If You Want to Change YOUR World, Make Your Bed

My niece was the first one who said this to me. I mentioned it to my husband, a former Navy Lt. Colonel, “Ah, that was the speech by US Navy Admiral William McRaven.”

How does he know these things? He just has this truckload of miscellaneous information in his head.

But he was right. It was Admiral McRaven’s 2014 commencement speech giving an arsenal of motivation and inspiration. It’s a beautiful speech, and I urge you, if you are reading this blog, to watch his speech on Youtube or grab his book on Amazon.

I want to talk about this one statement, and I am going to take a little artistic license changing the statement from, “If you want to change THE world” to “If you want to change YOUR world”.

Since I’ve heard this statement, I’ve thought about it a lot. You know, I realized that everything I needed to learn in order to succeed at any endeavor, I could learn by making my bed.

There are 4 lessons you need to learn in order to be able to succeed:

  1. Start off Small,
  2. Willingness to Show Up Every Day,
  3. Ownership,
  4. Persistence.

Start off small. Every change needs baby steps. When I first learned to ride a bike, I started off as a toddler with a pedal car that I could race around the house. I learned to pedal which taught me going forward took effort from me. I learned the hazards of steering and without guidance I run into things. I graduated to a tricycle which allowed me to take these two lessons and add balance. I learned that I could go faster, but at a price. I had to pay more attention because the crashes hurt more. With each step, I learned more lessons. Yet, the biggest lesson was the need to start small.

The second lesson is the willingness to show up every day. You don’t have to put in 8 hours every day. You just must show up. Maybe you put in 5 minutes, 10 minutes, a ½ hour. Tax season is here, and I need to get my taxes done for the tax accountant. Who likes doing that? No one….. But what I’ve committed to doing is showing up every day for ½ hour to review the final entries on my profit and loss statement. And I made this commitment to myself! Whoa, I didn’t commit to my husband, the tax accountant, someone else? No. I committed to myself because I am important. My ability to keep my commitment to myself highlights how valuable I find myself.

Making your bed, the only person you are committing to is yourself. Here is your self-value meter. Showing up, you know you are valuable.

Ownership! Ownership comes in many varieties, but it all ends with “This is mine!” Making your bed is something you can own. There are no additional people involved in making your bed. It is all yours.

Ownership is also the sense of pride you take in your efforts. Maybe you start out irritated that you made this stupid commitment to make your bed. So, you just pull the sheets up and walk away. Before you go to sleep at night, evaluate your effort. You can tell a lot about the internal chatter of your mind by the effort you put in yourself. Does your bed say the whole process was a bother? Do you think you are a bother? Did you not make your bed? What does that say?

Ownership, the process of learning that you have value, your efforts are meaningful, and learning to value your own judgement instead of others.

Lastly, persistence. Things don’t always go as planned. Somedays are more complicated. But every day you can learn something. Let’s say you have an early appointment and forget to set your alarm clock. You wake-up late and decide you can’t make your bed and make your appointment. So, you pass on making your bed.

If you were to sit down and evaluate this at the end of the day, what would your assessment be? I’m going to throw out some options so you don’t get wrapped up in the 3 internal deaths: judgement, criticizing or blame.

First off, you learned that in order to keep this commitment to yourself, you must take ownership in other parts of your life. Your span of ownership must grow. That means, you must take ownership on setting your alarm to get up the next morning. Not your mom or someone else.

Second, life happens. It’s not going to be perfect all the time. What happens when you’ve increased the span of ownership for your actions and things still didn’t work out. Here is where you start to learn self-compassion. Maybe you can make your bed when you get home. Maybe you can make it up to yourself and straighten out your bathroom.

Persistence gives you the ability to find options.

O.k. so there you have it! Thank-you so much Admiral McRaven, what an amazing person you are. Good-luck and I must go get my sheets out of the dryer!

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