Sustaining the Unsustainable

Hồ Chí Minh famously said this during the Vietnam War:

You will kill ten of us, and we will kill one of you, but it is you who will tire first.

His point was clear: We are not giving up.

But, the more important principle here is this: Things that seem unsustainable can actually last a lot longer than most folks imagine. The US (and her allies) failed to understand this principle and eventually lost.

We hear this all the time in early-stage startups: “Shit, I’m working 100 hours a week! I’m going to burn out if I don’t stop!” And then they continue to work 100+ hours for not just weeks, but, years.

The human body is more though than most people think. But, there is always a cost associated with such behavior and each person must sit and count the costs (and be happy with them).

But it can be really dangerous for folks to take advantage of their bodies in that way, knowing that they can sustain something unsustainable for much longer than is necessary or useful.

Sure, we may slay a ton of work this weekend (“ten of us”) but you will find yourself tired, exhausted, and burnt out. And deciding to ignore the warning signs is no good for business.