Weekly Thoughts


Green Eggs and Ham

Here is something that caught our eye this week:

Limitations can be a blessing 

Many look at limitations as excuses for why something cannot be done.  We simply don’t have enough time, money, talent, space, {insert reason here}, to achieve a certain outcome.  For example, a reasonable person might think it impossible (or implausible) an author could write a best seller using only 50 words.

However, a guy named Theodor Geisel did just that, using the following words: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.

Geisel, or as our readers may know him, Dr. Suess, initially wrote The Cat in the Hat using only words that were approved by educators for books to teach children to read (he used 236 of the 348 approved words).  Following the success of The Cat in the Hat, Geisel’s publisher bet him $50 he couldn’t replicate his success using only 50 words from the approved list.

Geisel accepted the bet, but it wasn’t clear at the time he would win the $50.  He reportedly agonized over the book as the 50-word limitation seemed impossible to overcome.  Brian Jay Jones, Suess’s biographer, provides some more insight:

“He ends up putting maps up on the wall of his vocabulary words, and he has flow charts — it’s a maths problem for him part of the time… So it’s no wonder that the ultimate plot of this book is about convincing someone to do something they didn’t really want to do. Seuss had a really hard time with this book.” 

In the end, the limitation caused brilliance.  First published in 1960, the book has sold more than 8 million copies, appeared in several television adaptations, and is one of the best selling children’s books of all time.

Operating small businesses during COVID, we have certainly faced our fair share of limitations.  Our companies have endured labor shortages, new regulations, and volatility in demand.  We are proud that our companies have adjusted their operations to achieve things that seemed impossible only a year ago.  We look forward to continuing to view limitations as opportunities, rather than barriers, and when faced with adversity, to remind ourselves: You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you may, I say!

Have a great week,

Your Chenmark Team

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