Today’s Catalyst Quotes features part of the Commencement Speech given at The University of Texas in Austin (my alma mater) by Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. This is only an excerpt of the speech; however this small part does not convey the full meaning of his speech. He imparts ten lessons that he learned from basic SEAL training with hopes that they would be of value to the graduating class as they move forward in life. I encourage everyone to click on the link or cut and paste and watch the complete speech.
“The University’s slogan is, ‘What starts here changes the world.’
I have to admit—I kinda like it. ‘What starts here changes the world.’
Tonight there are almost 8,000 students graduating from UT.
That great paragon of analytical rigor, Ask.Com says that the average American will meet 10,000 people in their life time. That’s a lot of folks.
But, if every one of you changed the lives of just ten people—and each one of those folks changed the lives of another ten people — just ten — then in five generations — 125 years — the class of 2014 will have changed the lives of 800 million people.
800 million people — think of it — over twice the population of the United States. Go one more generation and you can change the entire population of the world—8 billion people.
If you think it’s hard to change the lives of ten people — change their lives forever — you’re wrong. I saw it happen every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A young Army officer makes a decision to go left instead of right down a road in Baghdad and the ten soldiers in his squad are saved from close-in ambush.
In Kandahar province, Afghanistan, a non-commissioned officer from the Female Engagement Team senses something isn’t right and directs the infantry platoon away from a 500 pound IED, saving the lives of a dozen soldiers.
But, if you think about it, not only were these soldiers saved by the decisions of one person, but their children yet unborn — were also saved. And their children’s children—were saved.
Generations were saved by one decision—by one person.
But changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it.
So, what starts here can indeed change the world, but the question is … what will the world look like after you change it?
To the graduating class of 2014, you are moments away from graduating. Moments away from beginning your journey through life. Moments away starting to change the world — for the better.
It will not be easy.
But, YOU are the class of 2014 — the class that can affect the lives of 800 million people in the next century.
Start each day with a task completed.
Find someone to help you through life.
Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up — if you do these things, then next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and — what started here will indeed have changed the world — for the better.” (Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, at the University-wide Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin on May 17, 2014)
Link to Commencement Address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxBQLFLei70