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I cried this morning. At work. Tears of shame.
Every day when I get to work, I go through a thirty-minute routine. I write down the 3 things I want to accomplish that day. I write down my appointments. I write down a one-sentence prayer. I copy a quote to guide me. With the time remaining, I learn one new thing.
Today that one thing I learned was humbling. Shameful, actually.
I found a video of a commencement speech by Admiral William H. McRaven, USN, at University of Texas-Austin. Admiral McRaven’s title is Commander, US Special Forces Command. He’s the HMFIC of the Navy SEALs. He gave a short speech, which I’ve embedded below. He told the Class of 2014 how to change the world in 10 easy steps.
Stupid people don’t make Admiral. Misguided people don’t make SEAL. Admiral McRaven’s frist tip on changing the world is so simple and so obvious only a brilliant man with impeccable bearing could recognize it.
Here’s the transcript of the first tip, via Business Insider:
Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Viet Nam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.
If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.
It was a simple task—mundane at best. 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.
If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. 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.
I didn’t make the bed this morning. And, yes, I was the last one up.
Over the years, I’ve gotten into the habit of leaving the bed unmade. No one ever sees it. Who cares?
When I heard Admiral McRaven’s reason for making the bed every day, I cried. I’m worthless. I’m too lazy to make a bed? Seriously?
I watched the rest of Admiral McRaven’s incredible speech. The best commencement speech I’ve ever seen Ever. I watched it again. I cried more. Admiral McRaven needed only about 10 minutes to expose every one of my character flaws.
Yesterday, I wrote about things I did wrong with the Tea Party in the last five years. Today, Admiral McRaven told me why I did them wrong. I got sloppy. I turned my back on what I learned in boot camp in Orlando, Florida, in 1985.
So I came home from work and made the bed. I made the bed before I changed clothes, worked out, read the mail, or worked in the yard.
Of all the countless things I’ve done wrong in my life–all things I should cry about and ask forgiveness–I’d never have guessed that making the bed would make me cry.
Only a brilliant warrior-leader could point out the enormity of such a seemingly tiny flaw.
Thank you, Admiral McRaven.
Here’s the video: