Do you remember what the keynote speaker said at your high school and/or college graduation ceremony?
Do you even remember who the speaker was? (Ah, no.)
If your commencement speaker was Admiral William McRaven at the University of Texas, there’s a good chance you might remember what he had to say – especially his life-changing advice about making your bed.
By now you might have seen excerpts from McRaven’s 2014 commencement remarks at the University of Texas at Austin, via YouTube or social media. The video has garnered millions of views. McRaven even wrote a book about it: “Make Your Bed: Little Things that Can Change Your Life … And Maybe the World.”
To set the stage, McRaven is a military hero. He is a retired admiral – a Navy SEAL by training – who, as the ninth commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, planned the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
In his speech, McRaven shared 10 life lessons adapted from his basic SEAL training. One lesson that has resonated with millions of people – including me, who discovered it via Facebook some four years later – is this: “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”
You see, every morning in basic training, McRaven’s SEAL instructors – all Vietnam veterans – would visit the barracks room and inspect the beds to exacting specifications. McRaven admitted that he didn’t see the point of this exercise at first.
“It was a simple task – mundane at best,” McRaven said. “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.”
So, you might be wondering, where’s the wisdom in making your bed? How in the world will this make you a more productive human being?
“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day,” McRaven said. “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.”
So, did you make your bed today?