Make Your Bed Summary (William H. McRaven)

Make Your Bed book is about an incident where Admiral McRaven (the author) gave a speech to the graduating class from the University of Texas on 17th May 2014. The graduating class embraced the speech.

McRaven (Mac) tells about ten lessons he learned from Navy SEAL Training.

He illustrates these principles using stories from his military career and provides practical advice on applying them to everyday life. 

Chapter One: Start Your Day with a Task Completed

If you want to change the world… Start off by making your bed.

The first task of the day in SEAL training is making your bed; the instructor comes to inspect each barrack. He looks at the trainee from top to bottom, over every inch of the uniform. After being satisfied, he inspects the bed.

If anything needs to be corrected or according to the high standards of the SEAL training, then the punishment is already defined. The person has to cover himself from head to toe with wet sand (a sugar cookie).

Making your bed is expected from a trainee because it shows his discipline and attention to detail. It also reminds you of a job well done. The simple act of making your bed can be motivating as it uplifts you in the morning and satisfies you to end it right.

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Chapter Two: You Can’t Go It Alone

If you want to change the world… Find someone who helps you paddle.

SEAL training taught the value of teamwork. During the first phase, trainees had to carry a ten-foot-long rubber raft. Seven men worked together to get the rubber boat from the barracks to the destination after surfing. This act teaches trainees that no one can complete their training without others.

Sometimes, one of the crew members would get sick or hurt. At that time, other members picked up the slack. They paddled harder and gave extra food to the sick trainees, helping them feel stronger. This act taught us that you need people to help you through the difficult times in your life.

Chapter Three: Only the Size of Your Heart Matters

If you want to change the world… Measure a person by the size of their heart.

Once, during the morning swim session, the SEAL instructor inspected everyone’s life jackets. A new seamen recruit student came about five feet four inches tall. The instructor gave him a weird look, as he is six feet two inches high and believes swimming is for tall people. The instructor gave the new recruit a chance to prove him wrong.

When Mac reached the surf zone an hour later, the young seaman was already there, as he had finished swimming before the time. He proved himself right.

Seal training is about proving yourself, where height, skin color, and money don’t matter. Grit is more important than talent.

Chapter Four: Life’s Not Fair — Drive on!

If you want to change the world… Get over being a Sugar Cookie & keep moving forward.

Once, during the morning physical training, Mac broke some rules and was punished for being a sugar cookie. Being a sugar cookie means covering your whole body with wet SAND for the day, which tests your patience and determination. After being covered with sand, Mac went to the instructor MOKI about that.

However, as Mac learned more about MOKI, his admiration for him grew stronger.

Moki was a phenomenal athlete who loved cycling. Once, during a training ride, he had an accident, and he became paralyzed below the waist down. But he never complained about his condition; he worked on his creativity and became a well-known painter

Sometimes, things go differently than your best efforts and abilities. Instead of complaining or blaming circumstances, stay strong, look ahead, and keep moving forward.

READ It To Find True Happiness And Purpose of Life: Ikigai Book Summary (With Pdf)

Chapter Five: Failure Can Make You Stronger

If you want to change the world… don’t be afraid of the Circus.

Mac wasn’t very good at swimming when the SEAL training started. Mac came last in one swim class with Marc Thomas. The instructor yelled at them and punished them for The Circus. The Circus is a two-hour of additional calisthenics (bodyweight exercises) with nonstop harassment by SEAL combat veterans. This will leave you exhausted and incapable of meeting the requirements.

The Circus creates a cycle of failure that causes many students to quit their training. The instructor held the Circus just for us, as we had come in last in the swim. The punishment is hundreds of flutter kicks, push-ups, sit-ups, and eight-count bodybuilders. But while having a circus, our swims got better.

At the end of the training, there was an open ocean swim, and completing this swim was mandatory to graduate from SEAL training. Mac and Marc completed the swim in about two hours. They turned around and realized they were first; the other pairs weren’t visible. The instructor congratulated them as they made it. 

You will face many challenges and obstacles in life, and you might experience failure and disappointment. However, if you persevere and learn from those failures, you will become stronger and better equipped to handle life’s most challenging moments.

True leaders must learn from their failures and use them to motivate themselves. It’s impossible to avoid challenges, as everyone goes through them at some point. Don’t be afraid of the Circus. 

Chapter Six: You Must Dare Greatly

If you want to change the world… slide down the obstacle headfirst.

The obstacle course was part of SEAL training, and he had to slide down from a thirty-foot tower about a hundred feet high. Mac tried the safer feet—first technique, but reaching the ground took so long. The instructor yelled at him, saying that he must go with the commando style, which means going headfirst off the tower; this is the faster technique but riskier.

A week later, Mac finally went down headfirst and crossed the finish line in record time. It is essential to overcome your anxieties and trust your abilities to succeed.

Life is full of struggles, and failure is always possible, but if you let fear hold you back, you’ll never reach your full potential. You must take risks and push yourself beyond your limits to see what you can achieve.

Chapter Seven: Stand Up To The Bullies

If you want to change the world… don’t back down from the sharks.

The night swim is part of a series of long swims required to pass the SEAL training. Students are taken to San Clemente Island to conduct this swim, where various shark species are available.

Mac and Thomas are swim buddies for this task. The instructor briefs that all types of sharks are here, but you must be careful of the most aggressive man-eater in the ocean, the great white shark. It was taught that if a shark begins circling your position, stand in a position and do not swim. It would be helpful if you did not appear to be afraid. The sharks can smell the fear. They both want to be SEALs so much that nobody can stop them. Their goal gave him courage.

In life, there are also so many people, like sharks, who are called bullies. They sense the fear and overcome it using their strength. We must deal with them with courage. The courage is within all of us. Just dig deep, and you will find it.

Know How Robert Greene’s 48 Laws to Help You Be Smart, Make Good Plans, and Defend Yourself.

Chapter Eight: Rise To The Occasion

If you want to change the world… be your very best in the darkest moments.

After learning the basic scuba and bubbleless closed-circuit diving rig, the dive phase was conducted at the line of warships. It is the most difficult technical part of SEAL training. In this phase, a pair of SEAL Divers swim two thousand meters underwater to reach the enemy ship, place a limpet mine on the keel, and then return to the beach without being detected.

The only thing divers have with them is a compass and a depth gauge, and only the moonlight will help them to see the target ship, which will also fade when they reach under the ship. The keel is the darkest part of a ship. Divers can’t see much, and the ship’s machinery noise makes it difficult to focus.

Every SEAL knows that this is the most challenging mission. They must be calm and use their tactical skills, physical power, and inner strength.

At some point in life, we will all confront a dark moment. Something happens that will crush our inner spirit. In that dark moment, we reach deep inside ourselves to overcome that situation and plan our future.

Chapter Nine: Give People Hope

If you want to change the world… start singing when you are up to your neck in mud.

During the hell week, there will be no sleep for the next six days and constant physical and mental harassment by the trainer to make a person quit. Most students leave this week. On Wednesday, the training class was at the Tijuana mudflat, where drainage from San Diego created a deep, thick mud that feels like wet clay.

The trainees had to be in these mudflats for the next fifteen hours. So many races and competitions are held there to make you feel exhausted. By the evening, the temperature dropped, and everything seemed harder.

During this phase, everyone’s morale declined. The instructor purposely came to get the five quitters and finish this challenge. He brought hot coffee and chicken soup for the students. The students beside Mac started to move toward the instructor. He tried to stop them, but they couldn’t hold themselves in the mud.

Suddenly, everyone heard a singing voice. One of the tired students also wanted to quit but started motivating others by singing. All the quitters turned around and returned to Mac. The students circled and began singing loudly. The instructor shouted at them, but no one stopped singing.

It shows that even a person can unite the group. A single person can inspire others by giving them hope. Someday, we all find ourselves neck-deep in the mud. At that point, you must sing loudly, smile brightly, and lift others by giving them hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

Chapter 10: Never, Ever Quit

If you want to change the world… don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

On the first day of SEAL training, 150 students were there. The instructor came and started talking about the Seal Training process. He said this is the toughest course in the U.S. military, ending in 6 months.

The instructor told them that all trainees would be harassed and punished if they didn’t obey the training rules. The training would involve many runs, swims, obstacle courses, and hardships.

A Bell hung in the center of the compound so that all students could see it. He just had to ring the bell three times if anyone wanted to quit. Just by ringing the bell, he could avoid all the pain. The instructors added that if you quit, you must regret it for the rest of your life. Quitting never achieves easier things.

Six months later, only 33 students were present at the graduation. Some had taken the easy way and couldn’t handle the hard times in the training. But the quitters would later regret it.

Difficult times are always there in life. We have to be strong and refuse to give up on our dreams. Only then will you make something good in your life. Never ring the bell.

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