I enjoy listening to commencement speeches to see what principles or life experiences can be applied to my own life. With,”Learner,” my second-leading strength in my StrengthsFinder profile, a speaker’s stories or advice can be used to help others as they attempt to solve challenges or overcome obstacles.
I listened to two graduation speeches during the last few weeks. As my oldest son graduated from the Univeristy of Minnesota, I listened to Alise Sjostrom, president of Redhead Creamery, a start-up and family-run cheese company in Minnesota. She emphasized the importance and power of always being kind.
As my youngest graduated from Rockwood Summit High School, Eric Stewart (@estewart026), an instructor in Social Studies and the head football coach, gave the Faculty Address. He emphasized being courageous as young people view various options and decisions in their lives.
The messages were appreciated and memorable. But a commencement speech that continues to resonate with me was given by Admiral William H. McRaven (@billmcraven). Three years ago, he addressed the graduating class of 2014 at the University of Texas, where he would go on to become the Chancellor of the University of Texas system. McRaven provided 10 life lessons he learned during U.S. Navy SEAL training in the late 1970s.
A few weeks ago, a quick glance at the best-selling non-fiction books revealed an usual a title at the top of the list: “Make Your Bed.” The name of the author provided an immediate and clear connection.
McRaven wrote a book based on the commencement speech with more than 4.5 million views on YouTube. (The post, “Why Admiral McRaven’s Commencement Address Is Mandatory Viewing For Memorial Day Weekend,” was based on the talk.) In the book, his personal stories illustrate how he and others lived out the 10 principles in the speech. Included in vivid detail is an accident he suffered when he became entangled in his parachute during a skydiving drill. In addition to the pain he endured, the accident almost ended his military career. He shares the story of a Marine instructor who became paralyzed after a tragic cycling accident and how his positive outlook on life inspired many.
As we celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of our graduates and wish them the best in their future endeavors, I invite you to view McRaven’s speech. Then, as a gesture of encouragement to others, I invite you to share how you’ve lived one or more of these principles in your life. You’re welcome to cut-and-paste one or more of the principles into the comments and write a brief note on how you lived out the principle. By sharing your story, you might help change someone’s direction in life.
- Start off by making your bed.
- Find someone to help you paddle.
- Measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.
- Get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward
- Don’t be afraid of the circuses.
- Sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.
- Don’t back down from the sharks.
- Be your best in the darkest moment.
- Start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.
- Don’t ever ring the bell.
Whether our graduates are entering the workforce or continuing their education at some of the finest institutions in the world, they will encounter challenges and hardships that will test their character and resolve. But we might be able to help a few during these difficult times by reassuring them with a story of resilience or determination.