With the American flag behind him and the future of the U.S. Navy sprawled out across the field before him, President Donald Trump stood beaming on stage at the United States Naval Academy's 2018 graduation ceremony earlier today.
Delivering a commencement speech that touched upon the importance of the military, his own efforts to increase defense resources, and how good it feels to win, Trump's message was at times unfocused, but it wasn't void of inspirational takeaways. The businessman-turned-politician offered two universal pieces of advice that resonate regardless of politics and should be kept in mind for those embarking upon new ventures.
Learn from your heroes
As one of the most competitive colleges in the nation, there has been no shortage of talent gracing the halls of the U.S. Naval Academy with many alumni going on to leave tenured legacies. Trump told the story of one such former student, Bruce Voorhees, a member of the academy's class of 1929 and a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Voorhees died in an attempt to defend American forces from a surprise attack and was caught in the blast of his own bombs: "He knew full-well that he would likely never return. He knew he was going to die. But he also knew his daring action could prevent a surprise attack on large-scale American forces."
Trump emphasized the bravery demonstrated by Voorhees and his hope that today's graduating class would embody the same trait, learning from their surroundings and squeezing every ounce of wisdom and history from the great achievements of those who preceded them.
"Each of you inherits the legacy of the heroes who came before you," said Trump. "It's a living history passed down from officer to officer and generation to generation. Each of you will make your own mark on the Navy, the Marine Corps, the military, and the history of our great nation."
This advice isn't just unique to military or Naval officers, it is applicable to anyone in any industry. Find people whom you respect, learn their stories, and do what you can to honor and emulate their legacies.
'Don't give up on the ship'
Drawing from his copious experience in business, Trump advised the crowd: "Don't give up on the ship."
"It's a famous phrase, we even use it in business. If things are going bad, we say 'don't give up on the ship,'" he explained. "Our country cannot prevail without those who rally."
In any new endeavor, you will find yourself face-to-face with great challenges, but a captain cannot leave his ship. When it comes to business, there are going to be many times when you'll want to jettison a project. But instead of bailing when the future seems bleak, if you believe in what you are doing, hold on. Ride out the storm, Trump says.
"You know that as long as we are proud of who we are and what we're fighting for, we will not fail. We cannot fail. We will always succeed. Always," Trump said, nearing the end of his time on stage.
The speech, like any business deal, ended with a handshake. Except it wasn't just one handshake. Trump shook the hand of each individual Naval Academy graduate--welcoming over 1,000 uniform-clad former students to the rest of their lives in a way that they will likely never forget.