It’s time for my latest confession: I needed to read one more novel to reach my “20-book overachiever status” in 2019 (My original goal was 12.) I was hovering at 19 but refused to end the year without a clean numerical milestone. December 30th and 31st were workdays though, and my chances of quality time in a book nook were slim. of So I scrolled through my TBR list and picked out a tiny read, listened to it on Audible during my last two roundtrip commutes of the year. (Is that cheating? I hope not!)
“Make Your Bed,” by William H. McRaven has been sitting at the pinnacle of self-help book lists for quite some time. I was excited to learn that the author would be reading the piece on Audible and dove in: It was the perfect time of year for reflection and motivation.
Admiral William H. McRaven is a retired United States Navy Four- Star Admiral, who served for 37- years in various, quite prestigious capacities. His book was inspired by his own commencement speech for the graduating class of University of Texas, Austin. He shared with the audience, ten lessons that he learned during his career as a Navy Seal, simple truths that could resonate with just about anyone. The straightforward mantras that he highlighted were applicable to all walks of life- It reminded me of Mary Schmich’s 1997 article, “Wear Sunscreen.”
The title of the book foreshadows McRaven’s first words of wisdom: He told the crowd that if they wanted to be successful, they should start each day with a well-made 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 small task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”
He spoke about the routine bed checks that he became accustomed to in training, how they paved the way to a disciplined lifestyle. He then moved through a summary of instances that marked his career, made an impact on his life- tragedies he faced, hardships he overcame, friends he made, and other role models who simply left footprints on his heart, lined a path in his memory. All chapter names preluded a lesson:
- Start your day with a task completed.
- You can’t go it alone.
- Only the size of your heart matters.
- Life’s not fair. Drive on!
- Failure can make you stronger.
- You must dare greatly.
- Stand up to the bullies.
- Rise to the occasion.
- Give people hope.
- Never, ever quit!
With the book’s 3.97 rating on Goodreads, it’s clear to see that the 144-page book is a “must read” for anyone on the quest for success. I found it insightful, powerful at times- McRaven has a lot of heart and drive, certainly something to be admired.
Final Score: 3 The book was decent, but quite repetitive. The overarching theme and mantra, “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed” was stated in many chapters and by the end of the book, I decided that the messages could have been condensed even more. Still, I liked the ideologies enough to recommend the Audible version to my husband: William McRaven’s military training experiences were compelling and genuinely interesting. “Make Your Bed” was enough to hold our attention for different reasons: My husband, for the military aspect, and me, for the “self help” concepts that could easily be translated for working lessons in corporate America.
BEST FOR: Those who crave a book of quick wisdom, practical advice, and no-frills inspiration.
NOT GOOD FOR: Readers, entirely disinterested in military content. It’s the basis of his speech and book.
IF THIS BOOK/ AUTHOR WAS A HIGH SCHOOL STEREOTYPE: William H. McRaven would be voted, “Most Likely To Come Back And Give A Speech To A Graduating Class.”
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