The large achievements of a lifetime depend on many small daily accomplishments. That is the first lesson in this collection of insightful advice from a Navy SEAL admiral. Of course, there is a lot of good advice floating around. It is the flotsam and jetsam of philosophers and various “great men” who are sometimes, perhaps oftentimes, misquoted. (See “Fools, Cowards, and Thucydides” on this blog.) This book is straight from the original author. The ten lessons are easy to understand and apply.
Making your bed is Rule #1: “Start the day with a task completed.” The admiral points out that if nothing at all goes well for the rest of the day, at least when you come home, your bed will be nicely made and waiting for you. Allow me to add that we all really must achieve many small tasks to start the day. But making your bed is optional. So, if you set that as your daily task, you will have begun the day by doing more than the minimum to get by.
Rule #4: “Life is not fair—drive on!” This ties in to Lesson #5: “Failure can make you stronger.” In SEAL school, the instructors pick on you. They harass you. You can do everything right and for no reason whatever, you will be ordered to do punishment duty. Most often, you become a “sugar cookie.” You run into the surf fully clothed, get completely soaked, and then roll around in the sand until you are completely covered and look like a sugar cookie. You stay like that the rest of the day. It is unarguably unfair because it is meted out to anyone at all for absolutely no reason. The purpose is to teach the best warriors that life is not fair. You can fail for no fault of your own. And you have to carry on anyway.
The book is easily available and affordable. Amazon and Barnes & Noble have identical pricing for print and electronic versions. I borrowed it from the city library. At 130 pages, widely set on 5-1/4 x 7-inch pages, it cannot take one hour to read aloud. The commencement address that launched this runs about 20 minutes on You Tube here. William H. McRaven currently serves as the chancellor of the University of Texas system.
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