Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Simple Task, public domain

Greetings All:

You might have heard about the simple task that was recently proposed in a commencement speech a few months back.  It is so simple that it could border on being ridiculous.  It's this:  Make your bed.

Yup, that's it, make your bed.  Not very "Carpe diem" is it?  You might be inclined to dismiss this advice as being nothing more than a vengeful nagging from our moms back in our teenage days.  I had the similar inclination when I first heard about this "advice."

Then I learned of the source, United States Navy Admiral William H. McRaven.  Now being an Admiral is a huge deal.  However, there is something even more unique about this man.  He's a Navy Seal.  So when someone of his accomplishments gives advice (absent on a penny stock to buy), I am going to listen.  Here's what Admiral McRaven had to say:

“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another,..."

The Admiral does not praise the glory of making one's bed.  In fact he calls it, "...a simple task, mundane at best..."  Yet it is the simple tasks that matter.  In a vacuum?  Well, true, in a vacuum little things do not matter.  But here's the deal:  We do not live our lives in a vacuum, we live it in context to and with everything else.  In that light, everything does matter and it adds up.

Admiral McRaven goes on to offer some great (and brutally harsh) advice:  "If you can't do the little things right, you'll never be able to do the big things right."

After having hung out on this planet for more than a couple of years, I think the man's onto something.  Little things do matter.  One of Colin Powell's 13 Rules for Leaders is (8) "Check small things."  By the way, he's got the same number of stars as the Admiral (and is a former Secretary of State).  Coincidence he thinks the same way?  Nah.

In the news link below is Admiral McRaven's speech in its entirety.  It's worth checking out and I promise, it is not that long.  Watch it while your coffee is brewing or whatever you're doing, it's worth it.   

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I did a bit of digging to see if anyone else had the same opinion about the virtues of making one's bed.  Dr. Christine Carter offers these thoughts:

Read more here: 

Dr. Christine Carter offers these thoughts
"Making the bed contributes to happiness because it is a “small win” in the willpower department. Loads of research shows that when we focus on one small area of improvement–standing up straighter, or watching a bit less TV, or meditating a few minutes a day–the improvement spills over. We then find ourselves exercising a bit more, too, or procrastinating a bit less.  Our good habits, large and small, can make life easier, happier, and more meaningful."

I have no idea what percentage of you reading this blog already make your bed.  It may be all of you.  If so, then congratulations, you're in great company.  If not, then perhaps it is worth giving it a shot.  I've read that it takes about 21 days to form a new habit so if you start today, then sometime next month you'll see if this is a habit or not.  And by the way, "yours truly" is someone who is (ahem) in need of making this a regular habit.
And that leads me into a final thought about parenting.  It is one thing to tell your kids to do something.  It is another thing entirely to both tell them to do something and also practice what you preach.  As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., famously said, "The best sermon is a good example."  If we want to teach this habit to our kids, we should do it ourselves.   That advice transpires beyond making our beds of course.  However, it's a good place to start, especially first thing in the morning.

Be well my friends,


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