Book Review: Make Your Bed by William McRaven

Make Your Bed


Does it really matter whether you meticulously make your bed each and every morning? After all, you’re just going to mess it up later anyways, so isn’t it a waste of precious time to repeat this somewhat tedious task? Do the perfect corners and well-placed pillows truly impact the rest of your day? According to Retired Admiral William McRaven, it DOES make a difference….a big one! Here is our Make Your Bed book review


As a retired four-star admiral and former Navy SEAL, McRaven offers great advice in his book, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life. In his book, McRaven expands on his college graduation speech – considered one of the most inspiring graduation speeches ever given and has more than 10 million views online – that he gave at his alma mater, the University of Texas.


McRaven offers practical advice that helps us become better leaders and, more importantly, better people. Amongst the numerous tidbits of practical advice in his book, here are six of the most valuable takeaways:


    1. Embrace your failures: After all, we all have them, and learning from them will only make us stronger. Life is a struggle, so push yourself through and you’ll amaze yourself at what you can accomplish and how far you’ll go.
    2. Stand up to bullies: This sentiment holds true whether referring to the figurative sharks you must swim with throughout your life, or the ones McRaven literally encountered during his 6-mile, deep-water swims in the Pacific for Seal Training. Be bold, be courageous, and take a stand.
    3. Demonstrate strong character in all that you do: Yes, this seems rather obvious. We all know that this is a desirable trait; but, often, the behaviors we choose aren’t aligned with our desire. It’s easy to conceptualize, but not so easy to do. Consistently demonstrating good judgment, honesty, courage, and empathy will consistently lead you down the right path. You always have a choice….make the right one.
    4. Always measure a person by the size of his heart: It does no good to measure a person by his physical size, skin color, religion, or anything else, when the true measure of one’s ability lies in his determination, his passion, his character.
    5. Lean on others: We all need our “tribe” — those we can count on to offer support and tell us the truth; those who listen and those we learn from. We can’t do it alone, and others will help us along the way.
    6. Make your bed – every day! A well-made bed can set the tone for the rest of your day. “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another. Making your bed will reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”


For the record, I’m in the “make-my-bed-every-morning” category. As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the best ways to start the day. Climbing into a perfectly made bed with cool, crisp sheets each night makes for a great finish to a long, productive day. It’s a pretty trivial act that can really have a positive impact.


Although McRaven’s words were initially meant to provide guidance to our next generation of leaders entering the workforce, his book contains valuable life lessons for any age, any career level, and any demographic. Whether it be college graduates or children, those you’re mentoring or those you’re learning from, McRaven’s advice transcends beyond the trivial guidance of “make your bed,” as he provides little lessons to change your life. Now, pull back the tucked-in sheets from your precisely-made bed, grab this insightful little book, and give it a read. It will be an enlightening hour well-spent.


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