Some years ago I watched a 2014 graduation speech given at the University of Texas at Austin. The speech was given by William Harry McRaven,  a former United States Navy Admiral and Navy SEAL officer.

What starts here changes the world

McRaven provides some sage insights to every graduate. McRaven states that in your lifetime you will meet around 10,000 people. If you are able to change the lives of just ten people out of those 10,000, the impact could be profound. McRaven goes on to talk about how decisions in times of conflict can have a profound and a far-reaching impact – not just for the individual but also their family and their children and children’s children.

One of the most important pieces of advice that McRaven provides is that a piece of training that he got  when he started out as a SEAL were

Every morning his instructors would do, would be to inspect every’one’s bed. It seemed mundane and trivial but it was required – make your bed to perfection. 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.

Start off your day by making your bed

This will encourage you to do the next task and another and another. By end of the day, that one task that you completed will have grown into many. Even if you have a miserable day, by the time you turn in, you can be comforted and reassured by the fact that at least one task your set out to do that day, was successfully completed.

You made your bed, and you get the benefit of having a made bed. The little things in life matter – do your chores.If you cannot do the little things. How can you hope to do the big things?

If you cannot do the little things. How can you hope to do the big things?

Respect everyone

In a similar vein, consider how you deal with others. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle the boat as you ride the waves of life. If you focus on people even friends you may be very surprised how much people can exceed your expectations.  – people will go for a little more. If people are respected, considered and encouraged, you will find that people will go for a little more. Don’t assess the individual by their physical attributes, assess them by their performance and ask yourself whether they were successful or in fact ARE successful. McRaven described small teams of individuals who formed boat crews. One team on face value were an odd match, they were referred to as

If you focus on people even friends you may be very surprised how much people can exceed your expectations.  – people will go for a little more. If people are respected, considered and encouraged, you will find that people will go for a little more. Don’t assess the individual by their physical attributes, assess them by their performance and ask yourself whether they were successful or in fact ARE successful. McRaven described small teams of individuals who formed boat crews. One team on face value were an odd match, they were referred to as

McRaven described small teams of individuals who formed boat crews. One team on face value were an odd match, they were referred to as The Munchkin Crew – in reality, they were tenacious and motivated underdogs one of the best performing teams. Respect everyone.

If people are respected, considered and encouraged, you will find that people will go for a little more. Don’t assess the individual by their physical attributes, assess them by their performance and ask yourself whether they were successful or in fact ARE successful.

There are a lot of sharks in the world

McRaven also described how, as part of his basic training he was required to swim out to San Clemente which is an island in the middle of a breeding ground for the great white sharks off the coast of San Diego.

McRaven related how before the night swim the instructors would describe all the species of sharks that inhabit the waters off San Clemente to the men.

One of the pieces of guidance is that if a shark begins to circle your position — stand your ground. Do not swim away. Do not act afraid. If the sharks comes towards you,  punch him in the snout, and he will turn and swim away.

There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim of life relatively unscathed, you will have to deal with them.

If you want to institute change in the world, don’t back down from the sharks.

Watch the speech in its entirety, it is very compelling and this summary does not do it justice.

About the author

eyeClinton Jones has experience in international enterprise technology and business process on four continents and has a focus on integrated enterprise business technologies, business change and business transformation. Clinton also serves as a technical consultant on technology and quality management as it relates to data and process management and governance. In past roles Clinton has worked for Fortune 500 companies and non-profits across the globe.

 

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