Make Your Bed
By Paul Morrone, CFP®, CPA/PFS, MSA
I make my bed in the morning, every morning. My mother would be proud and I’m sure some of the credit is due to her beating it into my head for the 26 years I lived under her roof. But I don’t do it because I’m told to. I don’t do it because Jill wants it done. I don’t do it because someone could walk into the house and judge me for having a messy bedroom. I do it for the same reason I keep an impeccably neat, clean and organized garage. For the same reason that I relentlessly pick up Kyle’s toys, organize my closet or even ensure that all the screws on the light switch faceplates all point vertically. Shockingly, it isn’t because I’m neurotic or OCD (although you may disagree).
Don’t get me wrong, I still went through the sloppy teenage years (much to my parent’s dismay) and fumbled my way through college, but as I’ve grown older, I get more and more pleasure out of living in a neat and organized environment. I first noticed I had a tendency for neatness as a teenager. My friends will attest that I always had the cleanest car in the parking lot, inside and out. There were never water bottles rolling around the passenger footwell, never wrappers or drive-through bags sitting on the seats and if there was a rare crumb lying around, it didn’t last long. Needless to say, nothing has changed there. Even with kids, I’ve managed to maintain a shockingly clean car (no food in dad’s car…).
I led with the comment about making my bed for a reason. A few years back, I had the pleasure of listening to William McRaven, a retired four-star Admiral in the Navy, speak at a conference. You may not be familiar with Admiral McRaven, but you are definitely familiar with his infamous work. I can’t possibly summarize his incredible biography (which is worth Googling) in anything less than a novel, but it is worth noting that he was instrumental in the capture of Saddam Hussein, the assignation of Osama Bin Laden and helped to neutralize the pirates that had taken over the Maersk Alabama resulting in a successful rescue of Captain Phillips (yes, that one, from the movie starring Tom Hanks).
William McRaven also wrote a book (many books actually), entitled ‘Make Your Bed.’ While I haven’t read the book, I have heard him speak on the topic. He talks about his days at SEAL training camp, and how he was taught to make his bed each morning – to exacting specifications – because it was the only thing that would happen that day that he could control the outcome of. And there was never and excuse not to have it done. Once he stepped foot out of the bedroom, he’d have no control over what was coming his way. He stresses the importance of this because it was one of the few things he could rely on to keep him emotionally grounded during the incredibly rigorous SEAL training and subsequently in the many missions he participated in throughout his career.
While I hope to never be faced with any of the challenges that Admiral McRaven overcame during his training and career in the Navy, I do value the importance of controlling what I can control. Those that have sat in the conference room with me have heard me use that exact phrase many times over the years, and I continue to stress the importance of it in both my personal and professional life.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it has been to expect the unexpected. Whether its your kid getting a cold, a flat tire, a financial market meltdown or a pandemic, shi*t happens, as they say. We are all hoping for a brighter 2021, but for now I’m going to continue to take on life one day at a time. God willing, I’ll wake up tomorrow morning with a smile and it will be a new day. And I’ll make my bed.