Many may not be able to relate Admiral William H. McRaven’s key points to fitness.
It may seem strange to some that a Navy SEAL admiral’s speech can have anything to do with fitness, strength conditioning, and the coaching and training of athletes.
But just like Admiral McRaven said, those lessons he learned are lessons that can be applied equally to all. The key points of Admiral McRaven’s commencement speech can be summarized as follows:
10 Strong Points for Self Improvement:
- Start by doing the smallest thing right.
- Look for someone to help you out through life.
- Respect other people.
- Life is not fair, but you have to move forward.
- You’ll fail most of the time, but you must get back up again.
- Sometimes, you have to take some risks.
- Face down the bullies.
- Raise yourself up in rough times.
- Encourage the helpless and dejected.
- Don’t ever give up or give in.
Considering these things, you can see that the ten key points or life lessons that McRaven offered in his commencement speech are all simple words of wisdom…
…basic things they should know in order to have a quality life and be a better person who can make even a small difference in this world.
These are all universal truths a person is encouraged to apply in his life. In the end, what the key points are all about is being a responsible person that strives no matter what problems are in front of him and then leads others to do the same. It’s about never giving up in life despite the hardships. It’s about facing down your enemy and raising yourself again after failure or defeat. It’s about boldness of act and staking everything to achieve your dreams. When you think about fitness and health or strength conditioning or perhaps the training of athletes, you’ll see that what they do does not only involve physical conditioning, but…
…mental conditioning as well. They need to toughen their mental state to be able to go through rigorous fitness training for health and sport reasons. The ten key points can be perfectly applied to this.
“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”
The first thing that military personnel are instructed to do is to make their bed. Not just make it, but make it right. Right means the covers are pulled tight, the corners are squared, the pillow is put in the center under the headboard and the extra blanket is neatly folded at the foot of the rack—which is the Navy’s bed. Doing this may seem ordinary and mundane to many, but to them, it was a task that demanded perfection. That simple act holds wisdom that many will understand.
Making your bed is the very first task that a person does at the start of his day. Making it right, according to Admiral McRaven, means that you have exceptionally accomplished the very first thing that you need to do. By doing this, you’d feel encouraged to do the rest of your tasks with a smile on your face and with a goal of accomplishing them. Not being able to do as simple a task as making your bed will have meant that bigger things will be harder for you to do. Additionally, if your day did not end quite right, you will find comfort and encouragement that tomorrow can be better than today.
“If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.”
Admiral McRaven said that for you to change the world, you need to find someone to help you paddle. It is said that no man can live alone in this world. Everyone needs someone, at least someone, to help carry their load, to encourage them to move forward, to guide them on where to go and just to be there when you feel like you’re all alone.
Everyone needs someone like that. It may be a loved one, a friend, a colleague or even a stranger on the road. For you to make it to wherever you want to go and to achieve what you want to achieve, there will always be a time that you will need the goodwill and help of others.
“If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.”
You can measure a person by many things, but you can never measure him by the way he looks or his physical incapability. The only thing that matters is the size of his heart and what is in it. Not the way he dresses, not how tall he is or the way he speaks, but what he strives for in his life.
No one should ever judge a person by his weakness or his strength. Those things are shallow. Nothing matters but courage and resolve – the courage to face any adversity and the resolve to stand by it. The heart is always the center of it.
“If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.”
In the military, several times a week there will be a uniform inspection. Everything is to be inspected and everything has to be perfect, from the hat to the uniform and the belt buckle. Everyone puts forth their effort to make everything perfect, but the instructors always seem to find something wrong and when they do, you’ll have to run at the surf zone then roll over at the beach until you’re fully covered with sand, which they call “sugar cookie.” Many just cannot accept that after all they’ve done, their efforts remain unappreciated.
Life sometimes is cruel. There will always be a time that your hard work will be in vain and no matter what you do, you will never be good enough. People will always find something wrong with you and criticize you for it. Sometimes, even if you do your best, you’ll still end up a “sugar cookie.” All you can do is move forward and accept life as it is.
“But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.”
In the basic Navy training, cadets are often tried with many physical challenges that will test their determination. When some do not meet the standards, they will have to go to “circus.” Circus means the additional exercises that were designed to break you and to make you quit. No one wants it for it means your efforts were not good enough. It means work for the following day to come, but those that make it to the circus list have interesting things to happen to them. They become stronger and resilient and their spirits are not easily broken.
Life indeed is full of circuses. Many times you’ll fail and lose. Many times you’ll break down and many times you’ll be hurt. You’ll feel discouraged, but you must not succumb to it. It is all a test. Don’t be afraid of it. Instead, face it head-on because everything was designed to make you stronger, not weak.
“If you want to change the world, sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.”
Success does not come to people who are afraid of consequences. They come to those who dare to act and take risks. In life, even if you are afraid, even if you want to back down, there are times that you have to gather all your courage and face enmity directly. Life has to be lived courageously. You cannot remain in your comfort zone forever.
You cannot always seek certainty and security because life is not certain. You never know what will happen and you never know what will be the end unless you have the courage and the resolve to seek it. To attain success, you need more than just skill, ability or knowledge. Sometimes, you also need the guts to face adversity head-on. If you want to spark change, then be bold enough to begin it.
“So, If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.”
In this world, there are those people who seemingly enjoy seeing others on the edge. They are always “hungry” for people to become victims of their selfish and wicked intentions. In times like that, don’t act afraid. If you do, you’re letting them see your weaknesses. What you need to do is to stand your ground. Summon your courage and let them see that you are not someone whose cage is easily rattled.
You must not back down from them or else you’ll continue to fall victim to their wicked deeds. You have to stand even if standing is not easy. There are many of them out there. If you hope to win this game of life, you’ll have to deal with them.
“If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.”
It is in your darkest hour that you have to be your best for, in most times, you can only rely on yourself. Life is a cycle of varying events. There are good times and bad times. There are those moments when you think you cannot keep moving forward anymore. There are also those exhilarating moments of happiness and love. There are many moments of despair and there are many moments of victory.
Your life often is like a roller-coaster ride of joy, misery, love and pain. Many moments you’ll find it hard to continue, but you have to because that is your “mission” in life, to continue moving forward even in your moment of despair. Just remember that even the darkest hour only has sixty minutes. No matter how dark that pit you have fallen into is, tell yourself never to quit. It is in the darkest moment of your life that you have to be calm and composed, for that will be the time that every shred of you will be tested.
“So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.”
Life has many challenges and trials ahead. There are pain, sadness, suffering, failure, defeat and many other negative feelings. With all these, people at times cannot hold on and fall when faced with so much misery. As a result, they try things to relieve themselves from the pain. They resort to drugs, alcohol and many other things to escape from the harsh realities of life. In their minds, there is no hope for them.
That is not true, for if there is one thing that this world is not short of, its hope. No matter how hopeless a situation may be or no matter how miserable life could be, there will always be a light that will shine. Most of the time, in the midst of that dark hour, a voice will always be heard, a voice from one person with the power to give people hope.
“If you want to change the world, don’t ever, ever ring the bell.”
The bell represents the idea of quitting. In SEAL training, they have this bell that they can ring when they want to quit. They just have to ring it and they no longer have to go on with all the hardships of training. No more waking up at five o’clock, no more long runs and no more cold swims. All they have to do is ring the bell.
Life with its ups and downs can compel you to quit. Don’t. Don’t ring your bell. Those times that you quit could be the times when you almost win. Don’t quit, for despite the hardships, the pain and the misery, there are always those happy moments that are more important than the rest.
With all these things, then maybe those next generations that will follow will have a better world to live in and you will be glad in yourself that you are one of those who helped make a better world.