Following excerpts adapted from the speech delivered as the commencement address to the graduates of The University of Texas at Austin in 2014 by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command
If you think it’s hard to change the lives of 10 people — change their lives forever — you’re wrong. But, if you think about it, not only were these soldiers saved by the decisions of one person, but their children yet unborn were also saved. And their children’s children were s
aved. Generations were saved by one decision, by one
Well, I am confident that it will look much, much better. But if you will humor this old sailor for just a moment, I have a few suggestions that may help you on your way to a better a 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 the world around us — will apply equally to all.
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?
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. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never 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.
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.
Know that 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 want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.
If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.
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.
If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment. 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.
So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.
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 take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up — if you do these things, then 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.