Admiral McRaven gave a very popular speech at the University of Texas. The speech quickly became viral (over 10 million views). The popularity of the speech translated into a book titled “Make Your Bed.” The thesis of the speech and book is his belief that little things can change your life. He combines his lessons with very emotional stories. His rules make even more sense after you read his accompanying story. Here is my summary:
The rules are as follows:
- Start your day with a task completed. His main example is making your bed. Something simple and productive gives you a great start on the day. Pay attention to the little things.
- If you want to change the world…find someone to help you paddle. Always have a wingman. Doing things alone is difficult. You need someone to have your back. Someone to help when things get difficult. Success can depend on others. Find someone to share your life with.
- If you want to change the world…get ready for life to beat, you down. Life is tough…That’s just the way it is. Deal with, accept it…. move on.
- If you want to change the world…. don’t be afraid of the circus. Life is crazy, lean into it. You can’t avoid it…at some point we all deal with the craziness.
- If you want to change the world…. slide down obstacles headfirst (he talks about sliding down a navy seal pole in the training obstacle course…no trainee had ever attempted to slide headfirst…. the person who thought to do this first…beat the longstanding record for quickest time) …. His point is you need to take risks. Push your limits. Failure, hardship, embarrassment should not stop you.
- If you want to change the world…. don’t back down from sharks. In short…. stand up to bullies. Don’t let them succeed.
- If you want to change the world….be your very best in the darkest moments. 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. The admiral tells a clever story to illustrate his point. This story is my favorite. It is about the craziness of Navy Seal training hell week. After several relentless days all the trainees are exhausted running through the mud all through the night. The wind is whipping up and it is getting freezing cold as the sun sets. The drill sergeant yells that if 5 trainees quit then the rest can come up and sit by the fire, get warm, and have chicken noodle soup (sounds good…HA) …. Some of the trainees are seriously getting ready to quit…. all of a sudden one of them breaks into song. More and more of the trainees start joining in….The drill sergeant tells them to stop multiple times. Each time he barks and tells them to “stop.” They start singing louder. The trainees that were considering quitting turn back and push on.
The power of one person to unite a group, the power of one person to inspire those around him, to give them hope.
Ultimately the book pushes the lesson that we should never quit. “Quitting never makes anything easier.”