Starting your day by making your bed may seem like a straightforward task, but its significance extends far beyond its simplicity. In his book "Make Your Bed," former Navy SEAL William H. McRaven explains how this seemingly mundane act holds greater meaning and yields substantial rewards. Drawing from the advice he shared in a commencement address to college graduates, McRaven outlines ten life lessons he learned during his service as a SEAL.

Read on to find out more about the transformative lessons found within "Make Your Bed" and discover how these simple yet profound principles can empower us to face adversity, achieve our goals, and make a positive impact on the world around us.

What is the book "Make Your Bed" about?

In the book "Make Your Bed," Admiral William H. McRaven shares profound insights gained from his experiences as a Navy SEAL and imparts valuable lessons on success, resilience, and the power of everyday actions. Inspired by his powerful commencement speech delivered to the graduating class at the University of Texas at Austin, this book offers a roadmap for navigating life's challenges with purpose and determination. With each chapter, McRaven unveils essential principles that go beyond military training, resonating with individuals from all walks of life.

These lessons, while initially aimed at conquering the rigorous SEAL training, hold equal significance in navigating life's challenges, regardless of one's background or circumstances.

10 lessons from the book "Make Your Bed" That Can Change Your Life

1. Start Your Day with a Task Completed.

Making your bed each morning sets a positive tone for the day and gives you a sense of accomplishment. McRaven emphasizes the significance of beginning each day by accomplishing a small task, such as making your bed. He highlights that this seemingly mundane act holds deeper meaning. By making your bed, you start your day with a sense of order, discipline, and accomplishment. It sets a positive tone, giving you a small but tangible victory that can serve as a foundation for productivity and motivation throughout the day. McRaven suggests that this simple task can have a ripple effect, inspiring you to tackle bigger challenges and approach them with a similar mindset of determination and attention to detail. The idea is to cultivate discipline and a proactive approach to tasks, no matter how small, which can contribute to personal growth, resilience, and success in various aspects of life.

If you need a place to create a task list that can guide your schedule for the day, consider using Journey to make your task lists conveniently. Create task lists the night before for the next day, and start off your morning by completing one thing on that list to set a positive tone for the day. Like McRaven mentions, making your bed can very well be the first thing you tick off on your to-d0 list for the day. Or it could be a simple task that you can complete in the morning hours of your day, and you can continue to go down the list as your schedule sees fit. Even if you're not at home for the first task of your day, you can access your to-do list from anywhere and any device of your choice on Journey!

Create tasks lists easily on Journey's editor and access them from anywhere; at your convenience.
Create tasks lists easily on Journey's editor and access them from anywhere; at your convenience.

2. You Can't Go At It Alone.

Success often requires the support and collaboration of others. McRaven talks about the importance of collaboration and seeking support from others in this section of his book. He highlights that success is often not achieved in isolation but through the collective efforts of a team. He encourages building strong relationships, fostering a sense of camaraderie, and recognizing the value of working together towards a common goal.

McRaven draws from his experience as a Navy SEAL, where teamwork is essential for mission success. He emphasizes that individuals should be willing to ask for help when needed and provide support to others when they require it. By acknowledging the significance of collaboration, McRaven underscores the idea that leaning on others can strengthen our own capabilities, amplify our achievements, and ultimately lead to greater success in life's endeavors. So, foster strong relationships and be willing to ask for help when needed.

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3. Only the Size of Your Heart Matters.

When Admiral William H. McRaven talks about "Only the Size of Your Heart Matters" in his book "Make Your Bed," he emphasizes the importance of character, resilience, and compassion over external factors such as physical strength or abilities. McRaven suggests that true success and impact in life are determined by the size of one's heart, referring to qualities such as kindness, empathy, integrity, and perseverance.

He shares examples from his experience as a Navy SEAL, where individuals with a strong sense of purpose, determination, and compassion are better equipped to overcome challenges and make a positive difference. McRaven encourages readers to focus on developing their inner qualities and treating others with respect and empathy. By emphasizing the importance of a big heart, he reminds us that it is not physical attributes or external achievements that truly matter, but the depth of our character and the positive impact we can have on the world around us.

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Remember, it's not about physical strength or abilities, but the size of your heart and your willingness to persevere and show compassion towards others.

For this life lesson, McRaven refers to the idea of embracing failure and learning from it. In Navy SEAL training, there is a particularly challenging task called the "sugar cookie" where trainees are intentionally covered in sand and forced to continue their training. The term "sugar cookie" symbolizes the feeling of being uncomfortable, gritty, and coated with failure.

McRaven advises readers to overcome the fear of failure and not let setbacks define their journey. He encourages embracing failures as learning opportunities and using them to grow stronger and more resilient. McRaven suggests that everyone experiences setbacks in life, but it is how we respond to them that truly matters. By reframing failure as a chance for personal and professional growth, individuals can develop a mindset that welcomes challenges, persists in the face of adversity, and finds strength in the lessons learned from setbacks. Ultimately, "getting over being a sugar cookie" means accepting failure as a natural part of the journey and using it as fuel to continue pushing forward towards success.

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Embrace failure and learn from it. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things won't go as planned, but it's important to keep moving forward.

5. Don't Be Afraid of the Circus.

This life lesson encourages readers to embrace the challenges and difficult tasks in life and face them head-on with courage and a positive mindset.

McRaven encourages readers to embrace the challenges and difficult tasks that life presents. The "circus" symbolizes the chaotic and unpredictable nature of life, filled with unexpected obstacles, setbacks, and uncertainties.

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He goes on to advise readers not to shy away from difficult situations or tasks that may seem daunting or overwhelming. Instead, he suggests facing them head-on with courage and a positive mindset. By confronting these challenges, individuals can develop resilience, problem-solving skills, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. McRaven's message is that it is through overcoming challenges that we grow stronger and gain valuable experiences. By stepping into the "circus" and embracing its chaos, we can discover our inner strength and achieve personal and professional growth.

6. Slide Down the Obstacle Head First.

When Admiral William H. McRaven talks about "Slide Down the Obstacle Head First" in his book "Make Your Bed," he urges readers to take risks, embrace new experiences, and approach obstacles with a sense of boldness and determination. The metaphor of "sliding down the obstacle head first" signifies diving into challenges without hesitation, fully committing to them, and being willing to explore unconventional approaches.

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McRaven encourages readers to step out of their comfort zones and venture into unfamiliar territory. He emphasizes the importance of taking calculated risks and not being afraid to try different strategies or take unconventional paths. By embracing this mindset, individuals can overcome fear, discover new possibilities, and tap into their full potential. McRaven's message is to be proactive, take initiative, and approach obstacles with a sense of adventure and willingness to explore uncharted territories. By sliding down the obstacle head first, we can navigate challenges with a bold spirit and open ourselves up to new opportunities for growth and success.

7. Don't Back Down from the Sharks.

For this life lesson, McRaven stresses importance of facing fears and standing up to intimidating challenges or individuals. In the context of his book, the term "sharks" represents the difficult situations or people that may try to intimidate or discourage us from pursuing our goals. McRaven encourages readers not to shy away from such challenges, but rather to confront them with courage, resilience, and unwavering determination. He suggests that by standing our ground and refusing to be intimidated, we can demonstrate strength and resilience. By facing the "sharks" head-on, we develop the confidence and fortitude necessary to overcome obstacles and achieve our objectives.

McRaven's message is to embrace courage in the face of adversity and not allow ourselves to be deterred by external pressures or naysayers. By refusing to back down from the "sharks," we can assert our capabilities, grow stronger, and ultimately achieve success in our endeavors.

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A quote that couldn’t be truer.
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Face your fears and confront the difficult situations or individuals that intimidate you. Stand your ground and show resilience.

8. Be Your Very Best in Your Darkest Moments.

McRaven talks about how resilience, determination, and maintaining a positive mindset even during the most challenging times shapes your experience for this life lesson. He suggests that our true character is revealed when we face adversity and confront our darkest moments. McRaven goes on to tell readers not to succumb to despair or negativity but to rise above difficult circumstances by displaying courage, integrity, and a commitment to doing our best. He highlights that it is during these dark moments that our actions and attitudes matter the most. By striving to be our very best, we can inspire ourselves and those around us, find strength within ourselves, and navigate through adversity with grace and perseverance.

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McRaven's message is that our response to challenges and hardships defines our character and has the potential to shape our future. By choosing to be our very best in our darkest moments, we demonstrate resilience, inspire others, and pave the way for personal growth and success.

Your true character is revealed during times of adversity. Show strength, integrity, and courage when faced with tough situations!

9. Start Singing When You're Up to Your Neck in Mud.

When Admiral William H. McRaven talks about "Start Singing When You're Up to Your Neck in Mud", he explains the power of maintaining a positive attitude and finding joy even in the most challenging and difficult situations. The metaphorical image of being up to your neck in mud represents being caught in difficult circumstances or facing overwhelming obstacles.

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McRaven suggests that instead of succumbing to despair or negativity, we should choose to maintain a hopeful and optimistic outlook. He encourages readers to find strength within themselves and face adversity with resilience and a sense of humor. By "starting singing" in the face of challenges, we symbolically embrace a positive mindset and refuse to let circumstances dampen our spirit.

He continues to explain that our attitude and perspective play a crucial role in how we navigate through tough times. By maintaining a positive outlook, finding joy amidst difficulties, and approaching challenges with a resilient and lighthearted spirit, we can inspire ourselves and others to persevere, maintain hope, and overcome obstacles with grace and determination.

10. Don't Ever, Ever Ring the Bell.

McRaven touches on the concept of perseverance and the importance of not giving up in the face of adversity. In Navy SEAL training, there is a brass bell that trainees can ring to signify their decision to quit and leave the program.

McRaven uses the metaphor of "ringing the bell" to represent giving in to challenges, surrendering to failure, or abandoning one's goals. He encourages readers to adopt a mindset of unwavering determination and to never give up, regardless of the difficulties encountered along the way. By refusing to ring the bell, individuals demonstrate their commitment to their dreams, their ability to overcome obstacles, and their willingness to push through discomfort and setbacks.

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He talks about the need to persevere through hardships, maintain a strong resolve, and keep pushing forward towards success. He encourages readers to find inner strength, rely on their resilience, and refuse to let setbacks define their journey. By embracing the mindset of "Don't ever, ever ring the bell," individuals can achieve their goals, overcome challenges, and ultimately lead a fulfilling and successful life.

Never give up. Persevere through hardships, stay committed to your goals, and never surrender to adversity!

Admiral William H. McRaven's book "Make Your Bed" offers valuable life lessons that extend far beyond the realm of Navy SEAL training. Through his experiences and insightful anecdotes, McRaven inspires readers to adopt a mindset of resilience, determination, and unwavering commitment to their goals. From starting the day with a task completed to embracing failures as learning opportunities, from supporting and relying on others to finding strength in the face of adversity, each lesson serves as a powerful reminder of our own potential for personal growth and achievement.

By incorporating these principles into our lives, we can overcome obstacles, develop inner strength, and make a meaningful impact on the world around us. The lessons from "Make Your Bed" remind us that small actions, when approached with intention and purpose, can lead to significant and lasting change.

Internalize these lessons, apply them to our own journeys, and embark on a path of personal growth, achieve your goals, and make a positive difference in the world!