If you haven’t already, I highly suggest reading Adm. William H. McRaven’s ten valuable lessons learned from Navy SEAL training. While I imagine few of us will experience anything as difficult as SEAL training, these lessons can be applied to help us overcome the variety of obstacles we face. As I read through the list, three of the lessons hit home for me and are important for anyone starting their own business.
1) Never be satisfied and always work to be better. When I was young my father was either the coach or a very observant spectator for nearly every sport I played. I was better at some sports than others, but no matter how well I played I would dread the drive home. The drive home was when I would hear about every single mistake I made, and when I didn’t make a mistake I would hear about how I could have performed even better. At the time this was extremely frustrating. I would have an amazing game and still have to hear about my imperfections the entire ride.
Many years later when I was on the track team during college, I had a great race and beat my personal record by over a second (a lot for a sprinter). My first thought after the shock wore off was to all the things I could have done better and I was filled with the desire to get back on the track to improve. It was not until that moment that I realized the valuable lesson my father taught me. No matter how well you do or how perfect you think something is, there is always room for improvement. The desire to make those improvements and never settle will help you succeed.
2) Never be afraid of failure. In 7th grade, all I wanted was to make the school basketball team. Unfortunately, when the team was posted on the wall of the gym, my name was absent.
I worked hard over the next year and nervously looked at the 8th grade team posted to the wall…my name was absent yet again. I still remember the horrible feeling that flooded my body as I stood in front of that list. After this second failure, I nearly gave up. Lucky for me, the support of my parents led me to practice all of my weaknesses every single day the following summer. When the 9th grade team was posted that fall, my name was on the list.
You will likely fail many times on the way to reaching your goals. To be successful, you need to understand that failures happen, learn from them and continue on with your journey.
3) Never think you have to do it alone. On my journey to start Slipstream there have been countless times when I was overwhelmed and did not think I had it in me to keep going. Early on I would keep it to myself in an attempt to hide my stress as I was afraid that people would see my problems as weakness. I quickly learned that this was not sustainable and found a partner in my wife Miranda. It is truly amazing how much relief comes from just sharing your problems. The discussion alone puts things into perspective and often allows you to realize that things are manageable and will be ok.
You will almost surely feel alone at some point. Find a partner to help or just listen. Beyond just an outlet for stress, working with those around you will lead you to better outcomes every time.