This surprising thing can change your whole day — and how successful you are

Making your bed can make you successful

I recently heard the 2014 commencement speech given by U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven at the University of Texas. Admiral McRaven was the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command that organized the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

In his address, Admiral McRaven outlined 10 points on how to change the world.

One of those points, the very first one, sounded funny and perhaps a little peculiar. But with some thought, it makes perfect sense. In fact, it makes great sense.

McRaven said: “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

This probably isn’t news to you—you just may not have thought of it in these terms.

When you make your bed, you:

  • Kick-start your day by getting moving. One of the hardest parts of any project—of any day—is getting started. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. A body at rest tends to stay at rest.
  • Have already accomplished something, and it’s only the very beginning of the day. Once you’ve made your bed, you’re set to accomplish other things. A made bed feeds into your motivation and momentum.
  • Can feel a degree of pride, however small, in having done something and done it well. This can transfer to other activities of the day. Define it, do it well, step back to look at it with pride, move on to the next.


Many of you will do the opposite.

You won’t make your bed. Instead, you’ll rationalize that it will just get messy again that night. In this case, you’ve missed an early shot of momentum.

You’ll make your bed but in a slapdash way, without really caring because you’ve deemed it unimportant. As McRaven says, how you do the small things is how you do everything. Do you bring quality to everything you do? The devil is in the details.

You’ll make your bed and decide you’re already tired and need a break in front of the television. Hours later, little else has gotten done that day.

There’s an added bonus to making your bed. On those days when nothing goes right and you get to your bedroom exhausted and frustrated, you enter the room and see a wonderfully made bed. It helps dissipate some of the frustration and prepare your mindset to have a better tomorrow.

Some of this may sound silly, even ridiculous. The only thing I can tell you is it works for me. Simple things—like a made bed—have the power to influence my mindset, my energy, and my productivity.  

Get your day started on the right foot.

(You can read all 10 points from Admiral McRaven at


About Joe Serio

Dr. Joe Serio is a keynote speaker, trainer, and author who helps the people in your organization navigate resistance to change so they can move forward successfully.

4 Responses

  1. I like the perspective on why to make my bed. 🙂

  2. Matt Bell says:

    I wasn’t a bed maker (to my wife’s consternation) but this makes too much sense! I be bed-making from now on.


Leave a Reply

* 3+7=?