At their commencement University of Texas students were treated to a speaker who knows a thing or two about fighting through adversity: a U.S. Navy SEAL.
Admiral William McRaven, a UT grad who served with SEAL Team 3, delivered a powerful speech last weekend, laying out 10 life lessons for grads if they want “to change the world.”
Of course, SEALs are an elite group built on tradition and some terms — “sugar cookies” and “circuses,” for instance — that don’t mean what the rest of us immediately assume.
To really absorb McRaven’s advice, you probably need to watch the whole speech.
McRaven in his own words:
“If you want to change the world…”
1. “…start off by making your bed.”
“The wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over,” McRaven said. “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another, and by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”
2. “…find someone to help you paddle.”
3. “…measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.”
McRaven told the grads of the “munchkin crew” in his SEAL training group. “The big men in the other boat crews would always make fun of the tiny little flippers the munchkins put on their tiny little feet prior to every swim,” McRaven recalled. But he added that those munchkins “outpaddled, outran, and outswam all the other boat crews.”
4. “…get over being a sugar cookie, and keep moving forward.”
5. “…don’t be afraid of the circuses.”
6. “…sometimes you have to slide down the obstacles head-first.”
7. “…don’t back down from the sharks.”
8. “…you must be your very best in the darkest moments.”
9. “…start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.”
In the mud flats between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, sometimes the blind hope inspired by song was the only thing that got the SEAL candidates through the pain, McRaven said.
10. “…don’t ever, ever ring the bell.”
During Hell Week, prospective SEALs are put through the ringer, tested to their physical and psychological limits and told they can “ring the bell” — an actual bell — to signal that they’re voluntarily exiting the program.
McRaven’s advice? “Never, ever give up.”
Watch the whole speech here:
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