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Book Corner: Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven
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Reviewed by Amy Johnson, FEIAA Board Member (P406)
(Includes excerpts taken from the book)


If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. 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 and another. By the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. Told with great humility and optimism, this book of only 125 pages is packed with simple, timeless wisdom; practical advice; and words of encouragement that will inspire.

Admiral McRaven shares the 10 principles he learned during Navy SEAL training that helped him overcome challenges not just in his training and long Navy career, but throughout his life.

  1. Start your day with a task completed.
  2. You can’t go at it alone.
  3. Only the size of your heart matters.
  4. Life’s not fair—drive on.
  5. Failure can make you stronger.
  6. You must dare greatly.
  7. Stand up to the bullies.
  8. Rise to the occasion.
  9. Give people hope.
  10. Never, ever quit.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. Nothing can replace the strength and comfort of one’s faith, but sometimes the simple act of making your bed can give you the lift you need to start your day and provide you the satisfaction to end it right.

If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle. You cannot paddle the boat alone. Find someone to share your life with. Make as many friends as possible, and never forget that your success depends on others.

The common people and the great men and women are all defined by how they deal with life’s unfairness. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, no matter how good you are, things still don’t work out. Don’t complain. Don’t blame it on your misfortune. Stand tall, look to the future, and drive on!

In life, you will face a lot of challenges, and you will pay for your failures. But, if you persevere, and if you let those failures teach you and strengthen you, then you will be prepared to handle life’s toughest moments. True leaders must learn from their failures, use these lessons to motivate themselves, and not be afraid to try again or make the next tough decision.

If you want to change the world, slide down the obstacle head first. Life is a struggle and the potential for failure is ever present, but those who live in fear of failure, hardship, or embarrassment will never achieve their potential. Without pushing your limits, without occasionally sliding down the rope headfirst, without daring greatly, you will never know what is truly possible in your life.

If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks and bullies. To achieve your goals, you will have to possess great courage. That courage is within all of us. Dig deep, and you will find it in abundance.

If you want to change the world, be your very best in the darkest moments. You must rise above your fears, your doubts, and your fatigue. No matter how dark it gets, you must complete the mission. At some point, we will all confront a dark moment in life, if not the passing of a loved one, then something else that crushes your spirit and leaves you wondering about your future. In that dark moment, reach deep inside yourself and be your very best.

If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud. We will all find ourselves neck deep in mud someday. That is the time to sing loudly, to smile broadly, and to lift up those around you and give them hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

If you want to change the world, don’t ever, ever ring the bell. Never quit. It doesn’t sound particularly profound, but life constantly puts you in situations where quitting seems so much easier than continuing on, where the odds are so stacked against you that giving up seems the rational thing to do.

Life is full of difficult times. But someone out there always has it worse than you do. If you fill your days with pity, feeling sorrowful for the way you have been treated, bemoaning your lot in life, and blaming your circumstances on someone or something else, then life will be long and hard. If, on the other hand, you refuse to give up on your dreams, and stand tall and strong against the odds, then life will be what you make of it—and you can make it great. 

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