The road to success is unevenly paved. There are bumps in the asphalt, grooves, and unexpected potholes that are so jarring you wonder whether the journey is worth continuing. But the thing is, as you push on, you start to better understand how to navigate the twists and turns, the path seems to smooth a bit, and suddenly you realize you’re actually able to enjoy the journey.
At Ink & Well, Jennifer and I have been very open about the tough times we’ve had. Launching this company has been a passion project for us and we’ve loved going above and beyond to serve our clients, but there have been times when we’ve pushed so hard to deliver that it’s actually negatively impacted our lives. Our openness on our blog isn’t an attempt to brag about busyness or to make anyone feel bad for us. Our transparency is meant to give you a real sense of what it’s like to start a business. We want to inspire and empower you to go out and get after it, but we want you to know what this is really like. We never want to trick our readers into thinking that starting a business is all sunshine and roses. As we’ve noted in the past, we’ve had so many moments of exhaustion, confusion, and doubt that we’ve looked each other through bleary, teary eyes and just said, “I’m scared we’re not going to make it,” without actually speaking a word. In those moments, although Jennifer and I don’t consider ourselves people who are predisposed to failure, we saw failure as an actual possibility.
Lately, however, things seem to have taken a turn and this road we’ve traveled, clinging to one another for dear life, has seemed to have smoothed. Either that or we’ve started to get used to traversing the bumpy terrain. We’ve become okay with the unexpected hiccups, are getting better at accepting help from one another, and have become okay with the fact that, sure, we can do it all, but maybe we can’t do it all right now.
The most interesting part of this whole thing is that the moment when it all clicked passed unnoticed. We totally missed it; it just happened so quickly. Suddenly, we were laughing more during brainstorming sessions, leaving meetings thinking of solutions to issues that came up instead of wondering if we were destined to fail, and we started genuinely enjoying our workdays. Over the time Ink & Well has been in business, we’ve also learned a lot about one another. We’ve learned enough about each other that we can fight. Like actually, really fight, and emerge better partners. . .and better friends.
So what can we pull from all this to help you, the motivated, hopeful business owner? Well, we can offer you a hard-earned truth; the fact that there’s one trait that sets entrepreneurs apart from everyone else. The real key to success is grit. It’s the drive to get off your ass and just do the things you don’t want to do. Learn the hard lessons, fail here and there, and make yourself work harder than you want to. Work early, work late, just get your stuff done and never, ever give up. And one day, after you’ve fought and cried and stress eaten a ton of terrible food, you’ll look up and realize things are actually working. You’ve created something that was worth the wear and tear on your body. You’ve built something, created something, learned something, invented something, or whatever you’re driven to do, and that moment when it all clicks feels akin to that moment you realize you’re in love. Sure, you’ll still work yourself to the bone once that click happens, but it’ll suddenly stop feeling like work. The passion will return, your excitement will come back, and you’ll feel renewed motivation to go further and push even harder.
This way of thinking can be applied to every facet of life. Maybe you’ve been trying for months to add a mile to your run. Or perhaps you’ve been struggling to get your kid to say “mommy.” Maybe you’ve been striving to find balance in a friendship, learn to bake a pie, or paint something that doesn’t look like a potato. No matter what it is you’re trying to achieve, you’ll get there, but only if you stay the course, push hard, and believe that you’re capable of anything. Success comes when you push past those moments when you want to give up, turn away, and do something easy and formulaic. Do not give in to that feeling. Know that every entrepreneur has had a moment when he or she wanted to just give up and work at Whole Foods. Also know that every entrepreneur started somewhere; with a dream or an idea that just nagged at them and wouldn’t go away. Make yourself start somewhere, just like we all did, never, ever stop, and remind yourself that you got this. Go into every day knowing that your mind is a precious commodity. No one can do things exactly like you can, and that’s how you know you will always come out on top. Just grit your teeth, clench your fists, and get yourself pumped to do all the things.
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