Digital Access

Digital Access
Access and all Shaw Media Illinois content from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

News, features, sports, opinion and more!

Email Newsletters

Sign up for MyWebTimes email newsletters and stay in the know.
Local Columnists

WRITE TEAM: Little things can change the world

Did you make your bed today?

One of the first tasks assigned to children is learning how to make a bed. Straightening the sheets, fluffing the pillows, and pulling the bedspread taut can be the first step toward a neat bedroom.

I am a firm believer in bed-making. An unmade bed makes the whole room look messy. I don’t like wrinkly sheets and blankets; it reminds me of being sick. And I want to see that pretty quilt spread on top.

I’ve always made my bed, and when I heard about a book called “Make Your Bed” by U.S. Navy Retired Admiral William H. McRaven, I knew I had to read it.

But it is not a lesson on neatness. It’s a lesson on life.

Subtitled “Little Things That Can Change Your Life … And Maybe the World,” the book has 10 short chapters based upon a graduation speech made by Admiral McRaven at the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. He used 10 principles he learned during Navy SEAL training that not only helped him climb through the ranks but are also practical tools everyone can use.

His advice is realistic. He writes about his successes as well as his failures in simple steps. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before, but his writing style is concise, clear, and to the point. There are many stories and explanations of the military way of getting things done, but you don’t have to be in the service to understand and relate.

McRaven believes what he outlines will change you, the world around you, and generations to come.

Daily success and a positive mindset will be yours when you start your day off by completing one task. It begins with Chapter One: “Start Your Day with a Task Completed.” McRaven tells that the barracks at SEAL basic training are quite sparse. The first thing trainees do each day is make their bunk to precise requirements: the pillow is centered at the top and intersected at a 90-degree angle with the blanket at the bottom. Hospital corners must be tight. A quarter bounced on the bed must bounce several inches off the bed. No exceptions, no changes.

Why is making your bed properly such a big deal? It demonstrates discipline and attention to details. It’s a way to start your day off with pride and at the end of the day, is a reminder that whatever else may or may not have gone well, this job did.

The subsequent chapters are equally encouraging, but I don’t want to give away all the details; you should experience the book for yourself. But I will say that my other favorite sections include “Stand Up to the Bullies” and “Give People Hope.”

Everyone can use some inspiration. Morning is the logical time to start. If making your bed isn’t for you, find something else that is. Incorporate some task into your routine that will set a positive tone for the rest of your day.

We don’t have to be a Navy SEAL Admiral to change the world. Each of us has the courage within to inspire and lead.

Little things matter. Which will turn into big things. And change our world.

KAREN ROTH, of Ottawa, is a semi-retired, original member of the Write Team. She can be reached at

Loading more