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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

May 17, 2016

Reflections and Life Lessons

Submitted by Daryl Buchholz

Daryl Buchholz

Graduation season is upon us, and it reminds me of a commencement speech at the University of Texas, Austin in 2014 by US Navy admiral William H. McRaven. It took on a special meaning for me personally, as it was two years ago when my daughter and son-in-law lost their new born baby after 12 precious days with him. We were there in Ohio with them throughout that time. The morning after the funeral, my daughter came down to breakfast where I was having coffee. She told me she didn’t know what to do with herself. After all the planning and appointments, 10 days at the hospital and two days at home, and now regular old life was staring her in the face. She didn’t know how she would cope. She was concerned that she wouldn’t even be able to pull herself out of bed each morning.

I had happened to watch Admiral McRaven’s commencement address a few days earlier, and was struck by his message to the graduating class, and that message somehow came to mind that morning with my daughter. I suggested to Joan that as she gets up to see to it that she makes her bed every morning. That way, she would have accomplished a task for the day, and something for which to take a little pride. If nothing else seemed right in the day or that nothing was being accomplished, when she headed to bed that night, she could at least know that ONE thing had been accomplished on that day. We talked about the other life lessons from McRaven’s speech as well.

Oddly, Joan had never watched his commencement address until now, two years later. And, she shared that she continues to make her bed (almost) every day.

How a US Navy admiral could shape the lessons he learned in becoming a Navy Seal into life lessons for all people is truly inspirational. "While these lessons were learned during my time in the military, I can assure you that it matters not whether you ever served a day in uniform," McRaven told students. "It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status." And, if you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

I hope you might take a few minutes to follow this link and listen to Admiral McRaven’s message. I’m confident that one of the ten life lessons he shares will strike a chord with you. I’d love to hear your reflections on his message.

Congratulations to all the graduates. All the very best to each of you. And, have a wonderful week.