Admiral William H. McRaven; United States Navy retired
May 12, 2019 --- Reprinted for your benefit
My 10 Life Lessons from SEAL Training
Monday, 26 May 2014
William McRaven, whose 36-year career as a Navy SEAL has been shrouded in
secrecy, made a rare appearance in public to deliver the commencement
address at the University of Texas and revealed his 10 life lessons he learned
from his basic SEAL training.
McRaven commanded a squadron in the Naval Special Warfare Development Group,
better known as SEAL Team Six, and he was in charge of the planning and execution of the raid that
killed Osama bin Laden.
Due to the mysterious nature of his position, he stayed out of the limelight as
much as possible while other four-star admirals appeared in the media and
before Congress. But McRaven, a 1977 UT graduate, took the stage at his alma mater in Austin, TX to
address 8,000 students and tell them how his SEAL training and the school’s
motto, "What starts here changes the world,” has been relevant to his life and
can be to the graduates as well.
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,” said, noting that he had to have
a perfectly made bed as a SEAL.
Lesson No. 2: If
you want to change the world, find someone to help you 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 coxswain to
Lesson No. 3: If
you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not
the size of their flippers.
"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.”
Lesson No. 4: If
you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving
"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
Lesson No. 5: "If
you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.
The circus was a form of SEAL punishment for
failing to meet physical standards during training. It consisted of two hours
of extra calisthenics. "The pain of the circuses built inner strength –
built physical resiliency,” said McRaven, "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.”
Lesson No. 6: If
you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head
McRaven said that a SEAL student broke an
obstacle course record when he became the first person to take it on
head-first. "It was a dangerous move — seemingly foolish, and fraught with
risk. It only took him half (the) time.”
Lesson No. 7: If
you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.
"There are a lot of sharks in the world. If
you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.”
Lesson No. 8: If
you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.
"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."
Lesson No. 9: If
you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.
During Hell Week in the SEALs, students
spend hours neck deep in bone-chilling cold mud. But one student started
singing and then they all sang along, helping them get through the ordeal.
Lesson No. 10: If
you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.
This lesson refers to the brass bell in the
center of training camp. If a student rings the bell, he can leave the SEALs.
McRaven said, "Ring the bell and you no longer
have to do the runs, the obstacle course, and you no longer have to endure the
hardships of training. Just ring the bell.” In other words, don’t ever quit.