Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...and Maybe the World - Admiral William H. McRaven (U.S. Navy Retired)

Summary:  If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. On May 17, 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven addressed the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin on their commencement day.  Taking inspiration from the university's slogan, "What starts here changes the world," he shared the ten principles he learned during Navy SEAL training that helped him overcome challenges not only in his training and long Naval career, but also throughout his life; and he explained how anyone can use these basic lessons to change themselves -- and the world -- for the better.

Admiral McRaven's original speech went viral with more than 10 million views.  Building on the core tenets laid out in his speech, McRaven now recounts tales from his own life and from those of people he encountered during his military service who dealt with hardship and made tough decisions with determination, compassion, honor, and courage.  Told with great humility and optimism, this timeless book provides simple wisdom, practical advice, and words of encouragement that will inspire readers to achieve more, even in life's darkest moments.

(Summary from book flap - Image from

My Review:   I picked up Make Your Bed late one evening, intending to read a chapter or two before calling it a night.  Instead, I read the whole dang thing and it wasn't even hard; I couldn't put it down.  The book is based on retired U.S. Navy Admiral William H. McRaven's ten life-changing principles, first outlined in a speech* he gave to the graduating class of University of Texas at Austin in 2014.   Each chapter examines a specific lesson that McRaven learned during Navy SEAL training and expands on the concepts expressed in his speech, offering more context, additional details, and specific experiences that drive the point home. The result is a volume of wisdom that is concise, compelling, occasionally bittersweet, and utterly inspiring.  

McRaven relates his own personal challenges, successes and failures, as well as accounts of others who have persevered in the face of adversity.  I loved his stories and the invaluable, relatable lessons they so effectively taught.  They were encouraging, occasionally humorous, and sometimes brought me to tears.  I really want to share my favorite lessons here, but I feel that to do so would take away from the impact of he book.  You really need read them yourself to have the full experience.  I will say that a bunch of SEALS-in-training, neck deep in mud, and united in show of defiance made me exceedingly weepy.  Don't judge.  You'll likely get a little misty too.

Make Your Bed was truly a joy to read.  I closed it feeling edified, uplifted, and inspired to move forward with hope, courage, and determination.  I borrowed my copy, but plan to pick up my own as soon as possible, along with McRaven's other book Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations.**.  If I could say only four words about this book they would be: Add to cart, people.  

*The entire speech is worth listening to, but skip to 4:35 if you want just the ten principles.

**Update:  I picked up Sea Stories and read it in a couple of days. You can read my review here (after 5/26/21).

My Rating: 5 Stars

For the Sensitive Reader:  All clear!

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