To me, this is the most obvious and, at the same time, the most misused and misapplied of all clichés. Yes, everything does happen for a reason, and yes, there is a reason that anything happens. It is called cause and effect. But it doesn't mean it's an excuse to not try anything because whatever happens is meant to happen.
That the travails in life are somehow preordained.
That there are no coincidences.
That there is somehow a grand design.
I have never and will never believe that! This kind of thinking is poison to an entrepreneur. Any successful entrepreneur, when faced with defeat, can't allow that defeat to win. When I was 22 I could have easily stopped pursuing my dream.
When the first lead singer pulled a loaded gun on my drummer in a bar fight and threatened to kill him, which led to the band almost breaking up, it would have been very understandable to take that as a sign that rock and roll wasn't my path. Or the time that our truck transmission blew up on the way to a show and another band member, a roadie and I waited for six hours in the freezing cold for a state trooper to call for a replacement; reloaded the new truck and got to the club two hours late but we still played. It was torture, and I could have easily walked away then. Or the time a record executive, after deciding to sign the band, collapsed of a heart attack on a flight back to Europe with our newly signed record deal in his briefcase, which ended up being no deal. Yea, that must have been a sign. Or the time our truck was deliberately set on fire by a rival club owner; or the 50 record label rejections...
Or... or... or...
I could have given up many, many times over because it was plainly obvious that it was not meant to be. All the reasons for it not to happen were clear; they all, in fact, happened for a reason. But we didn't let those reasons short circuit or distort our goals and stop believing in who we were and what we wanted. And you shouldn't either.