When he addresses entrepreneurs at Inc. conferences, Bob Parsons, the irascible, ingenious founder of GoDaddy and Parsons Xtreme Golf, tells of his service as a Marine rifleman in Vietnam. The day he arrived in a combat zone--a green replacement in a squad that had just lost five men in an ambush a few days before--he confronted the likelihood that he would not make it out alive. He sat down on the wall of the old French fort his unit occupied and "had what I believe was the only anxiety attack of my life," he recalls. He finally overcame his terror by resolving to do the best job he could, regardless of the outcome. It was a transformative moment--and one reason he credits the Marine Corps for having given him the discipline and courage to succeed as a founder. "If you can accept the worst that can happen to you and live with it," he tells Inc. entrepreneurs, "you become superman or superwoman--you can do anything--because your mind doesn't get in your way." Self-doubt is what holds people back in business, he says. "But if you can accept the worst and do the best job you can, you'll find you can accomplish more than you've ever dreamed."
I suspect that many veterans would also say they gained some intestinal fortitude from their service. But on reading editor-at-large Kimberly Weisul's moving profiles of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans turned entrepreneur, it's hard to escape the sense that they gave more than they got. Nic Gray, an Army Humvee gunner, came back from Iraq with severe PTSD. Dawn Halfaker, an Army MP, lost an arm in an ambush in Baqubah. For them, postservice entrepreneurship has been a way to reclaim some of the intensity of life in a war zone and to challenge themselves to do something incredibly difficult and valuable again. Not least, starting a company has been a way to continue to serve, this time in the way that entrepreneurs uniquely do--by creating jobs and adding to the vitality of the economy. Read their stories. You'll be inspired by what people are capable of.
Compared with these military entrepreneurs, the great motivational speaker Tony Robbins has taken a more deliberate path to inspiring others. No one needs an introduction to Robbins, so executive editor Kris Frieswick set out with a different mission: to deconstruct what makes the world's most famous self-help entrepreneur so extraordinarily motivating. If you could capture just a bit of Robbins's power to make yourself and your team believe, think what you could get done! So read the story and see what you can learn from the Robbins formula. As both Parsons and Robbins would put it, you might be amazed at what you can accomplish.