4 steps to escape the Trough of Sorrow

The Trough of Sorrrow

While on vacation in June, I ran across this post on the 8Bit blog (8Bit is the creator of The Collective’s WordPress template – Standard Theme). John Saddington shared the below graphic/timeline of a start-up business. It specifically refers to a tech start-up (which will be sold or go public). The graphic doesn’t directly relate to us small and micro business owners, but it still rings true.

Start-up curve graphic from 8Bit site

Notice the long “trough of sorrow” period. This is when most businesses quit or fail. The honeymoon has ended, the hype has worn off, and the reality of the job ahead has firmly set in with everyone on board.

This is when long-lasting businesses are created. The trough of sorrow is when great leaders are born and shine. These leaders aren’t great because they make flashy decisions. They shine because they come back to the table day after day after day. They slog through the intense, tough times.

How to make it through the “Trough of Sorrow”

I’m in the middle of my 3rd business start-up, and I’m actively working on another couple. Here are a few things I’ve learned about making it through the Trough of Sorrow.

1. Don’t give up.

Michael Hyatt shared in his book Platform that it was when he had come to the end of his rope that things began to turn around for his blog. Had he quit when he felt like it, he would have missed a massive turn around just a month or so away.

Steven Pressfield in his book Do the Work explains that breakthrough comes when we push through the hard and difficult things we don’t want to do.

2. Stop changing your mind.

Pat Flynn author of the blog Smart Passive Income shares that success starts with choosing a path and sticking with it. He says:

Stop changing your mind. Stop doubting yourself and your decisions, pick something, believe in it, and go for it. This rule alone will get you where you need to go and stop you from falling short of success.

Notice in the graphic above that there will be “wiggles of hope” and a “crash of ineptitude” causing you to question everything about what you are doing. Remember to stay the course.

3. What is the next RIGHT step?

Kia and I continually ask each other this question when walking through a new project. We ask the question when we start to get lost in our own frustrations, sorrow, or anger. The way out that pit is refocusing on what needs done now.

Make a list. Prioritize the list. Do the list.

Just do the next RIGHT thing.

4. Be intentional.

99% of us won’t get to “the promised land” on accident. It takes intentional attention and action.

In my 2011 Word of the Year project I chose Freedom. The biggest lesson I learned is I won’t be free if I don’t act intentionally. The bigger lesson I learned is acting intentionally applies to much more than freedom. It applies to any area of improvement I seek in my life or business.

Think bigger.

If you are in the midst of a trough of sorrow, lift your head. It is so easy to get lost in this wilderness.

Think beyond today. Think beyond your business.

Your promise land is coming.

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2 Responses to “4 steps to escape the Trough of Sorrow”

  1. Charisma August 16, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    Thanks for this…it is just the uplifting and positive push I am needing right now!

    • Andy Bondurant August 28, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

      So glad this was the timely word you needed! Good luck…

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