10 Ways to Change Your World – by a Retired Navy SEAL Admiral
Start where you are. Sometimes you wake up ready to hit the pavement, ready to hit the ground running, and ready to change the world. Other days your bed gets made and that’s about it.
Retired U.S. Navy Admiral William H. McRaven outlines 10 points to change the world that he learned in SEAL training.
1. If you want to change the world, start by making your bed.
Warriors should make their bed. There is a small sense of pride in accomplishing this first task of the day. This first task turns into many. If you can’t do the little things right, you can’t do the big things right. And if your day ends poorly, at least you come home to a bed made. And that can give you hope for tomorrow.
2. If you want to change the world, you better find someone to help you paddle.
During BUDS he was required to have support from his boat crew. Each crew was 7 students, 3 on each side of the boat and one coxswain to guide the dingy. Required to paddle many miles each day with this boat crew he knew the importance of everyone digging in and assisting in the paddle.
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 the great equalizer. There were men from all parts of the world, at all shapes, sizes and heights. They all worked hard, but there was one specific boat crew made of men no taller than 5’5. The men often joked this small boat crew was marked by their small flippers crashing through the waves. This was the crew they all gunned after. This was the crew that always finished first.
4. If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie.
Every morning started with a uniform inspection that simply could not be passed. This was followed by wading in and out of the surf of the beach, and rolling in the sand. The sand being caked to a wet uniform was known as becoming a ‘sugar cookie’. The purpose of this was to garner discipline, and for the instructors to simply evaluate who could accept this grueling ritual. You were never going to succeed, instructors weren’t going to allow it. Some students could not accept that their efforts were in vain. They did not finish the course.
5. If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circus. Every day of training was created to test your mettle. It was full of training, tasks and times to meet. If you failed to meet those times your name was put on a list. The names on this list were called to join a ‘circus’. The circus was repetitive tasks formed to drill down the mind, the body and determination to succeed. But what happened to the men on those list was interesting. Those on the list got stronger, got faster; improved.
6. If you want to change the world, sometimes you have to slide down the obstacles headfirst.
Sometimes the training required overcoming a series of obstacles. One specific obstacle was called the slide for life. It was a 3 level, 30 foot tower. Connected to one end was a 200 foot rope. The task was to grab the rope and swing, then pull hand over hand to get to the other end. When Admiral McRaven (R) was in training, the record for time had stood since 1977. One student decided to go down headfirst. He risked injury, failure, but he pursued without hesitation. This new technique to this age old obstacle allowed him to break the long standing record.
7. If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks. SEAL training is full of long swims. The instructors were sure to tell the students that, according to their most recent memories, no shark had ever eaten a student. But in the event that sharks begin to surround the students, they were to remember a few simple rules. Stand your ground, don’t back down, and should the shark take a lung, punch him square in the snout.
8. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moments. One particular training exercise required the SEAL student to venture to the deep, to the very bottom of the ship. This is where light is blocked, and water is deep. This place is known as the keel, and it is well known that this is the darkest part of the ship. It is easy to become disoriented in this area. You need to be calm, and composed. Your tactical skills must be at the ready.
9. If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.
The most notorious portion of SEAL training is Hell Week. This is a week of no sleep, freezing cold and howling winds. The pressure from the instructors to quit was ever increasing. One specific ‘training area’ was known as the mud flats. The class was ordered into the mudflats, up to their neck in the freezing cold muck, with one promise from the instructors. If 5 men quit, they could come out of the mud flats. With the look of despair and the urge to quit on some men’s faces, one man began to sing. Singing out of tune, but the enthusiasm caught on and soon every man in the mud flats was singing at the top of his lungs. The instructors promised more pain if the singing continued, but the men pressed on, and no one quit coming out of those mud flats.
10. If you want to change the world, don’t ever ring the bell.
The only way to quit SEAL training, outside of an injury, is to ring the bell. The bell looms over every student. It promises an end to training, an end to the cold, the aching muscles and the instructors. It promises a warm cup of coffee and no more running.
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