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Celebrated Navy Seal Shares How to Change the World in Viral Motivational Speech (VIDEO)

"If you wanna change the world, start off by making your bed."

Everyone has the power to change the world.

Admiral William McRaven — arguably the most famous Navy Seal in U.S. history — stood in front of a packed auditorium of nearly 8,000 graduates at his alma mater, the University of Texas in 2014.


He was there to deliver the commencement address.

What he would give instead was a powerful motivational speech to the students and the world.

You have the power to become a better person and to impact the world. And it all starts with your shifting your mindset.

Who is Admiral William H. McRaven?

Most famous for bringing down Osama Bin Laden, McRaven spent 37 years in the Navy Seals. Now retired from military life, the highly decorated US Navy admiral and former commander of US Special Operations Command fought in the Persian Gulf War and Afghanistan.

He has faced off against Somali Pirates, survived a horrific parachuting accident, worked on numerous covert operations with the CIA, and commanded hundreds of night raids on suspected terrorist targets.

RELATED: David Goggins: Half Navy SEAL, Half Superman, All Too Human

But it was the lessons that he learned during basic SEAL training that really stuck with him and helped to shape his life.

And it is these lessons that he shared in his now-viral speech. A speech that has garnered hundreds of millions of views online and inspired people all over the world. And one that he has since turned into a best-selling book, entitled Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life... And Maybe the World.

The Speech that Would Inspire Millions of People to "Make Your Bed"

Goalcast/YouTube

According to McRaven, basic SEAL training consisted of 6 months of "long torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacles courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable."

However, it wasn't just about testing the body's limits, it was about testing the mind's as well. And in order to survive the grueling challenges, you first had to set your mind right.

So, every morning, the instructors (all Vietnam veterans) had the recruits make their beds to perfection.

While this may seem like a small and insignificant task, McRaven argued that it can set the tone for the rest of the day and give you a sense of accomplishment.

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DWC Construction/Twitter

"If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another," McRaven shared.

"By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right."

By doing the little things, you empower yourself to do the big ones.

More Guiding Principles to Help You Change the World

Throughout his nearly 20-minute speech, McRaven emphasized the importance of setting goals, persevering through adversity, facing fears, and never backing down.

He also urged the students to focus on character and integrity and to "measure a person by the size of their heart, not by the size of their flippers."

"If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle."
- Admiral William McRaven

McRaven also shared that during the ninth week of training, known as "Hell Week," he learned the most valuable lesson of all: the power of hope.

Hell Week consists of "six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment, and one special day at the Mud Flats." For 15 hours, recruits are up to their necks in freezing cold mud, howling winds, and the incessant pressure to quit from the instructors. It is enough to break even the strongest of men.

All it takes, the instructors informed them, is five men quitting for the misery to end. Turns out, all it took was one.

With 8 hours left to go, amidst the "chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees," one voice shattered the darkness. And that one voice was everything.

"And then, one voice began to echo through the night, one voice raised in song. The song was terribly out of tune, but sung with great enthusiasm," McRaven shared. "One voice became two and two became three and before long everyone in the class was singing. We knew that if one man could rise above the misery then others could as well."

One voice made all the difference.

The Power of One

It is a lesson that McRaven has witnessed throughout his life. "If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person," he said.

He summed up his speech on how to change the world in just a few words, "Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone," he said.

He went on to remind the audience that failure is inevitable. But it's how you come back from it that matters most.

"But if you 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 the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today."
- Admiral William McRaven

So often we think that one person can't make a difference, however, McRaven tells us otherwise. And history proves it with the likes of George Washington, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, and even a young girl from Pakistan, Malala.

And one Admiral William H. McRaven.

All it takes is changing the life of one person, who changes the life of another, and so on. That's how real change happens. That is how the world becomes a better place.

And it all starts simply, just by making your bed.

13 min

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