CHAPTER ONE - Start Your Day with a Task Completed

28 July 2023

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

The barracks at basic SEAL training is a nondescript three-story building located on the beach at Coronado, California, just one hundred yards from the Pacific Ocean. There is no air- conditioning in the building, and at night, with the windows open, you can hear the tide roll in and the surf pounding against the sand.

Rooms in the barracks are spartan. In the officers' room, where I berthed with three other classmates, there were four beds, a closet to hang your uniforms, and nothing else. Those mornings that I stayed in the barracks I would roll out of my Navy "rack" and immediately begin the process of making my bed. It was the first task of the day. A day that I knew would be filled with uniform inspections, long swims, longer runs, obstacle courses, and constant harassment from the SEAL instructors.

"Attention!" shouted the class leader, Lieutenant Junior Grade Dan'l Steward, as the instructor entered the room. Standing at the foot of the bed, I snapped my heels together and stood up straight as a chief petty officer approached my position. The instructor, stern and expressionless, began the inspection by checking the starch in my green uniform hat to ensure the eight- sided "cover" was crisp and correctly blocked. Moving from top to bottom, his eyes looked over every inch of my uniform. Were the creases in the blouse and trousers aligned? Was the brass on the belt shined to a mirrorlike radiance? Were my boots polished bright enough so he could see his fingers in their reflection? Satisfied that I met the high standards expected of a SEAL trainee, he moved to inspect the bed.

The bed was as simple as the room, nothing but a steel frame and a single mattress. A bottom sheet covered the mattress, and over that was a top sheet. A gray wool blanket tucked tightly under the mattress provided warmth from the cool San Diego evenings. A second blanket was expertly folded into a rectangle at the foot of the bed. A single pillow, made by the Lighthouse for the Blind, was centered at the top of the bed and intersected at a ninety-degree angle with the blanket at the bottom. This was the standard. Any deviation from this exacting requirement would be cause for me to "hit the surf" and then roll around on the beach until I was covered head to toe with wet sand- referred to as a "sugar cookie."

Standing motionless, I could see the instructor out of the corner of my eye. He wearily looked at my bed. Bending over, he checked the hospital corners and then surveyed the blanket and the pillow to ensure they were correctly aligned. Then, reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a quarter and flipped it into the air several times to ensure I knew the final test of the bed was coming. With one final flip the quarter flew high into the air and came down on the mattress with a light bounce. It jumped several inches off the bed, high enough for the instructor to catch it in his hand.

Swinging around to face me, the instructor looked me in the eye and nodded. He never said a word. Making my bed correctly was not going to be an opportunity for praise. It was expected of me. It was my first task of the day, and doing it right was important. It demonstrated my discipline. 

Make Your Bed
Struggling to find structure? Finding yourself lacking motivation? Start by making your bed. Maintaining routine and structure is more important than ever in the age of home working, flexi-time and the general chaos of life. In Make Your Bed, Admiral William H. McRaven shares 10 life lessons he learned during his Navy Seal training that helped him overcome challenges not only in his long Naval career, but also throughout his life. He will teach you how to . . . · Master the essential daily habits for staying grounded · Learn how to keep your mind calm and ready for the day ahead · Find solace and companionship in the people around you · Cope with setbacks and keep moving forward · Stray beyond your comfort zone and take risks Written with great humility and optimism, this timeless book provides simple and universal wisdom, practical advice, and words of encouragement that will inspire every reader.