27 May, 2018
If You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Going
On May 10, 1940, the British looked to be finished. They stood alone against the vicious and victorious Nazis.
Two weeks after Churchill came into power, France was knocked out of the war, and 340 000 British troops had to scramble to escape over the beaches at Dunkirk. The Germans had absolute control of all of Europe. It seemed impossible that Britain could survive.
With almost no hope left, the nation turned to Winston Churchill, the one man who had spoken the truth for years, saying nasty things about Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, even though it cost him in terms of political success and personal reputation.
Churchill’s first speech to the British people as PM laid out his program bluntly, «I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.» He followed that with another speech shortly thereafter: «.. we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.»
In other words, his plan for success: Complete and total defiance. «If you’re going through hell, keep going.» And the line that summed up his personal career and the spirit that led the British people to victory. Churchill would later describe what he did this way, «It was the nation and the race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion’s heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.»
He was right about the lion’s heart. Within months, the Luftwaffe would duel the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain. The RAF was badly outnumbered by its German opponents, but that didn’t stop it from beating the Germans day after day, month after month. Finally the Germans admitted defeat by changing tactics and began the Blitz, the strategic bombing of London and southern England. Londoners proved Churchill’s lion’s heart remark again, taking care of each other in the tube stations during the air raids while firefighters made sure that St. Paul’s survived the bombing.
No matter what kind of shape your business is in, if your attitude is never, never, never give up, you stand a much better chance of succeeding. The folks you work with will pick up on your sincerity and conviction, and they’ll begin to operate the same way. And it will enable all of you to take the difficult steps necessary.
«Never, never, never give up.» — Winston Churchill
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