In his book Make Your Bed, former Navy SEAL Admiral William McRaven told a story about when he and his classmates were sitting chest-deep, covered from head to toe in a layer of cold wet mud, in the infamous Tijuana Mud Flats during Hell Week of SEAL training. The week consisted of long grueling runs, open oceans swims, obstacle courses, rope climbs, endless sessions of calisthenics, and constant paddling of small inflatable boats. The purpose was to eliminate the weak. They had already endured hours of bone-chilling cold—then came nightfall and the temperature dropped, making it even more excruciating. Morale was rapidly declining. Sounding like an old friend, one of their instructors talked softly into a bullhorn letting them know that they could stop at any time and join him by the fire for some hot coffee and chicken soup. There was one catch—five people had to quit before the rest could have some relief.
McRaven said the cadet next to him started to move toward the instructor, but he grabbed his arm and tried to stop him. The urge to leave was too great, and the guy broke free. Suddenly, above the howl of the wind came a lone voice, singing out—tired and raspy, but loud enough for the others to hear it. The tune was familiar and soon one voice joined in, then another and another, and before long everyone was singing. The guy who had been rushing for dry ground suddenly wheeled around and found his place back in line, singing along at the top of his lungs with the others. The irate instructor grabbed the bullhorn and yelled at them to quit singing, but they refused. With every threat, their voices grew stronger along with their will, which became unbreakable in the darkness. They all learned an important lesson that night: “The power of one person to unite the group, the power of one person to inspire those around him, to give them hope.”
Never underestimate the power of one voice to make a difference—your voice. It can literally inspire a change in the way of life for an entire community, perhaps even the world. Too many people live their lives in a state of quiet resignation, deferring their dreams and making excuses that their voice won’t make a difference. Don’t let that happen to you. Accept that you have a unique and special voice that is overflowing with possibilities.
What gives you hope? What is bubbling below the surface that arouses passion in you? Find your voice. Start singing—and when you do, don’t be surprised when others begin to join in. You have the ability to inspire hope. Stand up and be the one to ignite a movement. You can’t light up someone else’s path without brightening your own.