My book club hosted a new format this January: each participant had to bring forth something they had read during the year that moved or inspired them. My favorite pick of the evening was not a book, poem or short story. Rather, it was an adaptation of this year’s University of Texas commencement address, delivered by Adam. William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. Adm. McRaven spent six months in basic Navy SEAL training then went on to serve 36 years as a SEAL. The full version of the address can be found by following this link:


What I found particularly moving was the fact that while the lessons he learned took place while serving in the military, they are applicable to any and all of us, whether we served a day or not.


The lesson he articulated first may astound you: If you want to change the world, make your bed every day. He goes on to say that completing this, the first task of the day, sets you up for accomplishing all of the tasks ahead of you. It will “encourage” you to do another task, and then another. Isn’t changing the world simply a long string of successfully completed tasks?

Another notable lesson: SEAL training is a great equalizer; nothing mattered but your will to succeed.

Adm. McRaven mentions a crew boat filled with height-challenged men, none taller than 5’5”. These munchkins, as he referred to them, out-paddled, out-ran and outswam all of the other boats. “If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.”

I found great inspiration in the commencement address and hope you will as well.