Make your Bed by William H McRaven

This is a small book in appearance but one that will have a profound impact on the way you think and act, including the small things of life that change your life and maybe, the world. The book, which is originally the commencement speech of the graduation batch of the University of Texas, and whose content became viral online, was published as a book in April 2017.


Author : William H McRaven Originally Published : 2017 Publication :Penguin UK
Pages : 144
Genre(s) : Non-Fiction, Self-Help, Biography & Autobiography, Leadership, Personal Growth

Written by William Harry McRaven , a retired United States Navy four-star admiral who served as the ninth commander of the United States Special Operations Command from August 8, 2011 to August 28, 2014,  was also the chancellor of The University of Texas System from 2015 to 2018 before he stepped down due to health issues. For his speech to the graduating class, McRaven put forth the 10 lessons that he had learned during his training as a Navy SEAL and which reverberated positively with the students.

The first lesson in this book is that one must start the day by completing one task at least- it could be making your bed after you wake up. A crisp, tightly tucked bed sets the tone for the day because however small the task, you have begun the day well by completing it. That gives you enough motivation to complete the other ones as well.

Lesson 2: Find someone to paddle with as you traverse the seas, which means that no task can be accomplished alone. You need the help of others and you need to return their help when its time.

Lesson 3: Only the size of the heart matters. Size of your guts, your strength lies in the way you act and not on your wealth, fitness or skin color. Not judging anyone by external entrapments but on the way they lead their meaningful lives makes a difference.

Lesson 4:  Like the lessons learned in the Navy where accidents and war scars leave you bedridden or injured for life, one must realise soon that life is unfair and move on with it, don’t fight it.

Lesson 5: Failure makes a man stronger. People try and fail, they rise again and draw from their strengths. Failure is never something to fear about, it’s a way to know that the only way now is up. Who could tell this better than a navy SEAL who undergoes tough training and endurance tests that no one quite masters without failing few times

Lesson 6: You must dare, and greatly at that. Nothing big in life comes easily, one must take risks and dare. Unless you give it your all, how can you get the ultimate success? Safety nets are there sometimes, but not always. Who dares, wins.

Lesson 7: Stand up to the bullies- They are everywhere, from school to the office and the sportsground. Bullies thrive on your fear. Take them head on, don’t fear. Typical of bullies, they are scared of retaliation.

Lesson 8: Rise to the occasion- especially in the darkest moments of life. It tests your patience and your grit and determination but if you rise above it all, you have accomplished life

Lesson 9:  Give people hope, start singing when you’re neck deep in mud. Navymen are constantly working under the threat of the enemy, they cannot afford to be weak. But there are times when you need to give hope to yourself too, when you’re in deep trouble. Only hope floats.

Lesson 10:  Never ever quit. What a way to end the speech. This dictum is applicable to everyone, and not just a Navy SEAL. Quitting is the easiest thing to do, but humans are born of tougher substance.

Key takeaways-

  1. A civilian’s life is akin to that of a navy SEAL, in that both face almost the same problems albeit in a different context and perspective.
  2. Takin life head on is the only way to lead it on your terms.
  3. Follow certain principles in life that will serve you in the long term, through tough times and good.
  4. Live like a soldier, try hard, persevere and never ever quit.

Why I recommend this book

Coming from a tough as nails Navy SEAL, it immediately struck a chord in my mind. McRaven has shared the secret of life as it is led by soldiers. I could relate to most of his situations narrated and realized that a soldier’s life on the battlefield and a civilian’s life run parallel courses but follow the same path. I highly recommend this simple yet profound book for the depth of its 10 lessons. Read one lesson every day and it will be forever etched in your mind. Do gift this book to some young student who would be wary of life even before he begins his.

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