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“If You Want to Change the World … “

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“If You Want to Change the World … “

Naval Admiral William H. McRaven gave a commencement speech at his alma mater at the University of Texas at Austin worth reading, printing out and hanging on the inside of your front door.

No one has to be a Navy SEAL to get the most out of these 10 life lessons (life lesson listed first for ease of reading). Via Business Insider:

#1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

 

“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. […]

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If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”

 

#2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.

 

“For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle.

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You can’t change the world alone—you will need some help— and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.”

 

#3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.

 

“The munchkin boat crew had one American Indian, one African American, one Polish American, one Greek American, one Italian American, and two tough kids from the mid-west.

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They out paddled, out-ran, and out swam all the other boat crews. […]

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But somehow these little guys, from every corner of the Nation and the world, always had the last laugh— swimming faster than everyone and reaching the shore long before the rest of us.

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SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.”

 

#4. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.

 

“For failing the uniform inspection, the student had to run, fully clothed into the surfzone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand.

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The effect was known as a ‘sugar cookie.’ You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day—cold, wet and sandy.

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There were many a student who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. That no matter how hard they tried to get the uniform right—it was unappreciated.

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Those students didn’t make it through training. […]

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Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar cookie.

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It’s just the way life is sometimes.”

 

#5 But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.

 

“A ‘circus’ was two hours of additional calisthenics—designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit.

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No one wanted a circus.

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A circus meant that for that day you didn’t measure up. A circus meant more fatigue—and more fatigue meant that the following day would be more difficult—and more circuses were likely.

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.Life is filled with circuses.

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You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.”

 

#6. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.

 

“But the most challenging obstacle was the slide for life. It had a three level 30 foot tower at one end and a one level tower at the other. In between was a 200-foot long rope.

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You had to climb the three tiered tower and once at the top, you grabbed the rope, swung underneath the rope and pulled yourself hand over hand until you got to the other end.

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The record seemed unbeatable, until one day, a student decided to go down the slide for life—head first.

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Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down, he bravely mounted the TOP of the rope and thrust himself forward.

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It was a dangerous move—seemingly foolish, and fraught with risk. Failure could mean injury and being dropped from the training.

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Without hesitation—the student slid down the rope—perilously fast, instead of several minutes, it only took him half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record.”

 

#7. So, if you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.

 

“During the land warfare phase of training, the students are flown out to San Clemente Island which lies off the coast of San Diego.

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The waters off San Clemente are a breeding ground for the great white sharks. To pass SEAL training there are a series of long swims that must be completed. One—is the night swim.

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Before the swim the instructors joyfully brief the trainees on all the species of sharks that inhabit the waters off San Clemente.

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They assure you, however, that no student has ever been eaten by a shark—at least not recently.

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But, you are also taught that if a shark begins to circle your position—stand your ground. Do not swim away. Do not act afraid.

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And if the shark, hungry for a midnight snack, darts towards you—then summons up all your strength and punch him in the snout and he will turn and swim away.

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

 

#8. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.

 

“To be successful in your mission, you have to swim under the ship and find the keel—the center line and the deepest part of the ship.

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This is your objective. But the keel is also the darkest part of the ship—where you cannot see your hand in front of your face, where the noise from the ship’s machinery is deafening and where it is easy to get disoriented and fail.

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Every SEAL knows that under the keel, at the darkest moment of the mission—is the time when you must be calm, composed—when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.”

 

#9. So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.

 

“The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads. The instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit—just five men and we could get out of the oppressive cold.

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Looking around the mud flat it was apparent that some students were about to give up. It was still over eight hours till the sun came up—eight more hours of bone chilling cold.

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The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything and then, one voice began to echo through the night—one voice raised in song.

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The song was terribly out of tune, but sung with great enthusiasm.

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One voice became two and two became three and before long everyone in the class was singing. […]

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The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing—but the singing persisted.

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And somehow—the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away.

 

If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person—Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan—Malala—one person can change the world by giving people hope.”

 

#10. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

 

Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see.

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All you have to do to quit—is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims.

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Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training.

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Just ring the bell.”

 

Of course, if you ring that bell, you can never accomplish your goal in life. When things seem hardest, that’s when you push hardest. That’s the only way you can stop being a “sugar cookie.”

 

 

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