Success or Failure: The Journey is the Reward

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship / June 3, 2013


I am a huge Steve Jobs fan. To me, he is in the same class as the great American innovators – the Wright brothers, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell. Beyond creating revolutionary technology, Jobs is also credited with one of my favorite quotes: the journey is the reward.

It’s a simple perspective but one few people have adopted. The modern condition has caused many of us to become metrics driven. We get hell bent on optimizing everything: zero inbox, 4G speeds, Six Minute Abs.  Society seems to have made a collective decision that everything we do must be done as quickly as possible.

Regarding work, I agree that efficiency is critical.  Being inefficient will either cause your work’s quality to decline or will cut into your free time.  But when approaching our lives as a list of tasks to complete, we miss many of life’s great moments:

  • When we’re walking through the world with our heads down reading email or Twitter on our phones, we miss seeing the amazing world around us. We don’t see the sunset, the buildings, the puppies, the cute jogger running by.
  • When we forget to spend special time connecting with our loved ones each day, not just watching TV together or chatting online, it becomes more difficult for us to miss them when we’re apart.
  • When we view a successful day by  how much we have accomplished, we forget to celebrate our victories or relish in special moments in a rush to keep checking boxes off our to-do list.

The journey is the reward is more than just a mantra for the day to day.

It’s also a way that we should view our life’s work.  Life is a journey and a gift; not a game that can be won or lost.

Whether we are successful or fail in the challenges we take on there is tremendous value within the journey of life:

  • Writing a blog with a handful of readers is not a waste of time, it as a way to become a more effective and confident writer.
  • A Kickstarter project that fails to achieve its goal still will help you to learn new skills and expand your network.
  • Leaving your job to start your own business might not work out but at least you’ll know what you’re capable of.

These are just examples from my life of journeys that I have valued. I’m sure everyone has their own. The most important question is: what is your next one?

If you want to achieve true success as an entrepreneur, it is critical to value your journey.  The rewards are important whether its raising a successful seed round or reaching break-even, getting your first customer or your first 1,000,000 users.  The rewards are far less critical than the work you put in achieving them. The skills you learn, the confidence you gain in yourself and the friends you make along the way will last much longer than any capital raise or customer. That is why the journey is the reward.

John Coghlan is co-founder and Chief Organizer at DUMBO Startup Lab, a coworking space for tech startups in Brooklyn.  .

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About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.