Former US Navy Admiral Says If You Want To Change the World, Start by Making Your Bed


I am what many people would call a creature of habit. I love my perfectly planned out schedule and thrive off of the organization in my life.

If someone observed my movements for a week, they would see just how meticulous I am to begin each and every day exactly the same.

After I turn off my alarm — only allowing myself one push of the “snooze” button — I get up and make my bed. For some reason, making my bed in the morning is so important to my routine.

Maybe it’s the feeling that if I don’t accomplish anything else today, at least I’ve made my bed or it’s one thing I can control before a hectic day.

But one former U.S. Navy admiral actually says that starting the day with making your bed can help you change the world.

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Former U.S. Navy Adm. William H. McRaven started his inspirational speech, “If you wanna change the world, start off by making your bed.”

Making your bed in the morning means that you’ve started your day by accomplishing a task. “It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another.” This makes for an extremely productive day.

“Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter,” McRaven said. “If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right.”

The former admiral also pointed out that even if you have a bad day, you’ll come home to a made bed.

He then changed the direction of his speech with anecdotes from Navy SEAL training. During training, the SEAL hopefuls have to make a long swim through shark-infested waters. The students are told that if a shark approaches them, they have to stand their ground and then punch the shark in the snout.

“There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim, you will have to deal with them” McRaven said. “If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.”

In another training activity, the students were split into different boat crews. “The Munchkin” crew of men no taller than 5 feet, 5 inches was the best and fastest crew. They were from a variety of different backgrounds and even though they were made fun of for their size, they still were the first to reach the shore.

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“SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education, not your social status,” McRaven continued. “If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not by the size of their flippers.”

In their final task, the students had to spend the night in the sludge between San Diego, California, and Tijuana where it was cold and wet. As his training group was forced to sit in the mud for hours, their superiors said that if just five people give up on being a SEAL, they can all get out of the mud and warm back up. Instead, one person started to sing. And then another and another before the whole group was singing. “And somehow, the mud seemed a little warmer, and the wind a little tamer, and the dawn not so far away,” McRaven said.

“If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person. A Washington, a Lincoln, King, Mandela, and even a young girl from Pakistan, Malala. One person can change the world by giving people hope.”

The former admiral concluded, “So if you want to change the world, start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often.

“But if you take some risks, step up when the times are the toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden, and never, ever give up, if you do these things, the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today. And what started here will indeed have changed the world for the better.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith