Navy SEAL Admiral Tells Students To Make Their Beds Every Morning In Incredible Commencement Speech

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



By Peter Jacobs

U.S. Navy admiral and University of Texas, Austin, alumnus William H. McRaven returned to his alma mater last week to give seniors 10 lessons from basic SEAL training when he spoke at the school's commencement.

McRaven, the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command who organized the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, stressed the importance of making your bed every morning, taking on obstacles headfirst, and realizing that it's OK to be a "sugar cookie."

All of his lessons were supported by personal stories from McRaven's many years as a Navy SEAL.

"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," McRaven told students. "It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status."

We first saw this speech at the Military Times. (Click here for military-related jobs now hiring.) Here's the full transcript of the speech:

Here are some of McRaven's from his years of experience as a Navy SEAL, via University of Texas, Austin:

I have 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 of long torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacles 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 life time of challenges crammed into six months.

So, here are the ten lessons I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life.

Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Viet Nam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.

If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack -- rack-that's Navy talk for bed.

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 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.

During SEAL training the students are broken down into boat crews. Each crew is seven students -- three on each side of a small rubber boat and one coxswain to help guide the dingy.

Every day your boat crew forms up on the beach and is instructed to get through the surfzone and paddle several miles down the coast.

In the winter, the surf off San Diego can get to be 8 to 10 feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle 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 tossed 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 coxswain to guide them.

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 35. 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 the little guys -- the munchkin crew we called them -- no one was over about 5-foot five.

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

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

The big men in the other boat crews would 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 and the world, always had the last laugh -- swimming 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 and not your social status.

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

> Click here to read more of the speech

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Steve

Being a Navy vet, service from 3/64 to 3/70, aircrew as an ASW tech, my training was severe, but not as severe as the Admeral descibes the SEAL basic. That said, I can just about say,"been there-done that". No truer words could have been said to a graduating class as those uttered by this Officer and gentileman. This speech should be part of a required cource in every high school and instiutuion of higher learning in the country. It is this type of thinking that makes me even prouder to say that I am a Vet. Well done sir.

May 24 2014 at 12:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sociophiles

Well you've been duped again. This man is an unknown criminal:
Watch this and you'll see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Oxx2wMs_Xw

May 23 2014 at 11:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mik's $ Toy

I don't know what sort of grade he got in math but 6 boats with 7 men adds up to 42 men, in my book, NOT 35! Just sayin..........

May 23 2014 at 10:56 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mik's $ Toy's comment
lady

if you actually LISTENED, you'd have heard him say 42 left - typo on written page.

May 24 2014 at 8:45 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Mik's $ Toy

I don't know what sort of grad he got in math but 6 boats with 7 men adds up to 42 men, NOT 35! Just sayin..........

May 23 2014 at 10:55 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
jgseawell

inspiring! We as parents ove the last generation (particularly the well off) have not made our kids understand the need to work hard and sometimes fail. We are always there to catch them when they fall. They must realize that life is not alway fair. Life will have it's struggles. Sometimes there is no one to catch you. You will learn from your failures. You have to over come your challenges in order to suceed.

May 23 2014 at 10:53 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
bh164

Wise words for all of us to live by, from a great man....

May 23 2014 at 10:41 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Hobart

Is there an American who down deep isn't thankful there are men who step up to such a challenge in our nation's defense?

Pray the "P.C. Nazis" never infest the SEALS.

May 23 2014 at 10:32 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
HIGHPOWER

Verry positive and inspiring speech.And to think the Admiral and his uniform would not be allowed to speak at many of the Universities in the U.S. because of the liberal bias . The mantra of the left is" Freedom for everything and everyone until they disagree, and then its shut them up and if that dosn't work its shut them down"

May 23 2014 at 10:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tata92

I never met an atheist on the battlefield. Tata` 92 (Korean war veteran. )
P S Hi!! Grandson Greg ( Navy seal in training in Calif)

May 23 2014 at 10:18 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Joseph W Dramise

Awesome - great advice - we need more leaders that think this way --- without a shawdow of a doubt this country would be a better place if more of us took the Admirals advice. This was one of the best speaches I have heard yet.
Great Job

May 23 2014 at 10:12 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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