On Memorial Day, I got to witness one of the most amazing come-from-behind victories I have ever seen in sports. The Syracuse men’s lacrosse team defeated Cornell in overtime to claim the NCAA title.
The amazing part of the victory was that Syracuse was down by 3 goals with only three and a half minutes left in the game. They scored 3 unanswered goals to tie the game, with the last one coming with only 4 seconds left on the clock, and then went on to win in sudden death.
I have been coaching youth sports for a few years, and working with entrepreneurs for quite a bit longer. This season as a youth basketball coach, I was trying to get my kids to believe that they could come back and win despite facing trying circumstances. Syracuse lacrosse is my new example to explain to kids about not giving up.
There is such an amazing value to perseverance, but it is often difficult to show good concrete examples, especially championship winning examples.
Most entrepreneurs facing similarly trying circumstances in getting their companies going, getting products launched, generating revenue, and getting profitable. When I was a VC, I used to refer to this as walking across hot coals. You simply had to believe that you could make it, and persevere. Importantly, I am not saying you don’t need to change, adapt to the circumstances. Good entrepreneurs will persevere, but not blindly following the path that wasn’t working.
But ultimately, you have to keep believing that you can score the tying goal, even with :04 left on the clock, in order to actually score it and win the championship in overtime. Like Scott Cook the founder of Intuit, making payroll on his credit cards more than once.
Syracuse persevered and won it all.