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#ISC2Congress: Military Hero Shares Tips for a Successful Life

Retired US Navy four-star admiral William McRaven offered guidance on how to succeed in life as he delivered the closing keynote address at the (ISC)² Security Congress in Orlando, Florida. 

Drawing from memories of his exceptional 37-year military career, McRaven encouraged the rapt crowd to embrace teamwork, take risks, and be prepared to fail if they want to reach their goals. 

McRaven played a key role in thousands of dangerous overseas missions, overseeing the capture of Saddam Hussein and the raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.

Speaking at the security conference on Wednesday, McRaven shared a number of lessons drilled into Navy SEALs as they go through their almost inconceivably tough initial training, such as "Life's not fair; get over it."

After advising attendees to start every day by making their bed, McRaven said: "Making the bed is recognizing that the little things in life matter. If you can't even make your bed, how are you ever going to lead a complex mission?"

McRaven told the crowd how he broke his back and pelvis in a parachute accident that occurred during a 1,000-foot freefall exercise in the summer of 2001. During the long months of recuperation that followed, McRaven was kept in good spirits through his family's loving care and the frequent visits he received from friends and colleagues. 

"Make as many friends as you can, have as many colleagues as you can, and take care of as many strangers as you can, as someday they may come back and take care of you," McRaven advised the audience.

McRaven implored the crowd to never miss the opportunity to inspire someone, because it can have a cascading effect. He shared a particularly uplifting story from his own life, which occurred when he met a young man in the 25th Infantry Unit.

The soldier had recently returned from Iraq after an Explosively Formed Projectile (EFP) entered the vehicle in which he was traveling. The vehicle's other occupants all lost their lives that day. The young soldier lost all four of his limbs. 

As McRaven tried to think of something to say to the quadriplegic soldier, he found himself battling with feelings of pity and remorse. To his amazement, the young man said to him: "Sir, I'm 24 years old. I'm going to be just fine."

"I never forgot that," said McRaven. "That young man, that day, inspired me a way that few people have."

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