One of my high school teachers once told our class: “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” I never understood what she said (and seriously thought she mis-quoted the quote, but I think I can understand it a little better now (after the traditional googling, of course…).
The first part, “When the going gets tough…”, is simply explainable as encountering a challenge, etc. However, the second part, “… The tough gets going.” never ‘gelled’ with my consciousness. After said googling, I found this interesting:
“It means … brave, bold, determined . . . rugged, strong, indomitable. The saying goes ‘. . . the tough GET going’: ‘tough’ functions as a plural noun here. Those who are tough (strong) get going: they spring into action to meet whatever challenge is making things tough (difficult).”
Via Phrase Finder
Interesting… very interesting…