The secret to success: making your bed
I didn’t make my bed this morning. My husband leaves for work nearly an hour before I do and it takes forever for me to make the damn bed alone, because it’s a king size, which means I have to walk around it about 20 times to get the covers right, and then there are about a dozen pillows to arrange. Seriously, it’s a big project. Also, I have to get the toddler dressed, fed, and off to daycare.
So the bed isn’t made.
But I try to make it on weekends, and on weekday mornings when I get up early enough, because making your bed is one of the cornerstones of success. If you want to change the world, be someone, or – yes – find a job, make your bed. This is one of the most commonly offered pieces of success advice, and it’s also one of the most valuable.
If you want to get a great job, make your bed every morning. Do it religiously and do it with attention. Do as I say, not as I do.
This is the advice offered in a University of Texas, Austin commencement speech from last year, given by US Navy admiral William H. McRaven. The speech found its way back into the news this week since it’s graduation time again. And it’s worth a re-watch, if you’ve got two minutes (You can see the entire speech on Youtube. The section about making your bed is posted below).
Making your bed sets the tone for the day. Accomplishing that one small task gives you a small sense of accomplishment, making it easier to tackle the next slightly larger task, and the next, and the next…
Taking it a step further than where McRaven takes it, think of making the bed as a domino. A domino, when placed in sequence, can knock over a domino 1.5 times larger than itself. So, as demonstrated here, a domino that is 5mm high and 1mm thick can set off a chain reaction that will knock down a 13th domino that is over a metre high and weighs over 100 lbs. As University of Toronto physic professor Stephen Morris explains, if there were 29 dominos, the last domino would be the size of the Empire State Building.
According to Gary Keller, author of The One Thing, effective planners are able to identify the “lead domino” – the one task that will cause all the other related tasks to topple in sequence.
So, since we don’t always know what that lead domino might be, it makes perfect sense to start by making your bed. Watch this video for inspiration. Then go make your bed.