This is a very famous and poorly phrased saying. When you’re at work and the workload is becoming very difficult, a co-worker will often walk up and say “Well when the going gets tough, the tough get going! And I really must be going!” Then they laugh and leave you to do all the work. So let me get this straight, when the going gets tough, the tough leave? That’s what “Get going” usually means. If someone says “I have to get going” that doesn’t mean they’re ready to hunker down and get some serious work done, it means they’re grabbing their hat off the hat rack and taking their leave.
|Bikers are tough. Maybe that's because they always have an easy way to get going.|
This phrase “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” was clearly just trying to sound catchy and was willing to sacrifice sense to do it. A better proverb would be “When things get tough, tough people get things done.” At least that makes sense and isn’t a great excuse for people to leave you hanging when the you just got a new order for 500 dildos and you're the only one working overnight at the dildo factory. Yes they're handmade, that's why we're the best!