People are always asking, “What do I need to do to become a Navy SEAL?” Or they say, “Those Rangers are all psychos and mindless killing machines; that’s not for me.” Or, perhaps someone thinks they have what it takes, physically, to be a Special Forces soldier, but they don’t know if they have the necessary mental intangibles, so they doubt themselves and their ability to pass the Q Course.

In all these cases, what people are really asking is, what personality traits give Special Operators the ability to not only pass the selection course but to excel in the often extreme environments and conditions in which our military’s elite forces operate.

To shed light on our nation’s Special Operations forces, here are five personality traits that make up the psyches of the typical Special Operator. This is not a comprehensive list, and not all of us share these traits in equal measure, but probably most do exhibit all of them to at least some degree:

Stress Resistance. The typical individual who succeeds in BUD/S, Ranger school, or the Q Course, has a high resistance to stress. In fact, a man who can make it through such a trial has an almost inhuman ability to absorb a stressful situation and carry on through it, while suppressing whatever other emotions might be trying to bubble up during its course. This can manifest itself in an often limited emotional range in everyday social interactions, but in combat conditions, it is ideal. We enter a mental autopilot and shut out emotions that might keep us from carrying on.