Over 75 years ago, a chubby, stoop-shouldered, funny faced man with a speech impediment took a new job. His taking of the new job was one of the most momentous events of the entire 20th Century.
The man was Winston Churchill, and the job was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. 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 most 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 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.”
When you have nothing left but defiance, commit to it with everything you have. Churchill used language to rouse the fighting spirit he believed was still alive in the British people, saying, “If you're going through hell, keep going."
The beauty of this quote it can mean several things to so many people. One our favorite interpretations is; Do the work, don't give in and things will come around. The only constant in life is change—the choice to stay miserable is yours and yours alone to make; or you can keep the faith and continue to put one foot in front of another knowing that bad times don't last. Your experience is your responsibility.
An interesting tidbit is that this quote may have never been said by Winston Churchill. There has been no found substantive evidence that he used the expression. Attributions to him appeared only many years after his death. Some people believe that this quote was tied to him due to his character and willful attitude.