Updated: Apr 29, 2022
by Tim Tibbitts
In May, 2014, former Navy Seal Admiral William H. McRaven gave a graduation speech to students at the University of Texas. In his speech, Admiral McCraven shared with graduating seniors ten lessons he learned from Navy Seal training, an experience he describes as “a lifetime of challenges crammed into six months.” Several are rather surprising, including the first: Make your bed every day.
On the morning after coming across Admiral McCraven’s speech while searching for “motivational speeches” on YouTube, I made a point of making my bed, and with just two exceptions, I have made my bed every day since.
“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, and by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”
He goes on to explain that this seemingly mundane habit “reinforces the fact that the little things in life matter, and if you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right.”
I don’t recommend sharing the link with your kids just so that they’ll start making their beds. Rather, I share it because there’s some good life advice in this speech that I think will resonate with a lot of high school kids.
My heart goes out especially to those kids who are feeling simply overwhelmed by all that life seems to be throwing at them. Applying this seemingly simple advice from Admiral McCraven’s speech has served as a powerful reminder to me when life feels overwhelming that a sense of order, of accomplishment, and of forward progress can start with a single tiny task each morning.
Our teens don’t always want to hear it from us. So let the admiral tell them directly—send them this video. And if it happens leads to tidier bedrooms, that wouldn’t be all bad, would it?