THE NAVY SEAL SPEECH THAT CHANGED MY LIFE (PART 2)
A continuation of the speech….
This is the continuation of the speech made by General William McRaven, a Navy Seal who made a speech that was heard all over the world.
I’m not a Seal. If I were younger, I’ll consider the options, but it’s past my prime already.
I worked with Department of Defense funded researches, but that’s about it. I’m not in the army or the navy, but writing this piece is my closest for me to be in the army.
Click for the first part of the speech here.
At ease soldier and carry on reading the speech….
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At least twice a week the trainees were required to run the obstacle course. The obstacle course contained 25 obstacles including the 10 foot wall, a 30 foot cargo net, a barbwire crawl to name a few, but the most challenging obstacle was the slide for life.
It had a three level 30 foot tower at one end and a one level tower at the other in between was a 200 foot long rope. You had to climb the three tiered tower and once at the top you grabbed the rope, swung underneath the rope, and pulled herself hand over hand until you got to the other end.
The record for the obstacle course had stood for years. When my class began in 1977 the records seemed unbeatable until one day a student decided to go down the slide for life headfirst. Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down, he bravely mounted the top of the rope and thrust himself forward.
It was a dangerous move, seemingly foolish and fraught with risk. Failure could be an injury and being dropped from the course without hesitation. The students slid down the rope perilously fast instead of several minutes. It only took them half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record.
If you want to change the world, sometimes you have to slide down the obstacles head first.
(There are times that you just need to tackle the problem head first. I remember the pioneers here in the world.
I always admired Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. I hate seeing them winning all the time but Curry re-invented basketball. To me, he eliminated the center by shooting a higher percentage in the three point line. He tackled the problem head first by getting better in 3-points.)
During the land warfare phase of training, the students are flown out to San Clemente island, which lies off the coast of San Diego.
The water is a breeding ground for the great white sharks. To pass seal training, there are a series of long swims that must be completed. One is the night swim.
Before the swim. The instructor joyfully briefed the students on all the species of sharks that inhabit the waters off San Clemente. They assure you, however, that no student has ever been eaten by a shark, at least not that they can remember, but you were also taught that if a shark begins to circle your position, stand your ground, do not swim away, do not act afraid.
And if the shark hungry for a midnight snack, darts towards you, then summons up all your strength and punch him in the snout and he will turn and swim away.
There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim, you will have to deal with them.
So if you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.
(I remember reading an article of a soccer player from Africa. He was gaining popularity because of his talent, but the people in the soccer system were corrupt and greedy. He told the interviewer that he survive the shark infested waters by being strong.
And I believe it’s through in real life, you have to be strong to tackle the sharks in your life.)
As Navy Seals, one of our jobs is to conduct underwater attacks against enemies shipping. We practice this technique. It’s extensive during the training. The ship attack mission is where a pair of seal divers are dropped off outside and enemy harbor and then swims well over two miles underwater using nothing but a depth gauge and a compass to get to the target.
During the entire swim even well below the surface, there is some light that comes through. It is comforting to know that there is an open water above you, but as you approach the ship, which is tied to a pier, the light begins to fade.
The steel structure of the ship blocks the moonlight. It blocks the surrounding street lamps. It blocks all ambient light. To be successful in your mission, you have to swim under the ship and find the keel, the center line, and the deepest part of the ship.
This is your objective, but the keel is also the darkest part of the ship where you cannot see your hand in front of your face or the noise from the ship’s machinery is deafening and where it gets to be easily disoriented and you can fail.
Every seal knows that under the keel, at the darkest moment of the mission is a time when you need to be calm, when you must be calm and collected, when you must be composed, when all your tactical skills, your physical power, and your inner strength must be brought to bear.
If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moments.
(I always see parallel lessons in sports. And if you followed basketball in the 1990s, you’ve probably heard Michael Jordan finishing the game even with a flu-like symptoms.
Those were the darkest moments of his career, but he knew he needed to shine.)
The Ninth Week of training is referred to as the hell week. It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental, and one special day at the mud flats, the mud flats or an area between San Diego and Tijuana where the rough water runs off and creates the Tijuana slews, a swampy patch of terrain where the mud will engulf.
Here it is on Wednesday of Hell Week. Once you’re paddle down into the mud flats, you’ll spend the next 15 hours trying to survive this freezing cold, the howling wind and the incessant pressure to quit from the instructors.
As the sun began to set that Wednesday evening, my training class, having committed some egregious infraction of the rules, was ordered into the mud. The mud consumed each man until there was nothing visible but our heads instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit. Only five men, just five men, and we could get out of the oppressive cold.
Looking around the mud flat, it was apparent that some students were about to give up. It was still over eight hours till the sun came up. Eight more hours of bone chilling cold, chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud, it was hard to hear anything.
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. One voice became two and two became three and before long everyone in the class was singing.
The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing, but the singing persisted and somehow the mud seemed a little warmer and the wind a little tamer and the dawn, not so far away.
If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person, a Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela, and even a young girl from Pakistan, Malala.
One person can change the world by giving people hope.
So if you want to change the world, start singing when your neck is in mud.
Finally, in a seal training, there is a bell, a brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see. All you have to do quit. All you have to do to quit is ring the bell.
Ring the Bell, and you no longer have to wake up at five o’clock, ring the bell and you no longer have to be in the freezing cold swims. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT, and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training.
All you have to do is ring the bell to get out.
If you want to change the world, don’t ever ever ring the bell.
It will not be easy. Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail. But if you take some risks, step up from the time she was the toughest face down, the bullies. Lift up the downtrodden and never ever give up. If you do these things, the next generation and the generations that follow, we’ll 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. Thank you very much.