According to research, 59% of you will say ‘No’. 27% will say ‘Yes’. The rest will have paid someone else to do it for them. What if I told you that many great leaders make their own beds? Will this change what you do tomorrow?
I am a busy person. That was what I used to say. Because it made me sound important – important people are always busy, right? Actually, no. Being busy is a choice. Just like choosing how I fill my days is a choice. If we’re too busy to do something, we’re making a choice to prioritise the things we do. When I was a busy person, I never made my bed. What’s the point? Nobody sees it and it’s going to get messed up anyway when I get into bed at night. So making my bed was considered a waste of time. The time I don’t really have because I’m a busy person. Being busy means I need to be efficient with my time and that, in turn, means I can’t waste any of it doing things that are useless and add no value. Things like making my bed.
Great leaders make their beds
Until I found out that many great leaders make their beds. That’s right. Great leaders make their own beds. They don’t see it as a waste of time and they don’t pay someone else to do it for them. Great leaders make their own beds. But why??
One great leader summarised it succinctly in a University commencement speech:
“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”
What he’s saying is that one simple task is all it takes to spark your sense of accomplishment and is the encouragement you have to get other tasks done throughout the day.
Another reason to make your bed every morning is because it’s the little things that matter. Making your own bed is not something that you do for anyone else. It’s something you do because it matters to you. But why should making your bed matter to you?
You lie in the bed you make
There’s a saying “You lie in the bed you make.” It is often used in a negative context. However, taken literally, do you really want to lie down on a messy bed every night? Your bed is the first and last thing you see every day. Don’t you want the last thing you see every day to be something you’ve accomplished? For me, making my bed is important because if nothing else goes well for me throughout the day, by the end of that awful day, I know I’ve done at least one thing well. I’ve made my bed.
Making your bed is not the most exciting thing that happens to you every day. No one is going to appreciate your effort in making your own bed. In fact, no one else will even notice or care if it is made or not. But you do it anyway because it’s the little things that matter. Great leaders don’t do things because it’s exciting, to be appreciated or to get noticed. Great leaders are everywhere, getting things done and making things happen. They are often doing the things that no one wants to do and no one notices. Great leaders know that it’s the little things that matter. If someone cannot be tasked with doing the little things well, how can that person be responsible for the bigger things?
The most difficult part about making your bed
When I say I make my bed every morning, I don’t mean it is hotel quality (my bed looks nothing like the picture below). Far from it. Every morning, I flick the doona across the bed and I’m done. I don’t smooth out the wrinkles on the bed sheet (there’s not much smoothing out anyway, because it’s a fitted sheet) and I don’t have to rearrange the pillows (because there’s not that many to arrange).
(On a side note, I’ve never figured out why there are so many pillows on hotel beds when we really only have one head and so should practically only need one pillow. Perhaps being a minimalist might explain my confusion.)
So it really doesn’t take much time for a child – or anyone, actually – to make their own bed. The most difficult part about making the bed isn’t the time it takes to make the bed. The most difficult part is having the discipline to make it every morning.
If great leaders can find time to make their own beds, we can find time to make our own bed. I’m no longer a busy person. Busy is a choice. Great leaders make their own beds. Every morning.