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Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven Summary | ePub | Free Audiobook

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Ask.com says the average American will meet upwards of 10,000 people in their lifetime. If you can just change the lives of 10 of those people and each of those people will change another 10, in 5 generations or 125 years, your impact would have been felt on a hundred thousand people. What will the world look like after you change it? 

Billy is a Navy SEAL, but he wasn’t always a SEAL, and we will go over the lessons he learned in training. 

free summary of Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven

Chapter-by-Chapter Summary of Make Your Bed

Chapter 1: Start your day with a task completed

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

As a SEAL trainee, Billy’s first task of the day was to make his bed for inspection. Making the bed correctly was not an opportunity for praise. It demonstrated his discipline, his attention to detail, and at the end of the day, it was a reminder that no matter what happened that day, he had done something well and had something to be proud of. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

Chapter 2: You can’t go at it alone

If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.

In SEAL training and in the military, in general, the value of teamwork is highly emphasized. The need to rely on someone else may mean life or death during combat. Everywhere Billy went that first phase of SEAL training, he and his fellow classmates were required to carry a 10-foot rubber raft above their heads, low slung and paddle in it, in the ocean. For that boat to reach its destination, everyone must carry it; everyone must paddle. On the days that Billy was exhausted or sick, the other members picked up the Slack. They paddled harder, and when they weren’t feeling a hundred percent, Billy returned the favor. No man can make it to the end by himself. You need people in your life to help you through difficult times. You cannot paddle the boat alone.

Chapter 3: Only the size of your heart matters

If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart. 

There are three SEAL trainees with different backgrounds. Mark is by far the biggest, strongest, and fastest. Tim is the smartest and came from the wealthiest family, but Billy is the only one that passed SEAL training. Why? Because determination and grit are always more important than talent. Seal training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed.

Chapter 4: Life’s not fair. Drive on

If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie, and move forward. 

When Billy messed up in SEAL training, his punishment was to jump in the surf zone, roll around in the sand and make himself a sugar cookie. The act of becoming a sugar cookie was utterly indiscriminate. There was no rhyme or reason. It is easy to blame your struggles in life on some outside force, just not trying because you believe fate is against you. Nothing could be further from the truth. The ordinary people and the great men and women are all defined by how they deal with life’s unfairness. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, no matter how good you are, you may still end up as a sugar cookie. Don’t complain. Stand tall, look to the future, and drive on.

Chapter 5: Failure can make you stronger 

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

This is a circus and involves lots of hours of training to become successful and for the performers to maximize their performance. This is The Circus in SEAL training involves lots of hours of training to become successful and for the performers to maximize their performance. 

Whenever Billy or his swim buddy failed in an event, they would both be subjected to The Circus, which was additional training every afternoon at the end of the day. Two hours of calisthenics and harassment, and every time Billy entered the circus, he’d be even more charged the next day, causing him to fail another event, and back to The Circus, he went. However, as the circus has continued, their swims got better and easier. They were now stronger, faster, and more confident.

In life, you will face a lot of circuses. You will pay for your failures, but if you persevere, if you let those failures teach you and strengthen you, then you will be prepared to handle life’s toughest moments.

Billy realized that no one is immune to mistakes, but true leaders learn from failure. Use lessons learned and make the next tough decision. 

Chapter 6: You must dare greatly

If you want to change the world, slide down the obstacle head first. 

Billy had to pass an obstacle course to get through SEAL training. The first time he did it, he played it safe and inched his way down the rope instead of going head, first off the tower, which was much faster, but also much riskier. One week later, he throws his body down that rope headfirst and set a new personal best. It was a simple lesson in overcoming his anxieties and trusting his ability to get the job done. Life is a struggle, and the potential for failure is ever-present with those who live in fear of failure or hardship, or embarrassment will never achieve their potential without pushing your limits, without occasionally sliding down the rope headfirst, without daring greatly. You will never know what is truly possible in your life.

Chapter 7: Stand up to the bullies 

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

Have a goal that is honorable and noble, and it will give you courage. Courage is a remarkable quality. With it, nothing and nobody can stand in your way. With it, you can accomplish any goal. With it, you can defy and defeat evil. Without it, others will define your path forward. Without it, you are at the mercy of life’s temptations. Without courage, you will be ruled by tyrants. Without it, no great society can flourish. Without courage, the bullies of the world will rise up. Bullies are all the same. They thrive on fear and intimidation. Bullies gain their strength through the timid and faint of heart. During SEAL training, Billy had to complete a 4-mile night swim in shark-infested waters. Bullies are like sharks that send fear in the water. They will circle the sea of their prey, struggling. They will probe to see if their victim is weak. If you don’t find the courage to stand your ground, they will strike. In life, to achieve your goals, you will have to be men and women of great courage. That courage is within all of us. Dig deep, and you will find it in great abundance.

Chapter 8: Rise to the occasion

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

Billy had reached the culmination of the dyes phase. His objective was to swim to 2000 meters underwater to an anchor vehicle and attach the practice mine on the keel. Just like the darks swim, we will all confront a dark moment in life, the passing of a loved one, divorces, or something else that crushes your spirit and leaves you wondering about your future. In that dark moment, reach deep inside yourself and be your very best.

Chapter 9: Give people hope

If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud. 

Billy was in the middle of hell week, six days of no sleep, and costing harassment in the Tijuana mudflats. Halfway through, some of the trainees were about to quit. However, they stopped when they heard a voice. No, not the voice of God; rather, a sleepy and raspy trainee singing in the mud. One voice became two, and two became three, and then before long, everyone was singing. The SEAL trainees had learned an important lesson. The power of one person to unite the group, to inspire those around him, to give them hope. If that one person could sing while neck deep in mud, so could the rest of them. If that one person could hang on and persevere, so could the rest of them. Hope is the most powerful force in the universe. Sometimes all it takes is one person to make a difference and provide that hope. 

Chapter 10: Never ever quit

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

On Billy’s first day of SEAL training, the instructor took them to a brass bell hanging in the courtyard. He then said, “If you don’t like the pain, if you don’t like the harassment ring this bell. You won’t have to get up early. You won’t have to do the long runs, the cold swims, or the obstacle courses. Let me tell you something. If you quit, you will regret it for the rest of your life. Quitting never makes anything easier. Life is full of difficult times, but someone out there always has it worse than you do. If you fill your days with pity, blaming your circumstances on someone or something else, then life will be long and hard. If, on the other hand, you refuse to give up on your dreams, then life will be what you make of it. Never, ever ring the bell.”

Remember, start each day with a completed task. Find someone who would help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life isn’t fair, and you will fail often. Take risks. Step up when times are toughest. Face down the bullies. Lift up the downtrodden and never ever give up. If you do those things, you can change your life for the better and maybe the world. 


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Adapted from GainKnowledge.

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