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THIS WILL CHANGE YOU! Navy Seal Admiral William H. McRaven [MOTIVATIONAL SPEECH]


it’s been almost 37 years to the day
that I graduated from UT I remember a lot of things about that day I remember
I had a throbbing headache from a party the night before I remember I had a
serious girlfriend who I later married that’s important to remember by the way
and I remember I was getting commissioned in the Navy that day but of
all the things I remember I don’t have a clue who the commencement speaker was
and I certainly don’t remember anything they said so acknowledging that fact if
I can’t make this commencement speech memorable
I won’t least try to make it short so the university slogan is what starts
here changes the world well I’ve got to admit I kind of like it what starts here
changes the world tonight there are almost 8,000 students or there more than
8,000 students graduated from UT so that great paragon of analytical
rigor ask.com says that the average American will meet 10,000 people in
their lifetime 10,000 people that’s a lot of folks but if every one of you
changed the lives of just ten people and each one of those people change the
lives of another 10 people and another 10 then in five generations 125 years
the class of 2014 will have changed the lives of 800 million people
800 million people think about it over twice the population of the United
States go one more generation and you can change the entire population of the
world eight billion people if you think it’s hard to change the lives of ten
people change their lives forever you’re wrong
I saw it happen every day in Iraq and Afghanistan a young army officer makes a
decision to go left instead of right down a road in Baghdad and the ten
soldiers with him are saved from a close-in ambush in kandahar province
Afghanistan a noncommissioned officer from the Female Engagement Team senses
that something isn’t right and directs the infantry platoon away
from a 500-pound I Edie saving the lives of a dozen soldiers but if you think
about it not only were those soldiers say by the decisions of one person but
their children were saved and their children’s children generations were
saved by one decision one person but changing the world can happen anywhere
and anyone can do it so what starts here can indeed change the world but the
question is what will the world look like after you change it well I’m
confident that it will look much much better but if you’ll humor this old
sailor for just a moment I have a few suggestions that may help you on your
way to a better world and while these lessons were learned during my time in
the military I can assure you that it matters not whether you ever served a
day in uniform it matters not your gender your ethnic or religious
background your orientation or your social status our struggles in this
world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move
forward changing ourselves and changing the world around us will apply equally
to all I’ve been a Navy SEAL for 36 years but it all began when I left UT
for basic SEAL training in Coronado California basic SEAL training is six
months a long torturous runs in the soft sand midnight swims in the cold water
off San Diego obstacle courses unending calisthenics days without sleep and
always being cold wet and miserable it is six months of being constantly
harassed by professionally trained warriors
who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever
becoming a Navy SEAL but the training also seeks to find those students who
can lead in an environment of constant stress chaos failure and hardships to me
basic SEAL training was a lifetime of challenges crammed into six months so
here the 10 lessons I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of
value to you as you move forward in life every morning in SEAL training my
instructors who at the time were all Vietnam veterans which show up in my
barracks room and the first thing they do is inspect my bed if you did it right
the corners would be square the covers would be pulled tight the pillows
centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the
foot of the rack it was a simple task mundane at best but every morning we
were required to make our bed to perfection it seemed a little ridiculous
at the time particularly in light of the fact that we were aspiring to be real
warriors tough battle-hardened seals but the wisdom of this simple act has been
proven to me many times over if you made 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 mini
task completed making your bed will also reinforce the fact but the little things
in life matter if you can’t do the little things right you’ll never be able
to do the big things right and if by chance you have a miserable day you will
come home to a bed that is made that you made and a made bed gives you
encouragement that tomorrow will be better so if you want to change the
world start off by making your bed during seal training the students during
training the students are all broken down into boat crews each crew is seven
students three on each side of a small rubber boat and one Coxon to help guide
the dinghy every day your boat crew forms up on the
beach and is instructed to get through the surf zone and paddle several miles
down the coast in the winter the surf off San Diego can get to be eight to ten
feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle route through the
plunging surf unless everyone digs in every paddle must be synchronized to the
stroke count of the coxswain everyone must exert equal effort or the boat will
turn against the wave and be unceremoniously dumped back on the beach
for the boat to make it to its destination
everyone must paddle 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 Coxon to guide you if you
want to change the world find someone to help you paddle over a few weeks of
difficult training my seal class which started with 150 men was down to just 42
there were now six boat crews of seven men each I was in the boat with the tall
guys but the best boat crew we had was made up of little guys the Munchkin crew
we called him no one was over five foot five 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
Midwest they out paddled out ran and out swam
all the other boat crews the big men and the other boat crews will always make
good-natured fun of the tiny little flippers the munchkins put on their tiny
little feet prior to every swim but somehow these little guys from every
corner of the nation in the world always had the last laugh
sewing faster than everyone and reaching the shore long before the rest of us
SEAL training was a great equalizer nothing mattered but your will to
succeed not your color not your ethnic background not your education not your
social status if you want to change the world measure a person by the size of
their heart not by the size of their flippers several times a week the
instructors would line up the class and do a uniform inspection it was
exceptionally thorough your hat had to be perfectly starched your uniform
immaculately pressed your belt buckle shiny and void of any smudges but it
seemed that no matter how much effort you put into starting your hat or
freshen your uniform or polishing your belt buckle it just wasn’t good enough
the instructors would find something wrong for failing uniform inspection the
student had to run fully clothed into the surf zone then wet from head to toe
roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand
the effect was known as sugar cookie you stayed in the uniform the rest of
the day cold wet and Sandy there were many a student who just
couldn’t accept the fact that all their efforts were in vain that no matter how
hard they tried to get the uniform right it went unappreciated those students
didn’t make it through training those students didn’t understand the purpose
of the drill you were never going to succeed you were never gonna have a
perfect uniform the instructors weren’t going to allow it sometimes no matter
how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar
cookie it’s just the way life is sometimes if you want to change the
world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward
every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events
long runs long swims obstacle courses hours of calisthenics something designed
to test your mettle every event had standards times you had to meet if you
failed to meet those times those standards your name was posted on a list
and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to a circus a circus
was two hours of additional calisthenics designed to wear you down to break your
spirit to force you to quit no one wanted a circus a circus myth 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 but at some time during seal training everyone everyone
made the circus list but an interesting and interesting thing happened to those
who were constantly on the list over time those students who did two hours of
extra calisthenics got stronger and stronger
the pain of the circuses built inner strength and physical resiliency life is
filled with circuses 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 but
if you don’t if you want to change the world don’t be afraid of the circuses at
least twice a week the trainees were required to run the obstacle course the
obstacle course contain 25 obstacles including the 10-foot wall a 30-foot
cargo net a barbed wire crawl to name a few 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 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 the record for the
obstacle course had stood for years when my class began in 1977 the record seemed
unbeatable until one day a student decided to go down the slide for life
headfirst 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 it was a
dangerous move seemingly foolish and fraught with risk failure could be an
injury and being dropped from the course without hesitation the students 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 if you want to
change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacles headfirst
during the land warfare phase of training the students are flown out to
San Clemente Island which lies off the coast of San Diego the waters off San
Clemente are a breeding ground for the great white sharks to pass SEAL training
they’re a series of long swims it must be completed one is the night swim
before the swim the instructors joyfully brief the students on all the species of
sharks that inhabit the waters off San Clemente
they assure you however that no student has ever been eaten by a shark at least
not that they can remember but you were also taught that if a shark begins to
circle your position stand your ground do not swim away
do not act afraid 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
you will turn and swim away there are a lot of sharks in the world if you hope
to complete the swim you will have to deal with them so if you want to change
the world don’t back down from the Sharks as Navy SEAL is one of our jobs
is to conduct underwater attacks against enemy shipping we practice this
technique extensively during training the ship attack mission is where a pair
of sealed divers is dropped off outside an enemy harbor and then swims well over
two miles underwater using nothing but a depth gauge and a compass to get to the
target during the entire swim even well below the surface there is some light
that comes through it is comforting to know that there is open water above you
but as you approach the ship which is tied to appear the light begins to fade
the steel structure of the ship blocks the moonlight it blocks the surrounding
street lamps it blocks all ambient light to be successful in your mission you
have to swim under the ship and find the keel the centerline and the deepest part
of the ship 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 gets to be easily disoriented
and you can fail every SEAL knows that under the keel at that darkest moment of
the mission is a time when you need to be calm
when you must be called when you must be composed when all your tactical skills
your physical power and your inner strength must be brought to bear if you
want to change the world you must be your very best in the darkest moments
the ninth week of training is referred to as hell week it is six days of no
sleep constant physical and mental harassment and one special day at the
mud flats the mud flats are an area between San Diego and Tijuana where the
water runs off and creates the Tijuana sloughs a swampy patch of terrain where
the mud will engulf you it is on Wednesday of hell week that you paddle
down in the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive this freezing
cold the howling wind and the incessant pressure to quit from the instructors as
the Sun began to set that Wednesday evening my training class having
committed some egregious infraction of the rules was ordered into the 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 only
five men just five men and we could get out of the oppressive cold 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 a chattering teeth and the 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 the song was
terribly out of tune but sung with great enthusiasm one voice became two and two
became three and before long everyone in the class was singing the instructors
threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing but the
singing persisted and somehow the mud seemed a little warmer and 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 the
Washington a Lincoln King Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan Malala
one person can change the world by giving people hope so if you want to
change the world start singing when you’re up to your neck and mud finally a
seal training there’s a bell a brass bell that hangs in the center of the
compound for all the students to see all you have to do quit all you have to do
to quit is ring the bell ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at
five o’clock ring the bell and you no longer have to
be in the freezing cold swims 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 all you have to do is ring the bell to get out if you want to
change the world don’t ever ever ring the bell to the class of 2014 you are
moments away from graduating moments away from beginning your journey through
life moments away from starting to change the world for the better
it will not be easy but you are the class of 2014 the class that can affect
the lives of 800 million people in the next century start each day with a task
completed find someone to help you through life respect everyone know that
life is not fair and that you will fail often but if you take some risks step up
on the time through the toughest faced down the bullies lift up the downtrodden
and never ever give up if you do these things
the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far
better than the one we have today and what started here will indeed have
changed the world for the better thank you very much
fucking horns

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