Life Lessons on Failure from Naval Adm. William H. McRaven


Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, BJ '77, ninth commander of U.S.Special Operations Command, Texas Exes Life Member, and Distinguished Alumnus.

“While these lessons were learned in my time in the military, I can assure you that it matters not whether you ever served a day in uniform, it matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status. Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward changing ourselves and changing the world around us will apply equally to all.”

“If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right.”

“You can’t change the world alone, you will need some help.”

“If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.”

“You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform, the instructors weren’t going to allow it. Sometimes no matter how well you prepare, or how well you perform, you still end up a sugar cookie. It’s just the way life is sometimes. If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.”

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“You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.”

“There are a lot of sharks in the world, if you want to change the world don’t back down from the sharks.”

“If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moments.”

“One person can change the world by giving people hope. If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in the mud.”

“If you want to change the world, don’t ever ever ring the bell.”

“Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair, that you will fail often but if you take some risks, step up when the times are 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 generation to follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.”