Good Habits #39: Keep Your Area Clean

By | February 21, 2019

[February 21, 2019]  “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”  So began a commencement speech by U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven to graduates at the University of Texas (see outtake at link here).  This is, of course, an analogy; one that helps us to remember the real message which is to get organized and stay disciplined if we want to be successful.  I say, keep your area clean.

University of Toronto Psychology Professor Jordan Peterson proposes in his latest book that there are some rules to how people can be successful.  Rule #6 is “Set yourself in perfect order before you criticize the world.”  Clean up your life.  Have some humility.  Be invested in your own improvement.

Perhaps it is ironic that with the growth of college ‘snowflakes’ and pajama boys living in their parent’s basements, personal responsibility has become a dirty word.  Discipline helps keep the machinery of groups, teams, and organizations running smoothly.  My experience in the military supports the idea that discipline – strong personal responsibility – is at the heart of ethical personhood.

My first assignment in the Army was as a Private (E-1, the lowest possible rank).  Upon arriving at my first duty station in West Germany, the newbie Private Satterfield was required to attend an orientation by the company First Sergeant.  I can still hear his thunderous voice in my head decades later.  He said that there is only one kind of discipline in “his army” and that is “perfect discipline.”

The ‘first shirt,’ as First Sergeants are often called, said that he expected me to do my job every day without fail, do as my team leader instructed, stay away from drugs (although alcohol was okay), and make my bed each morning.  He expected me to take responsibility for my actions.  That was okay with me.  I’m glad he was there.  U.S. forces in Europe were the tripwire for a Soviet invasion.  If we were to go to war, I wanted him in charge.

The lesson is simple.  Keep your area clean.  Responsibility means to do so without being told.  Whether our workplace, living quarters, or any place we happen to be, keep it clean.  Then we can do those tasks necessary to be successful.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

18 thoughts on “Good Habits #39: Keep Your Area Clean

    1. Gil Johnson

      A respectful, thought provoking book which should be required reading for all adults, and maybe reread a couple of times at different stages in a person’s life. It gives purpose and direction.

    2. Eric Coda

      The book came out in 2017 and has been a big hit. Lots of positive reviews. If you want to start yourself down a path of goodness, then begin by reading this book. High on my reading list for all-time best self-help books.

    3. Sadako Red

      This is a book that should be recommended reading by every young person. If you want to start improving your life and learn some valuable lessons, then read this book.

    1. José Luis Rodriguez

      Hey, thanks Drew. I read some of his tweets. Great stuff here.

  1. Scotty Bush

    If we all kept our areas in our lives clean there would less hate and less violence.

  2. Max Foster

    The whole idea here is that to ‘see’ the world properly, it needs to be seen with as little bias and stress as possible. Too many times we see things that are not there because of something going on inside us. This is why ideologies are so dangerous. Seeing the world thru ‘rose colored glasses’ comes with serious, negative risks.

    1. Shawn C. Stolarz

      Good points here Max. Let’s all get our act together and then try to more clearly see the world.

    1. Jonathan B.

      How sad that this young man was so sucked into the socialist/victimology of the leftists that he had to invent a hoax because it would make him the hero.

    2. Maureen S. Sullivan

      Sad but good that racist Jussie Smollett was caught. He should spend a long time in prison but that won’t happen. If he does, he will convert to Islam and become another crazy who opposes America.

      1. Willie Shrumburger

        Is he a racist? Yes.
        Is he stupid? No.
        Will he be the hero he wishes to be? Yes.
        This is American which is trending toward more of this socialist ideology.

  3. Army Captain

    Another great article in a long series showing simply how good habits can turn into goo things for the person and everyone around them. Yes, I too agree that we need to “make our bed” each morning to start our day organized and us mentally prepared.

  4. Janna Faulkner

    The whole idea to keep your act clean before you criticize others is as old idea as humans. Today, however, we seem to have forgotten that lesson.

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