As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”—one you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.
Make Your Bed, subtitled Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe The World, by retired U.S. Navy Admiral William H. McRaven is one of those books which is both educational and inspirational for me. In 2014, Admiral McRaven addressed the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin. He spoke on ten principles drilled into him as a Navy Seal—principles which helped him through the physically, mentally and emotionally punishing training, and which guided him through other chapters in his life. The book is an expanded version of that commencement address.
Prior to reading the book I heard of Navy Seals, and the rigorous training they undergo. I didn’t know anything beyond that. Make Your Bed gives an insider’s look at some of the details of the training, the reasons why the training is so difficult (one reason: life is difficult) as well as the challenges nature (weather, ocean currents, and sharks) throws in.
The first principle the admiral gives sounds too simple: Make your bed. However, the author points out that a good start to the day gives a person a sense of organization. There are times when we badly need that sense of organization. Even if the rest of your day is bad, and you couldn’t do anything to change it, when you come home to a made bed, at least that part is right and orderly.
The other nine principles—don’t go it alone; the only thing that matters is the size of your heart; life is not fair—drive on; failure can make you stronger; dare greatly; stand up to bullies; rise to the occasion; give people hope, and never quit—are written just as simply. But all ten guidelines are powerful when we practice them. They will help to change an individual’s life and possibly, the lives around that person.
In presenting the principles, Admiral McRaven gave credit where credit is due, to those individuals who went the extra mile to help him when he needed it in the Seals, and in his later career. He honors the American servicemen, women and their families who sacrificed so much to serve their country. He gives tribute to the resilience of the human spirit, as demonstrated in soldiers or sailors who suffered horrendous, life-threatening injuries, and yet came back and contributed still more to their country. They refused to give up, or give in.
The author writes with humor, humility, and poignancy. The language he chooses is clean.
Make Your Bed can be read in one sitting. Including the acknowledgements and the original commencement address, the book is just 130 pages.
This is one of those books worth reading and re-reading.