Book Reviews / Books

Review: Make Your Bed – William H McRaven

01.27.18

Make Your Bed

I’ve been in a bit of a reading funk so far this year. Determined to fill the first month of 2018 with nothing but good books, the first I read – despite a promising blurb – left me pretty unmoved; so much so that I decided not to to review it on here, for lack of much to say about it. The second, while an easy and interesting read, didn’t have me reaching for my book each night, and thus it took me longer than usual to get through. And so, when perusing the shelves of my favourite cafe bookstore in Bondi for some much needed literary inspiration, I saw a copy of Make Your Bed – a book about which I’d heard nothing but good stuff – and so decided to buy a copy.

I read – and adored – J K Rowling’s Very Good Lives a number of years ago. The book was based on the commencement speech she gave to Harvard graduates in which she spoke about the benefits of failure, and the importance of imagination – lessons that have stayed with me, and that I have drawn upon – in the years that have since passed.

It was thus that I read with some interest Make Your Bed by William H McRaven. Based on his commencement speech made to students at the University of Texas, the book details the ten life lessons he learnt during the thirty-seven years he spent as a Navy SEAL. The first – and the one after which the book was named – is to make your bed each and every morning, a lesson that may seem insignificant, but one that means every day is started with a completed task.

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What follows is a thought-provoking guide to ways in which small tasks can change both our day to day lives, and consequently the world, for the better. The key lessons McRaven speaks of are illustrated by accounts and anecdotes from his time in the navy and we learn about the people, the experiences and the places that had a profound and long lasting effect on McRaven, and how he sought to better his life as a result.

While the lessons are small, they too are powerful; from embracing failure, to understanding that life isn’t fair, to standing up to bullies, and understanding that the size of a person’s heart is all that really matters, there is advice for everyone, whatever stage of life they’re at.

Powerful and poignant, witty and wise, it’s easy to see why the speech on which Make Your Bed is based so quickly went viral. The sort of book that everyone should read, it’s impossible to finish it without a new determination to change your life – and the life of those around you – for the better.

Buy Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven on Amazon or from Waterstones.

About Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World 

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.

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Admiral McRaven’s original speech went viral with over 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, honour, 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.

About William H McRaven

Admiral William H. McRaven (U.S. Navy Retired) served with great distinction in the Navy. In his thirty-seven years as a Navy SEAL, he commanded at every level. As a Four-Star Admiral, his final assignment was as Commander of all U.S. Special Operations Forces. He is now Chancellor of the University of Texas System.

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