I recently read this amazing account of BUD/s training, from one of the members of SEALs Team Six (the badass mofos who got Bin Laden). The article is fairly long, but worth reading if you have the time.

This passage, particularly resonated with me.

Deprived of support in our environment and the support of our own bodies, the only thing propping us up was our belief in accomplishing the mission—complete Hell Week. In psychology this belief is called self-efficacy. Even when the mission seems impossible, it is the strength of our belief that makes success possible. The absence of this belief guarantees failure. A strong belief in the mission fuels our ability to focus, put forth effort, and persist. Believing allows us to see the goal (complete Hell Week) and break the goal down into more manageable objectives (one evolution at a time). If the evolution is a boat race, it can be broken down into even smaller objectives such as paddling. Believing allows us to seek out strategies to accomplish the objectives, such as using the larger shoulder muscles to paddle rather than the smaller forearm muscles. Then, when the race is done, move on to the next evolution. Thinking too much about what happened and what is about to happen will wear you down. Live in the moment and take it one step at a time.

“Self-efficacy has been described as the belief that one is capable of performing in a certain manner to attain certain goals. It is a belief that one has the capabilities to execute the courses of actions required to manage prospective situations.” [wikipedia]

While it’s easy to make the obvious analogy that “running a startup is just like SEAL training,” I think the more general lesson is that ones’ own self-efficacy applies to every single detail of ones’ life.

Remember those public service announcements as a kid that said “you are what you eat?”

Well, I think you are what you believe.

So, believe in yourself. Believe you can be that Navy Seal. Believe your significant other is the right one for you. Believe you can build a great company. Believe you’re going to be successful.

Life is hard and without a foundational belief in yourself, how will you ever achieve your dreams (and build your company)? How will you ever convince someone else (your startup team or investors) to believe in you? How will you handle the unavoidable obstacle course that is (a startup and) life in general?

That being said, the second key ingredient is also an extreme sense of self-awareness. I know plenty of people who believe they are the smartest person in the room. Some of them are right and some of them aren’t. My point is, if you’re self-aware, you know where you’re strong and where you’re weak and you’ll do the work to chase your goals. 

Using myself as an example, I believe I will be a successful entrepreneur. I am aware that I do not yet have all the skills and experience required to do so, but my belief in the mission keeps me focused on the steps necessary to climb the mountain, to paddle through the boat race, to finish the next evolution.

But it all starts with self-efficacy. 

[Read the rest of the original article here.]