Make Your Bed

by William H. McRaven

Admiral McRaven's Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life . . . And Maybe The World is a reminder good things do do come in small packages. This book -- part encouragement, part kick in the butt, and always well-intended wisdom -- is the expanded insight from a powerful commencement speech Admiral McRaven delivered to the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin (May 17, 2014). 

McRaven draws on his own SEAL experiences and those of his comrades to impart life lessons. His book is more boot-camp reality than lofty piety. This is very much a "you can do it" and "stop complaining while you're at it" philosophy of life. He begins with a simple idea, "If you want to change the world, START OFF BY MAKING YOUR BED." 

I appreciate his, "It is the little things that matter" message. I like his gritty tone. It is refreshing in our comfort-oriented, gate-guarded, multiple air-bagged, pillow-top society. But he definitely left me feeling, "I better get with it." Why? Because apart from my efforts and those of my buddies, I'm on my own in this universe. 

5 Great Lines:

1. You can't go it alone: After a parachuting accident tore apart his body and almost ended his life, he writes: "None of us are immune from life's tragic moments. Like the small rubber boat we had in basic SEAL training, it takes a team of good people to get you to your destination. You cannot paddle the boat alone." 21 

2. Prove me wrong (after a 5' 4" SEAL recruit bested many others and proved his Navy instructor wrong in a grueling ocean swim): "SEAL training was always about proving something. Proving that size didn't matter. Proving that the color of your skin wasn't important. Proving that money didn't make you better. Proving that determination and grit were always more important than talent. I was fortunate to learn that lesson...." p.27-28.

3. Life's not fair! Drive on (after SEAL Moki Martin spent 35 years in a wheel chair): "Never once did I hear him ask, 'Why me?' . . . It is easy to blame your lot in life on some outside force, to stop trying because you believe fate is against you. . . . Sometimes no matter how hard you try, no matter how good you are, you still end up as a sugar cookie. Don't complain . . . . Stand tall, look to the future, and drive on!" 42

Failure: "I sometimes fell short of being the best, but I never fell short of giving it my best." 53

5. Hope: "We knew that if one man could rise above the misery, then others could as well. The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing, but the singing persisted. And some how the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer, and the dawn not so far away. If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope." 123