In the Wall Street Journal this weekend – a commencement address given by Admiral William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, to the graduating class of the University of Texas last week. In it, McRaven relays ten lessons from Navy SEAL training that are immediately applicable to all of our lives, no matter where we are or what we’re trying to accomplish.
I especially liked the first lesson – about completing the first task of the day to set the tone. I’m going to try this one, if only to see the look of amazement on my wife’s face:
1. Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.
It was a simple task, mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.
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 little things in life matter.
If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
Be sure to head over for the whole piece, it’s my favorite thing on the Internet this whole month.