In rodeo, to "cowboy up" means to suck it up when things get tough. You don't just sit around and complain and feel sorry for yourself, you get up, dust yourself off, and get back to it. As one T-shirt slogan puts it, "Are You Gonna Cowboy Up or Just Lay There and Bleed?"
Across my years of experience with new products and new ventures, nothing captures the spirit of an entrepreneur and an inventor better than that phrase. While I've only been kicked out of a few rooms over the years, I've been kicked intellectually and emotionally more times with a NO than I've been told YES. Probably an average of 10 or 20 to 1. All the reasons why an idea won't work. All the reasons why a business won't succeed. All the reasons why I just don't understand that "the competition" would have done this already if it was such a great idea (that's my personal favorite by the way -- if it was do-able, it would have been done).
We're riding a bunch of horses at EIP right now -- a market test out east on one product, our DogPause dog bowl, a license deal we're finalizing on one product, a license deal that just blew up and where we don't know what's next on that particular project due to some unique timing requirements, a possible round of consumer tests on another product, some prototypes that may lead to a consumer test on another product, one very big market launch coming up in September on yet another product, and a market launch on finally one other product in December.
We've had to Cowboy Up on each and every one of those projects - we've been kicked in the head, gotten the wind knocked out of us, and left for dead. In a few other cases we've done our own kicking and told folks to pound sand (or dirt as the case may be). And I KNOW there will be more opportunities for us to just lie there and bleed or to Cowboy Up on these projects in the next 3-6 months.
Ask an entrepreneur if they're bloodied -- if they're not, they haven't really got on the horse yet... Same story with an inventor...