Defying What Keeps Us Small..One Act at a Time
“The only thing that exists is quality….everything else that exists is what exists before quality exists“ Hilda Shipper Israel
Admiral William H. McRaven gave an inspiring Commencement Speech at the University of Texas Austin in 2014. His wisdom inspired this post.
Beginning with a standard that simple things done well builds greatness is something that Navy Seals understand only too well. Boot camp began each day at 4 am with a bugle and a perfectly made bed. How we begin and end a day and what standards we hold ourselves to create a quagmire or greatness one act at a time.
Several simple standards Defy the ‘Small’ and Build Greatness:
- Sloppy beginnings create sloppy endings – do it right, right now and it builds the floor for better.
- The burdens you leave for others to clean up, become your burdens, consider who your actions affect.
- When you correct a person for the ‘joy’ of being right, you sabotage yourself, true correction comes from the desire to positively rebuild another, not make them wrong.
- It’s important to have days when you barely keep your head above water and struggle. The desire to complain is an energy killer. These struggle days force you to look upwards, hope and pray. On a bad day train yourself to choose hope and prayer. Those that hope sustain and find a way.
Good Beginnings – Good Endings
With Navy Seals, there was no forgiveness for an imperfect bed, and no room for a roll call without polished boots, a starched hat, and a perfectly pressed uniform. Your day was as good as you started it. If you didn’t want 100 push ups before your oatmeal then you exercised due diligence. The standard: Sloppy beginnings make sloppy endings. Start well and you finish well.
We Burden Ourselves When We Burden Another – Make Choices Based on Caring for Everyone Affected by Your Actions
We think the world doesn’t see it when we leave the shopping cart by the car because it’s raining, or because it’s too much trouble to roll it back to the cart caddy.
The truth is it doesn’t matter who sees it. We see it and remember that we made a bigger burden for someone else. Our comfort in that moment was more important than someone else’s. The standard: When we make more work for someone else with our half completed choices, our unconscious keeps doing that work all day. We burden ourselves and we burden another unnecessarily. Make your choices based on caring for all affected by your actions and everyone wins.
Being ‘Right’ Does Not Produce Positive Results – Only Speak if Your Total Intent is to Lift the Other Person Up
When you found a reason to correct someone, did you do it to make them wrong (and get the pleasure of being right)? Or did you do it in a way to bring learning and lift the other person up? The standard: Tearing down another person for the ‘joy’ of being right, tears two people down. What we do out of righteousness turns and sabotages us later. This type of correction rarely produces positive change. Only correct from a place of desiring to lift a person up.
You’re Supposed to Have Days When it All Falls Apart – How Else Would you Know the Necessity of Hope in Something Higher?
Near the end of SEAL training, there is a day when those in training are required to swim all day in the mud flats. They are soaked, miserable, cold, covered with mud, and are constantly offered chances to raise their hands and get rescued and brought to warmth. If they accept the offer…they are not a SEAL. Several hours in, when exhaustion and morale were dangerously low, someone in the group began singing. The singing caught fire and everyone began to sing.
Those at the shore threatened everyone if they did not stop singing. Everyone sang anyway for the last few hours. The songs just kept coming, bringing hope and lifting people up in their worst hour. Everyone made it out of the mud flats as a Navy SEAL…no one raised their arms to be rescued. The standard: When all is going wrong, turn on hope and prayer and pass it on. Keep hoping and watch the situation change!
Simple habits mastered and performed regularly build the greatness in our character. Choose greatness one simple act at a time!