Reading List (Update): Life Lessons

By | February 22, 2019

[February 22, 2019]  Yesterday, while reading some of the comments in my post about Good Habits, several readers commented on a 2017 book by Admiral William McRaven.  They liked it.  This past weekend I was winter camping with a Boy Scout Troop, and I was able to apply some of McRaven’s thinking to the activities these boys undertook.  The newly elected senior scout leaders were settling into their positions and learning a bit about why being a leader is not easy but, when done correctly, is most satisfying.  Of course, mistakes were made by the boys, yet none were injured.  Only one cried (that I know of) and that was because some of his teammates locked him out of their cabin in the middle of the day.  We will deal with that issue promptly.  This is a long way around my point here, but McRaven’s book tells us how to avoid common mistakes and motivates us all never to give up.

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life … And Maybe the World, U.S. Navy Admiral William H. McRaven, 2017.

Surprisingly, USA Today calls this a “powerful” book.  Even the media’s hyper-sensitivity and political correctness, they still are honest enough to recognize those important life lessons in McRaven’s book.  Let’s not beat around the bush … this is a self-help book.  But it’s one that is “refreshing.”  McRaven illustrates his book with great anecdotes that help us navigate his easy-to-read book (even for young teenagers).  One thing I like is that he works hard at teaching us some of the forgotten methods of our parents and grandparents; we thought they were a bunch of old fogies but, boy, were we wrong.

The main point in “Make Your Bed” is that life is tough.  If you meet life’s challenges with discipline, determination, a positive attitude, and the support of others, you will have a meaningful life that inspires others.  Too many kids today are unable to take risks, make an informed decision, work on a team, or lift themselves up after a bad day.  Anyone can incorporate his life’s lessons into their daily activities.  McRaven does not, however, write his book as a military primer or for military types.  This book is for everyone; young or old.

Some of the lessons he teaches us are that life is not fair, teamwork is the path to success, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, taking calculated risks is good, have hope, and rise to the occasion when called.  This is solid, unfiltered advice.  As McRaven says, “don’t be a sugar cookie, move forward bravely and with resilience!”

Overall, an exceptional book and highly recommended.

To go to the full Professional Reading list, simply click on this direct link:

Side Note: Please remember and take a look at Tom Copeland’s reading blog.  His website, which I highly recommend, can be found here:

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

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

19 thoughts on “Reading List (Update): Life Lessons

  1. Ronny Fisher

    Practical, uplifting book on the old notion of life lessons. I liked the way he was able to keep my attention (so it was also entertaining) and make me think a little differently. 🙂

    1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

      I agree with you Ronny. This is not your typical airy fairy self-improvement book. It’s a primer from a real hero, an extraordinarily accomplished man on how to live an extraordinary life.

    1. Gil Johnson

      Ha ha. Me too. My wife gave me the book because it had the picture of Adm McRaven on the cover. Since I like military history, she thought it “might be interesting”. Of course, it is interesting and I appreciated her thoughtfulness. I highly recommend the book too. I plan to give it to my grandkids.

  2. AutisticTechie

    Another great review. I had never heard of the book before today so thank you for putting it out there for those of us who missed it. Also. love your series on books. Great winter activity when I want to avoid shoveling snow.

    1. Drew Dill

      Same here. That is why I keep coming back to this leadership blog. I’ve also recommended the book to a number of my friends.

  3. Lynn Pitts

    Thank you Gen. Satterfield for your series on great books of our time. I might offer a suggestion and you write a short article on the books you are reading now so that we can get a jump-start on reading them. Also, please continue this series.

  4. Edward Kennedy III

    As a former Vietnam Vet who served parts of two years in Vietnam, I really enjoyed
    reading this book. It ought to be a primer for any parent seeking to instill principles
    and values that are rare in this world of double-talk. This is especially true against
    the contagion of Trump. I also note McRaven is a man able, and willing to walk his talk.

    1. Anita

      Hi Mr. Kennedy. I’m one of your long-lasting fans. Please write more articles for us. Thank you and we are all praying that you continue to keep us safe from the evils of the world.

  5. Max Foster

    It may be a little book but it stands tall. “Make Your Bed” written by Admiral William H McRaven is filled wth life lessons. He tells us personal stories and also stories of other American heros. You will shed a few tears but will also rejoice and laugh out loud. You will feel pride in the accomplishments of these brave young men. The name of the book comes from the very first thing a prideful person does each day, he makes his bed. Interestingly, while in captivity Saddam Hussein did not make his bed.

  6. Eric Coda

    Yes, looks to me like a really pragmatic book. I watched the YouTube video of Adm McRaven giving the speech and thought it was insightful and entertaining (the latter being what most snowflake college students crave).

  7. Janna Faulkner

    I enjoyed reading this book last year. Gave it to my daugther who loved it too. Thanks.

    1. Albert Ayer

      I too read it last year and now have it on my bookshelf next to several other great books on how to make improvemeent to my life. Do they help? Yes. I plan to give these books to my kids someday when they are old enough.

    2. Andrew Dooley

      Make Your Bed is a phenomenal book written by a phenomenal soldier. I was as awed by the book as the 8000 graduates were in awe of the commencement speech at the University of Texas.

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