Book Review: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World by William H. McRaven

On May 17, 2014, the now-retired Admiral William H. McRaven gave the commencement speech for the graduation class from the University of Texas at Austin.

The speech went viral with over 10 million views which you can find on the bottom of this post.

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World is an extended version of the popular speech.

It’s a short book with just over 100 pages so you can probably read the whole book in one sitting as I did.

I borrowed the book from my local library. It was a nice hardcover edition.

The book contains 10 lessons each of which is accompanied with a touching and patriotic short story, drawn from real-life experiences including tough training as a former Navy SEAL.

The Best Gift You Can Give to Your Loved Ones

I can’t think of a better gift you can give to both kids and adults of all ages.

The messages are to the point with no fluff.

The invaluable lessons will inevitably help anyone facing life challenges – that means everyone! – to live the best life despite adversity.

The Lessons I Loved

What I appreciated most from some of the lessons is:

Life is tough. Despite your best effort, failures are inevitable. Even if you do everything right, the unfairness of life will hit you. Rise above it and never give up.

I also learned that the whole meaning of making your bed as a Navy SEAL is totally different from the little morning routine that I was proud of since I first heard his speech a while ago.

A SEAL’s making a bed involves the whole works completed with an inspection!

After reading the book, I was also motivated to add tons of flutter kicks to my daily exercise routine.

Its positive impact was immediate.

Highlights from the Book

(Credit: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World by William H. McRaven)

… determination and grit were always more important than talent.


… outwork, outhustle, and outperform…


I sometimes fell short of being the best, but I never fell short of giving it my best.


… no one is immune from mistakes.


Life is a struggle and the potential for failure is ever present, but those who live in fear of failure, or hardship, or embarrassment will never achieve their potential. Without pushing your limits, without occasionally sliding down the rope headfirst, without daring greatly, you will never know what is truly possible in your life.


… we both wanted to be SEALs so badly that nothing in the water that night was going to stop us. If we had to fight off the sharks, then we were both prepared to do so. Our goal, which we believed to be honorable and noble, gave us courage, and courage is a remarkable quality. Nothing and nobody can stand in your way. Without it, you are at the mercy of life’s temptations. Without courage, men will be ruled by tyrants and despots. Without courage, no great society can flourish. Without courage, the bullies of the world rise up. With it, you can accomplish any goal. With it, you can defy and defeat evil.


Life is full of difficult times. But someone out there always has it worse than you do. If you fill your days with pity, sorrowful for the way you have been treated, bemoaning your lot in life, blaming your circumstances on someone or something else, then life will be long and hard. If, on the other hand, you refuse to give up on your dreams, stand tall and strong against the odds – then life will be what you make of it – and you can make it great. Never, ever, right the bell!

(Credit: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World by William H. McRaven)

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Watch the Inspirational Popular Speech

University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address - Admiral William H. McRaven

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