“On May 17, 2014, I was honored to give the commencement speech for the graduating class from the University of Texas at Austin. Even though the university was my alma mater, I was concerned that a military officer, whose career had been defined by war, might not find a welcoming audience among college students. But to my great surprise, the graduating class embraced the speech. The ten lessons I learned from Navy SEAL training, which were the basis for my remarks, seemed to have a universal appeal. They were simple lessons that deal with overcoming the trials of SEAL training, but the ten lessons were equally important in dealing with the challenges of life—no matter who you are. Over the past three years, I have been stopped on the street by great folks telling me their own stories: How they didn’t back down from sharks, how they didn’t ring the bell, or how making their bed every morning helped them through tough times. They all wanted to know more about how the ten lessons shaped my life and about the people who inspired me during my career. This small book is an attempt to do so. Each chapter gives a little more context to the individual lessons and also adds a short story about some of the people who inspired me with their discipline, their perseverance, their honor, and their courage. I hope you enjoy the book!”
~ Admiral William H. McRaven from Make Your Bed
Admiral William H. McRaven is a Retired U.S. Navy SEAL who served for thirty-seven years and commanded at every level.
As a Four-Star Admiral, his final assignment was as Commander of all U.S. Special Operations Forces. (During this time, he oversaw the covert mission that killed Osama bin Laden.)
After retiring from the Navy, he served as the Chancellor of the University of Texas System from 2015 to 2018.
In 2014, he gave the commencement address to the graduates of the University of Texas at Austin. Millions of people wound up watching his speech on ten lessons he learned from his Navy SEAL training. (You can watch it on YouTube here.)
This book takes a deeper look at those ten lessons. It’s a super-quick read—packed with simple, yet profound wisdom along with moving stories of moral exemplars. As per the sub-title: “Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World.” Joining 5,000+ 5-star reviewers on Amazon, I HIGHLY recommend it. (Get a copy here.)
I have a deep level of respect for and admiration of Navy SEALs. As I was reading this book I thought of some of the other Notes we’ve created on books written by SEALs, including: Mark Divine’s The Way of the SEAL, Unbeatable Mind plus Staring Down the Wolf—where he uses McRaven as an exemplar for one of his stories); Jocko Willink and Leif Babin’s Extreme Ownership (plus Jocko’s Discipline Equals Freedom); David Goggins’ Can’t Hurt Me; and Alden Mills’ Be Unstoppable and Unstoppable Teams.
I also thought of Vice-Admiral James Stockdale’s Courage Under Fire—which is another super-short yet remarkably wise book. (Plus: Notes on Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot.)
The book is packed with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share some of my favorites so let’s jump in!
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