Review of Admiral William H. McRaven’s Make Your Bed

After decades of slacking off, William McRaven has finally done the United States of America a great service. He has taken a giant leap forward towards the noble goal of uniting the sentiments of the eight-year-old children of both supporters of Bernie Sanders and the Squad, and those of Donald Trump and MTG. It is almost certain that the publication of his bestseller, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life... and Maybe the World, has been met with a resounding “No” from the children of this country. 

Of course, the books’ genesis as a 2014 commencement speech delivered at the University of Texas at Austin suggests that Admiral McRaven’s audience is actually “grown-ups,” those of us who have lived long enough to royally screw up our lives to the point that we need to read books about how to change them. Take, for example, deposed Iraqi dictator Sadam Hussein. I don’t think anyone can deny that he accomplished a few things in his life, but he, much like you and I, made some mistakes along the way. After Hussein’s capture in December 2003, McRaven visited him in confinement daily in order to do background research for this book. The admiral notes, “I noticed, with some sense of amusement, that Saddam did not make his bed.” Indeed.

For the vast majority of my life, making my bed would have been anathema to me also. Why bother, after all, when you are going to have to do it all over again tomorrow? But the truth, as stupid and corny as some might see it, is that ever since reading this book, I have religiously made my bed every morning before taking my first sip of coffee. The point is one of self-discipline. Regardless of how pointless and repetitious we might view the gesture, McRaven is right in pointing out that a made bed is a positive act completed that sets the tone for a day in which perhaps many more positive acts might occur. 

If you want to change the world, the admiral suggests that you “be your very best in the darkest moments.” If you have, in fact, experienced anything approximating your “darkest moments,” you know how difficult that is, and also you appreciate how profound McRaven’s advice is. Serving others, as it turns out, is perhaps the best means of surviving ourselves. 

For fans of the Navy SEAL advice genre (of which I am a committed partisan), or just self-help books in general, Make Your Bed is a welcome addition. The one thing the admiral fails to point out, in an otherwise exemplary book, is that once we have made our beds we must lie in them…


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