On Thursday, May 22nd, Admiral William McRaven gave the commencement speech at the University of Texas in Austin. Admiral McRaven has served our country as a Navy Seal for 36 years. In this inspiring speech he challenges the students to change the world. He presents 10 life lessons he learned as a Navy Seal which helped him throughout his life.
In this great speech, McRaven challenges the young to emerge from the softness that pervades our comfortable society, and strive for virtue.
Here are some of the lessons:
1. If you want to change the world, make your bed. If you finish the first task, you are bound to finish other tasks. If you don’t do the little things well, you will not accomplish the great things.
2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle. When paddling down a river with his fellow Seals he remembers how important it is for all to paddle in unison. We cannot succeed on our own–we need the help of others.
3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers. The “munchkins”, the short Seals in the group, were the brunt of jokes by bigger men, but they always won the swim races. The human spirit and an unwavering heart is more important than brawn and talent.
4. If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and move on. He explains an interesting ritual in which Seals, whose uniforms were not tidy, had to roll around in the sand and water at the beach and wear the uniform for the rest of the day. The ones who were able to endure this torture, realized that no matter how well they performed they might fail–face failure and move on.
5. If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses. McRaven describes how Seals who did not live up to the time standards of certain exercises had to attend the “circus:” a two hour exhausting calisthenics exhibition which left some in despair and only strengthened the resilience of others.
6. If you want to change the world, sometimes you have to slide down the slide head first. Sometimes one must take a risk with the possibility of failure in order to achieve great things. Don’t be afraid to risk!
7. If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks. Seals make a night swim off San Mateo, where the Great Whites breed. Just listen to this story by McRaven. Life lesson: keep your head when faced with great danger.
8. If you want to change the world, you must be your best in the darkest moments. On another swim on a quest to find a ship’s keel, the Seal faces utter darkness. He must once again keep his nerves steady. In life you need to keep calm in the midst of darkness.
9. If you want to change the world, start singing when you are up to your neck in mud. The power of hope can enliven people’s hearts and strengthen their wills when life is a muddy and rough path.
10. If you want to change the world, don’t ever ring the bell! Never quit!
I do not mean to be presumptuous, but I think Admiral McRaven should have listed just one more life lesson. If you want to change the world, get on your knees every day. Prayer is the strength which will not only help you get up when life knocks you down, but that will guide you to your heavenly home when the time comes to take that next great adventure.