Make Your Bed contains the author’s ten most valuable experiences from his time spent serving with the US Navy SEALs.
The simplest solutions are sometimes the best. Making your bed first thing every morning may seem like a small thing, but it can have a profound impact on your happiness.
William H. McRaven served as a naval officer in both Afghanistan and Iraq SEAL. During his time there and in the years leading up to it, as he prepared, he learned a wealth of valuable lessons. Admiral McRaven has some great words of wisdom, including the need to accept failure and the importance of never giving up.
You may be wondering if you should read the book. This book summary will tell you what important lessons you can learn from this book so you can decide if it is worth your time.
At the end of this book review, I’ll also tell you the best way to get rich by reading and writing.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Make Your Bed Book Summary
Lesson 1: One should not judge a book by its cover, and one should not assume that life is fair.
When was the last time you let someone surprise you? Maybe at first you dismissed him as uninteresting, but now you two are inseparable.
From this you should learn not to make the mistake of judging someone by something other than what is in his heart.
The same is true in reverse. Before you place your trust in a stranger, ask yourself, “What do I really know about this person?”
McRaven explored the possibility of becoming a Navy SEAL by visiting a recruiting center while he was still in college. Tom Norris, a short, bald and frail-looking man, caught his eye there. He did not seem like a hardened veteran of the Navy SEALs.
Yet Lt. Tom Norris was just that: a war hero who had been shot in Vietnam while trying to save the lives of others. Norris endured excruciating pain and a long recovery period so he could continue to serve his country on the FBI hostage rescue team.
A second important lesson is that life cannot always be trusted to be just and rational.
During his time as SEAL, McRaven had to deal with many “sugar rushes,” i.e., dives into the Pacific Ocean followed by a stormy roll on the beach. This punishment would have been imposed even if he had not violated the training rules of SEAL, which could make the world seem illogical and unreasonable.
If you walk around in the sand long enough, you are forced to accept that life is unfair and that it is pointless to fight it.
Time wasted by refusing to face reality is a waste of time. Instead, you should pull yourself together and move on.
Lesson 2: Do not be afraid to make mistakes and grow from them into successes.
Failure is a word no one wants to hear. It’s full of bad vibes, and that’s something everyone wants to avoid.
But setbacks can be turned into opportunities if you approach them the right way.
In some situations, failure is inevitable. This can be a source of great anxiety, but that’s no reason to resign ourselves to it. On the contrary, we can use this energy to become even more resilient and focused.
When the author was a member of the Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL teams, he swam on a team that regularly finished in last place. That meant they had to go through another Navy SEAL rite of passage known as “The Circus.”
The Circus is a grueling endurance test that has a legendary reputation among SEALs and has caused many cadets to drop out of training early.
Even though McRaven’s swim team’s performance improved thanks to the circus, it was an exhausting test for the coach. The final swim was more difficult than anything they had ever done before, but they still managed to take first place. The shared experience of defeat had made them more resilient than their fellow cadets.
A willingness to take risks is essential to learning from setbacks. And for the simple reason that you have to take big risks to win big.
The thrill of taking risks is comparable to the comforts of living lightly. You will not get very far if you allow your worries and fears to drive your actions.
McRaven ran into trouble in 2004. Intelligence information indicated that the enemy camp in Iraq where three hostages were being held would soon move. He knew raiding the compound by day was the best chance to rescue the hostages, but it was a risky plan.
Of course, it was not perfect. They would be flying during the day, and the small compound could not possibly accommodate all three of the team’s helicopters. Although it was dangerous, McRaven gave the order to carry out the mission. Despite initial fears that the mission would fail or even prove fatal, it was eventually successful, and the hostages were freed.
Lesson 3: Despite the difficulties you may encounter, gather the strength to keep moving toward your goals.
Throughout your life, you will face many difficulties. You may have to deal with bullies or fake friends. Or maybe shark-infested waters stand between you and your goal if you are a Navy SEAL.
There may come a time when running away seems like a better option than facing the challenge head on, but that’s not a good idea. Having fears is normal. You must not give them room to hinder your progress. Do your best to maintain your determination and sense of adventure as you pursue your goals.
To become a Navy SEAL you must face and overcome a variety of fears. In addition to the dangers of swimming at night, McRaven and his swimming partner had to cover a distance of four miles in complete darkness. But that night, they reportedly swam with great white sharks, leopard sharks and other aggressive shark species.
McRaven’s goal of completing the SEAL training helped him overcome his fear of sharks and continue to pursue his goal.
It takes courage to keep going when life is at its worst. It’s times like these that we need to be on our best behaviour.
Our common humanity guarantees that we will see all times of tribulation. When someone you care about dies, or when a life-threatening illness is diagnosed, it can stretch your reserves to the breaking point. These are extremely difficult times, but you must face the situation.
McRaven has witnessed too many battlefield deaths to count. These are the darkest and most difficult times he has ever experienced, but also the times when he has been most inspired by people’s ability to persevere and get back up.
When one of the Navy’s Special Operators was killed in Iraq, his twin brother was there to stand strong and support him. It was impressive to see how it all unfolded. He explained that he acted that way to please his twin brother.
Lesson 4: Don’t give up on helping other people.
Do you recognize that? You’re about to give up when you’ve a conversation with a friend that gives you a new perspective and a boost of energy.
In moments like these, it’s easy to see the impact one person can have.
Each of us should work to become a person who inspires optimism in others and shows them the way to a better future.
You may have heard of Hell Week, even if you don’t know much about the Navy SEALs. It’s an intense seven-day endurance test that often determines whether or not a cadet becomes a Navy SEAL. Trainees must endure all night in the cold mud.
At one point during McRaven’s “hell week,” one of the cadets got up and left, apparently determined to quit. But then another man began to sing, and soon there were three of them. They quickly began to sing together. It only took one man to restore the cadet’s faith in humanity, but now he’s back with the others.
And last but not least: Keep moving!
Even though life is sometimes a painful mess, it’s still beautiful. Remember that you can’t have the good times without the bad.
Don’t wallow in self-pity or blame others when things get tough. The quality of your life depends entirely on the work you put into it. If you give nothing, you’ll only regret it.
The land mine in Afghanistan seriously injured a soldier named Adam Bates. At the hospital, McRaven saw a badly burned Bates with tubes going in and out of him. He was also missing a leg.
Yet Bates expressed confidence in his well-being through sign language. That kind of response is exactly what makes McRaven so pleased with his troops. Despite the many setbacks they’ve faced, they’ve always maintained a positive attitude.
A SEAL is taught to keep fighting. If Adam Bates can muster the determination to keep going, so can you.
Make Your Bed Review
Make Your Bed is a great book I’d like to recommend to anyone who is interested in personal development.
There are lessons everyone can take away from a former U.S. Navy SEAL. A Navy SEAL is someone who has been through hell and back, who has overcome his or her greatest fears, who has experienced heroes up close and in ways the rest of us can only read about in books. These encounters can dramatically change an individual’s attitude toward life and what it takes to make the most of it.
About the Author
Admiral William H. McRaven is a four-star retired US Navy SEAL. McRaven saw a lot during his 37 years of service, both in training and in battle. He commanded troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Buy The Book: Make Your Bed
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