A daily routine is good; kindness is better

What would retired Admiral William H. McRaven of the United States Navy say about this unmade bed?


McRaven, a four-star admiral who served as the ninth commander of the United States Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014, was chancellor of The University of Texas System from 2015 to 2018. He gave a commencement address at UT in 2014 in which he told graduates if they wanted to change the world, they should start by making their beds. The speech is still popular on YouTube and McRaven later wrote a book, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World .

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, McRaven said in the speech.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

I pretty much always have been a believer in this. I was the odd teenager who made his bed. My college roommate and I both made our beds — and generally kept our room clean. If anything, Mark was more of a stickler about it than I was.

But for much of my adult life, I haven’t had to make the bed. As an early riser, I’ve always been the first one up, out of bed and out of the house. That changed awhile back when Janet switched careers and started leaving for work some mornings as early as 4:30.

And now I’m left to make the bed, which is OK with me. I don’t mind. It’s just the first step in a daily routine. I’ve maybe mentioned in the past: I like having a daily routine. At the moment, mine includes: Get up, make bed, get dressed, pour myself a cup of coffee, spend some time praying and reading the Bible, write for an hour or so, brush teeth, shave, head out the door for the gym, workout, shower, get dressed for work, eat breakfast. All of that happens from about 4:30 to 8:30 a.m. I go through pretty much the same routine every morning when I get to work and another routine in the evening when I get home. I’m worthless after about 8 p.m.

Some might find this boring at worst and predictable at best. I find comfort in it, so I start most days by making the bed.

Then there are mornings like the one photographed above. I could have moved them and made the bed. That may be what the admiral would have done.

But we live in a world that would benefit from more compassion and kindness — even when it’s only being extended to a couple of cats. I let ’em sleep. I can make the bed again tomorrow.

For those who won’t watch McRaven’s speech or read his book, here is the CliffsNotes version of what he said:

If you want to change the world:

  • Make your bed
  • Find someone to help you paddle
  •  Measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers
  • Get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward
  • Don’t be afraid of the circuses
  • Sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first
  •  Don’t back down from the sharks
  • You must be your very best in the darkest moment
  • Start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud
  • Don’t ever, ever ring the bell (quit)

I’m not a quitter, but it is time to quit for today. Thanks for stopping by. Be safe.

2 thoughts on “A daily routine is good; kindness is better

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