“A trough is an elongated (extended) region of relatively low atmospheric pressure, often associated with fronts.”

- Wikipedia

Start-up companies often experience a season they call the “Trough of Sorrow”.  They describe it as being in the place where no matter what they do, the company does not improve.  Adding to the sorrow is the feeling that everyone else around them seems to be succeeding wildly.  All the others seem to be getting acquired, raising huge funding rounds, and announcing new and exciting product innovations.

The trough is the land of credit card funding rounds, late nights, and endless bags of Ramen noodles.  This is where it is easy to give yourself over to despair, begin to obsess about everything, and make the wrong decisions out of fear.

The biggest risk is in becoming demoralized.

We don’t work with a lot of start-ups, but we know a lot of people living in the “trough of sorrow”.  Where nothing seems to be changing and all their best efforts, ideas, and strategies seem to return void.  Where they are getting tossed in an endless sea and they have almost completely lost sight of the land they once hoped to find.  Where the basket of problems they started the year with still feel all too familiar at the end of the year.

Let’s face it, a great vacation can ease the tension for a while.  Allow for an escape that lets you forget the trough for a few days.  Even watching a good movie can be a really good 2-3 hour mini-diversion from the trough.  But once the plane lands or the credit rolls, the crushing reality of things starts to build.

Sound familiar?  

Time for a really honest conversation.

  • Have you gotten so comfortable in the familiarity of chaos, that going on a journey to find real change feels like the riskier path?
  • Has demoralization dropped its’ roots so deeply into the soil that you feel like moving to a different place is impossible? 
  • Have you given up on believing you can really get “there” from “here”?

Things can change.

I promise.

If you are tired enough of the trough of sorrow, genuinely motivated to actually do something about it, and open to having someone else coach you…we should talk.  Getting out of the trough of sorrow is simple, it just isn’t easy.  

But an increasing number of business leaders are doing just that.

I now know more about my strengths and what my unique role is to play.  The company is operating with a much stronger sense of ownership and unity.  Everybody is shifting into much more focused roles and we have more momentum than we have ever had before.
— Jason Casey


  • Could you relate to the season known as the “trough of sorrows”?
  • Are you in one?
  • Has the sense of overwhelm and chaos become so familiar that you’ve almost quit believing that things can change?
  • Are you ready to really do something about it for 2018?