Go Change the World

On May 17, 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven (U.S. Navy Retired) gave the commencement address to the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin. At the time he was Chancellor of the entire UT System. A few months later, a close friend recommended it to me during a dark time that made prison seem like a walk in the park. It can be seen here. If you're not one of the more than 8 million who have seen it, it is definitely worth 20 minutes, which is slightly longer than a good sermon and shorter than one that's too long.

In the address, McRaven took the university's slogan, "What happens here changes the world," and offered the graduates 10 principles that could help them do exactly that. These were all principles he had learned shortly after graduating from UT in 1977 while enduring and completing the rigors of Navy Seal training, where 150 of the best of the best went for 6 months. At completion, 33 graduated.

The first principle was, "If you want to change the world, start each day by making up your bed." If you do that, you'll have accomplished the first task of the day, and a simple task completed will lead to another, then another. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things matter. If you can't do the little things right, you won't do the big things right, and you'll never change the world.

Three years after that commencement, McRaven expanded the 10 principles of his address into the book Make Your Bed. In it he humbly recounts stories from his 37-year career as a Navy Seal, stories of risky and painful experiences demanding difficult, often split-second decisions, all faced with fortitude, valor, and honor, and all taken from his own life and the heroes with whom he served. He retired from military service a Four Star Admiral and commander of all Special Operations Forces.

I've read hundreds of books while at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp, none more inspirational than Make Your Bed. It's the perfect read for the Fourth of July. Once you start it, my sense is that you will finish it that day. For it's never too late to change your life for the better...and maybe the world...after you make up your bed.