In the journey of life, there’s an invaluable lesson that often stands out—the realization that things won’t always go our way.

It’s precisely in these moments of difficulty that hard truths come to light, and tough questions about ourselves are answered.

Whether we pursue our goals or navigate unexpected setbacks, the power of grit, perseverance and insights gained from hard lessons becomes part of the proven path to success.

Get to Work on Your Grit

In a world where instant gratification often takes precedence, the path of doing hard things, embracing uncertainty with no guarantee of results can feel daunting.

However, it’s essential to recognize that the road to achievement is rarely a smooth one. Rejections, obstacles, and disappointments are integral components of this journey. They define and in many we are validation that you are on the proven path to success.

Many of the companies I tried haven’t worked out. In 2001 The Games Kitchen, our mobile games development startup exploded onto the scene with Wireless Pets, a WAP game that had hundreds of thousands of users overnight. It led to funding, and monster companies such as Sony, SEGA and Disney signing us up to build products for them—it was amazing!

We had an extreme couple of years launching the mobile game to support Disney’s Lilo and Stitch, Sony asking what games in this mode might look for the PlayStation… surely we had cracked the code and were headed for the stratosphere.

oldschool games

Yet, ultimately we combusted because we were naive to what it took to build a scalable startup business.

It hurt like hell. We thought we had a sure shot of success. What we were left with was a feeling of frustration, that we had misfired and that was a bitter pill to swallow.

In the months (even years) that followed, I was constantly reminded that success is not guaranteed with the snap of our fingers or being in the right place at the right moment. Startups are not meant to be easy. We must set the stage for a mindset that can withstand adversity because building something special means you’ll face a lot of it.

That became my training to foster a mindset to withstand adversity and resilience for me. A focus of constant effort to improve, to learn from failures, and to refine skills. Hard work isn’t solely about the hours we put into a task; it’s a reflection of our dedication, flexibility, and commitment to our dreams.

The choice to keep working, even when circumstances seem unfavorable, is a choice to invest in our growth and eventual success.

Setbacks Are Part of the Process

When we don’t achieve immediate results, it’s easy to become disheartened. However, these are the moments when our persistence matters the most.

Instead of succumbing to frustration, we must remember that every small step contributes to the larger picture. It’s this incremental progress that accumulates over time and leads us to meaningful accomplishments.

The Games Kitchen failing hurt but it made me better. I speak to many entrepreneurs and innovators that say the same. Startup land is littered with stories to setbacks that became turning points for a better direction, a deeper focus and stronger business builders overall.

Stewart Butterfield and Cal Henderson, the co-founders of Slack, founded a gaming company called Glitch that didn’t take off as expected. Despite its failure, they and their team saw potential in a communication tool they had developed for internal use. They pivoted, focusing on what worked, and transformed it into Slack—a communication platform that has become an essential tool for businesses worldwide.

Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey — who came on my UNLEARN podcast to talk about it — also faced challenges with payments startup, Square. The company initially launched a product called “Card Case,” which didn’t resonate well with customers. Despite this setback, they persisted in refining their product and focusing on the needs of merchants. Today, Square offers a range of financial tools for businesses and individuals.

While stories such as Slack and Square are inspiring, the true success is not just about the end goal; it’s about the journey itself.

As Jim McKelvey shared on our podcast, “A lot of the companies that are now household names … began with a founder who just found themselves in a really unpleasant situation and didn’t quit.”

The satisfaction that arises from conquering challenges, overcoming setbacks, and proving our own capabilities is unparalleled.

The feeling of accomplishment that follows persistent effort is a testament to the power of hard work and its ability to shape us into stronger, more confident individuals.

Adversity Builds Resilience

Confidence isn’t born out of constant triumphs, but rather from facing adversity head-on and emerging resilient.

When we encounter obstacles and still choose to keep working, we cultivate a level of self-assuredness that can weather any storm.

The moments of bouncing back from setbacks, of pushing through when the odds are against us, are the moments that define our character and build our confidence.

In the pursuit of our desires, it’s essential to acknowledge that not everything will go as planned. There will be instances when our wishes remain unfulfilled, and the temptation to give up may be strong.

However, it’s during these times that the philosophy of dealing with difficult situations shines brightest. Whether we’re in the process of achieving our goals or redefining them, the constant remains: keep working.

The journey of working on your grit, hard tasks and persistence is not a solitary one. It’s a shared experience that unites individuals who understand that success is a culmination of effort, determination, and unwavering commitment.

I’ve learned something new every day from startups, teams and hard situations I’ve had to deal with. Building Nobody Studios has been the toughest task I’ve ever done, yet some of the most rewarding.

So, remember, when the path seems arduous and the outcomes uncertain, keep working. With each step forward, you’re not only getting closer to what you want but also embodying the true essence of success itself.