Lucy Flinn August 17 2021 6 min read

Make Your Bed - Little Things Can Change the World

My Dad, Jay Garry, a retired Navy pilot, gave me a little book called "Make Your Bed," by highly decorated Navy Seal Admiral William H. McRaven. It changed my life. It's based on a 2014 Commencement Speech he gave at University of Texas that went viral. "Make Your Bed," covers lessons Admiral McRaven learned during Navy Seal training that helped him overcome professional challenges as a Commander in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as personal challenges throughout his life. He shares eye-opening, personal stories and explains how the little things do really matter. "Make Your Bed," has inspired me to be more disciplined with both physical and mental health and seek ways to pay it forward and look for ways to help others.

In that 2014 Commencement Speech, he encouraged the graduating class to change the world - 10 people at a time. By Admiral McRaven's calculations, if the 8,000 graduates each changed 10 peoples lives, after five generations of change, 800 million people’s lives would be positively impacted. Here are 5 of his 10 principles summarized.

1. Make your bed.

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

Simple, yet powerful. Daily discipline improves mental health. Bed making is strictly enforced in the military for this reason. It may seem silly, but believe me, accomplishing this one task in the morning is an easy win that sets the tone every day and can lead to big wins. Completing this one task improves mental health and discipline.

2. Find someone to help you paddle.

“It takes teamwork to get to your destination.”

Look for mentors and peers to help you through life. Never give up because you feel alone. You're not alone. As humans, we need to do stuff together. Seek out new friends and companions. It's as easy as a smile. 

3. The heart matters.

“If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.”

My dad always used to say to me, "the bigger they are, the harder they fall,"  or "great things come in small packages," probably because I'm just a tad over 5 feet tall. Admiral McRaven agrees that it's a person's heart that matters, not their size, race, gender or skin color. 

4. Work harder.

“If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.” 

If you fail a daily physical training event, the Navy SEALs’ “circus” is having to do two hours more of additional calisthenics. It's designed to wear you down, break your spirit and force you to quit. However, that extra training actually helps build strength and stamina, if you don’t quit. We all live though "circus's" throughout life. The pandemic has certainly been a circus and created anxiety, uncertainty and mental health challenges for most of us. I've found this pandemic year has forced me to look inward and reflect on priorities, gaining insight and perspective, both professionally and personally. This has made me want to work harder, be a better person and help others.

 5. Pay it Forward.

“Change the world 10 people at a time.”

Has this year been so incredibly hard, or was that just me? I try to think positively, every day. Yes, COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and quarantine requirements have been annoying and forced us to make significant lifestyle changes. It's also been devastating to disadvantaged low-income communities sparking a rise in hunger, homelessness and death by suicide. Take time to be more mindful of how we can not only take care of our own mental health and wellness, but how might we help others? It is imperative to connect with others in order to truly thrive. So why not go to a place of worship, soup kitchen or homeless shelter and serve those in the greatest need. Make it your mission to be kind to people you come across on Zoom, at the grocery store, wherever you are in the daily walk of life.

I love my job! My colleagues at Payroll Network and GovConPay share my core values and I consider my colleagues my family and an important part of my community. If you need help inspiring and engaging your employees in a remote/hybrid work environment, consider us. We welcome your comments below.