Admiral William McRaven was recently interviewed by Charlie Rose. Admiral McRaven had served as a Navy SEAL in the past. In this interview, McRaven told of his morning habit that his mother had instilled into him as a child that his bed had to be made, and he had to make it every morning. She taught him how to bring the blankets smoothly over the entire bed and how to place the best bed pillow ever properly on the bed to finish this task. His mother was a Texas school teacher and his father was an Air Force Officer.
He said he didn’t grasp the importance of that simple task of making his bed in the morning until he was in SEAL training where they were required not only to make the bed, but that it had to be done exactly by their standards in order to pass inspection. The bed had to be made with the 45 degree hospital corners, the pillow at the head of the bed had to be placed exactly in the right position, and the blanket had to be folded perfectly in order to pass the inspection. This inspection, in conjunction with the uniform inspection, was performed every single morning. Solidifying and reinforcing his childhood training, this inspection procedure was taking the required excellence in daily tasks to a whole new level.
McRaven said the lesson learned here was to do the first task of the day and to do it right. Then you could move on to the next task, always implementing the same attitude and mental fortitude in completing the task. There are very few who qualify for the level of discipline that is required by the strict standards in the SEAL training. It’s training for the highest and most mentally and physically taxing part of the military. It requires a high level of individual self-discipline and it starts right there — with individual self-discipline.