Summary by Alyssa Burnette.Audiobook narrated by Blake Farha
How do you start the day? Do you have a routine or something you enjoy doing to bring order and structure to your day? In my case, that means making my bed every morning. It's a regular part of my morning routine and the first thing I do to start the day. And I have that in common with retired Navy SEAL Adm. William H. McRaven. McRaven learned the value of structure, routine and simple things like making the bed as a young man at his basic training camp and this had a powerful impact on his life. And because he still follows the rules he was taught during his SEAL career, McRaven knows firsthand how these principles can improve his life.
That's why he wants to share them with others: so that people who find their lives unfulfilling can learn to find joy in the simple things. And by that McRaven really means the simplest things, even small tasks like making the bed. So, over the course of this round-up, we'll examine the life lessons that have served McRaven well and learn how to apply them to your own life.
make your bed
It's fitting to start our first chapter with the book's title command, so without further ado, let's dive in! During his basic training in Coronado, California, McRaven learned two things early on: Always make your bed and always make it as soon as you get up. This might seem like too simple an order, maybe even so simple that it's not worth it, but McRaven soon realized that that was the point. Here's why: Anyone who has ever studied at university knows that a horde of young people living alone for the first time can quickly degenerate into chaos.
It also quickly shows its true colors as people begin to discover who learned to be responsible and organized and made it through college without the basic ability to do their own laundry. The same applies to the navy. However, these environments differ in a number of important ways, including the fact that in college you can get away with wearing your underwear inside out instead of washing it. You can leave your bed unmade for days and your bedroom littered with packets of potato chips and candy wrappers. And because your parents aren't there to correct you, you can get away with it until you're grown and have some sense. But that doesn't work in the Navy! As McRaven quickly learned, the ability to perform basic tasks and form a good personality; Hygiene habits say a lot about your character as a person. It also speaks volumes about his ability to represent his country and navy. And that's why it's so important to start the day with simple but necessary tasks like making the bed.
However, many of McRaven's countrymen disagreed. It wasn't clear if that was because they hadn't been asked to make the beds at home or because they didn't feel the task was important enough. But one way or another, many of them forgot about this address or deliberately ignored it altogether. As a result, their commander challenged anyone who couldn't make their bed to complete the "Sugar Cookie Challenge". That might sound yummy and delicious, because who doesn't love sugar cookies! - But don't be fooled! The Sugar Cookie Challenge entailed a cadet diving into the frigid Pacific Ocean, then rolling across the scorching sand until it was covered in "cookie crumbs" of glittering sand. This awkward mix of incompatible sensations was extremely uncomfortable, but maybe it wouldn't be so bad if you had to wash, would it? Mistake. Cadets who had "sugar cookies" had to stay that way for the rest of the day, performing all their usual drills and chores with the hot, sandy sand beneath their clothing, and being disciplined if they seemed to wither beneath their clothing. light pain. As you can imagine, this was a painful reminder to the cadets to always make their beds.
Fortunately, however, you don't have to complete the Sugar Cookie Challenge. You can only read about him and use this example to motivate yourself to make your own bed. And if you're still wondering why making your bed is important, let's put it this way: as you can see in McRaven's example, completing a simple task is a great way to inject accomplishment and motivation into your day. Starting your morning doing something that brings order, structure, and cleanliness sets a good tone for the day and tells your subconscious that you want the same things for your mind. So what have you got to lose? Start the day by making your bed!
trust your friend
McRaven's time as a Navy SEAL taught him another valuable lesson: he learned that you can't succeed without a friend behind you. Because SEALs, like the Army, Marines, or any other defense organization, are united against a common enemy, it is important to avoid petty power struggles and rivalries that could tear the unit apart from within. McRaven learned that in life, like in the Navy, if you want to fight together, you have to look out for one another. Unfortunately, McRaven learned this through painful first-hand experience when an ordinary skydive had unexpected and disastrous consequences. This happened when another SEAL's parachute collided with McRaven's, disrupting the author's flight and twisting his parachute. Unfortunately, it twisted around his leg before unfolding. This meant that the sheer pressure of gravity was acting not only on McRaven's parachute but also on his leg, and the pull was so severe that it shattered McRaven's pelvis and dislodged his abdominal muscles from his bones. I think it's safe to say that McRaven suffered unimaginable pain in this case, pain that left him badly injured and damaged his career as a Navy SEAL.
Under the circumstances, no one would have blamed him if he had succumbed to despair. Had he allowed it, her story might have ended very differently. Perhaps the need for painkillers could have caused him to develop an addiction. Perhaps he could have spent the rest of his life wallowing in his unhappiness. And indeed, either way would have been easy; McRaven was certainly tempted by these prospects. But although his SEAL "partner" hadn't looked after him that day and made sure McRaven was safe before making his own move, the author had another life partner who was there for him: his wife Georgeann . She definitely supported him and stood by him on his long and painful road to recovery. To this day, McRaven credits his recovery and the path of his future to Georgeann and her support, acknowledging that without her he would have given up. So this story goes to show that you really can't make it through life without a friend behind you. Make sure you find a good one.
Failure is an opportunity
Have you ever failed an important test or interview and said, "Wow, I'm so glad I flunked it!" Probably not, right? That's because nobody sees failure as a good thing; If it were up to us, we would all always win. But as you've probably noticed by now, life doesn't work that way. However, that doesn't mean you should give up when you inevitably fail. Instead, try to apply the life lesson McRaven learned firsthand and live as if failure is opportunity. Because while it sounds contradictory, the truth is that failure is an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve. McRaven also learned this the hard way when he was part of a dive team that somehow never won. While practicing their basic underwater demolition drills, McRaven's team always finished last. And if you hated the sugar cookie punishment, just wait until you hear what the losers endured!
The prize for last place was to "compete" at El Circo. This exercise was not optional and should be strenuous enough to inspire many hopeful SEALs to abandon and drop out of the program. When you think about it, that's pretty daunting for a program that already stands as the most intense defense drive our country has to offer. So what could be too strenuous for the best of the best? The circus is an intense, continuous two-hour exercise with resistance exercises at the end of the day. As you can imagine, it's not like SEALs don't put in intense training sessions all day every day, so most people don't have anything else to do at that time of the day. They definitely don't have the strength to endure two hours of brutal harassment from their commanders literally shouting at them to surrender.
But that's the point of the exercise. SEAL commanders are smart enough to know that if you can't hack the circus, you can't become a SEAL. So you want to make sure only the strongest and most dedicated survive. McRaven knew that and he knew it was going to be difficult. But he also knew that he had to be tougher than anything that was in front of him. So he decided that he would not be afraid of the circus and would win no matter what. And that's exactly what he did. He didn't want to fail and go through the circus, but he knew this was an opportunity that would make him better. So he used it as an opportunity to grow and his swimming time started to improve. This experience also helped him set an example which encouraged his fellow cadets and before they knew it the entire team's time had improved! When their final cardio workout was over, McRaven's team was ready for the swim portion. In fact, they were so done that they were the first to finish.
So, from this experience, McRaven learned an important life lesson: you can't be afraid of failure, and you can't be afraid of the circus. Because in life, as in the SEAL program, you will be exposed to both a lot. So you can't let it destroy you. Instead, you can choose to see your failure as an opportunity and reap the rewards. And having seen them in action in his own life, McRaven believes these lessons in life, leadership and entrepreneurship can be beneficial; You don't have to be a Navy SEAL to make good use of these lessons. Because there will be times when your business will fail. There will be times when your co-workers don't appreciate you or your competitors try to stab you in the back. There will be times when you have to do the same thing over and over again to finally get it right. But don't be afraid of these times.
swim with the sharks
What do you want most in life? What would you do to get it? If you were told that all you wanted was just across a small body of water, would you immediately jump in and look for it? What if this body of water was infested with sharks? This information would make most of us stop for a second and consider our options. Do we really want something enough to risk being eaten alive? While this may seem like an overly scary scenario, McRaven and his unit faced the exact same situation as part of their basic training. (That's right, Navy SEALs are so intense that swimming with sharks is just another day in the park for them.) And to make things even scarier, they had to perform this feat in the dark.
On the occasion in question, McRaven and his friend were instructed to swim four miles at night through pitch black water. You wouldn't be able to see anything. And they would definitely swim with sharks. The only question was which species. His intelligence agency had already confirmed that these waters were heavily populated by hammerheads and leopard sharks, but there was also a strong possibility that the waters were being frequented by a large influx of sharks at this time of year. White clothing. (Not scary at all of course, just the literal inspiration for JAWS!) It would have been easy to back down or say it wasn't worth it. For many, giving up their dreams of becoming a Navy SEAL might have been easier than risking diving into shark-infested waters. But McRaven knew that some goals are more important than fear or your personal comfort zone. So he overcame his fears and jumped right in.
And he argues that the same applies to us. You may not be asked to literally swim with sharks, but there may be times when your situation is so hostile that you feel like you're surrounded by people who want to rip you to pieces or eat you alive. But McRaven believes that circumstances shouldn't intimidate you into giving up. As you've seen firsthand, courage will take us as far as we let us go. So, dive in, swim with the sharks and get your courage up!
It is unlikely that most people reading this will become a Navy SEAL; Rather, there is a greater chance that you are an entrepreneur or some type of executive. And while the life of a Navy SEAL may seem incredibly distant from his own, McRaven argues that the life lessons he's learned during his time in the Navy can benefit all. No matter what you want to do with your life, take a page from McRaven's book and let his secrets of success be your guide. Start each day by making your bed. Find a friend you can trust and always watch his back like you expect him to have yours. Don't be afraid of a sugar cookie, don't be afraid of the circus and don't be afraid to swim with sharks.