Make Your Bed: Summary & Review

make your bed book cover

In Make Your Bed (2017), admiral William McRaven teaches you the mindsets, beliefs, and values of the tenacious, high-value men.
If you want to become a tenacious man, read on!

Key Takeaways

  • Start each day with a small win
  • Going it alone is weak: find great teammates instead (including in your relationship)
  • Dare greatly and face your fears


About The Author: William Harry McRaven is a retired United States Navy admiral. He started off as a SEAL and served in the Persian Gulf War.

Make Your Bed

Make your bed is meant in part figuratively, but certainly also literally.

The reason why you do your bed is to start the day with an accomplished task. You start with a win, and it puts you in the positive mood of someone who gets things done.

You Need a Teammate

You need friends and teammates in life.

And I particularly loved that one of William McRaven’s examples of a teammate is actually his wife.
It helped him get through a difficult time in life in which, without her, he would have become depressed.
That’s very powerful and very vulnerable of him to say and he’s right. The science of attachment indeed explains that having strong emotional support from our partners makes us stronger.

Life is Unfair: Get Over It

Life is unfair, and you should stop wasting your time and energy complaining about it.
That’s how it is, do something about it instead of complaining.

Use Your Failures

McRaven’s swimming team during his SEAL training was constantly arriving last.

That also means they’d have to go through intense punishment training called “the circus”. The circus was so tough that many members would quit instead of finishing it.

But he went through it, and at the final swim test, his team finished first. That’s a lesson on how to use your failures.

And if you want a more intellectual approach, I am a big believer in what Ray Dalio says: pain + reflection are your biggest growth opportunities.

Personally, I used my failure for motivation.
And my failure and my darkest days are the driving force behind this website.

Dare Greatly

There is always the possibility of failure. The more you go for bigger goals, the bigger the possibility of failure.

If you want to achieve anything significant in life, you must move toward the obstacles head first. Those who live in fear of failure and embarrassment commit the ultimate sin: not living up to their potential.

make your bed book cover

Real-Life Applications

  • Stand Up to Bullies

I loved the analogy of the sharks and the sharks of life.
That’s basically the spirit of this website. Face the sharks and stand up to bullies. You do it for yourself, but also for the world.

  • Accept Life’s Not Fair

This is another big lesson. Life is not fair: accept it. And use your energies and wits to work around, learn from it, leverage it, or… To contribute to making it fair (without whining).


  • Never Quit…? 

I can imagine people who finish exhaustive training tend to feel proud they went through and tend to look down on those who quit.

The author indeed stresses the idea of never quitting and equates quitting to “ringing the bell” when a Navy SEAL would quit the training.

I think there are many situations when quitting is the best option.
Quitting your dull job, quitting before your risk severe injuries… Or even quitting Navy SEAL training if that’s not your thing. Maybe you’ll go ahead and do wonderful things without your life.

  • Make your bed… Literally?

Personally, I believe it’s a waste of time. And especially so for a driven man looking to maximize the use of his time.
You’re going to sleep in it again in the evening anyway (or if you’re like me, even work while you’re lying on it).


  • Teamwork

I love how to Make Your Bed stresses that having a strong network around you, including your romantic partner, is key to making you stronger.

  • Motivational… In a Positive Way

Make Your Book is Motivational… But not in any empty way. It’s motivation in a very powerful way. For example when it says that the smaller crew always finished first in his training. Nothing mattered, he says, but your will to succeed.

Measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers

There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you wanna change the world: face the sharks


Make Your Bed is a powerful book on the power of persistence and heart.

But also on the importance of building a great supporting team around you, including your relationship.

I decided to give Make Your Bed 4 stars because, after all, the messages are well-known. Albeit they are experience-backed and well-told.
But I was on the verge of giving it 5 stars.

Read more summaries or get the book on Amazon

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