It’s the Little Things
Here is something that caught our eye this week:
Simple doesn’t mean easy
We’ve written previously about Admiral William McRaven’s popular 2014 University of Texas at Austin Commencement address, which argued that “if you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” He goes on to say that if you begin your day accomplishing one small task to perfection, you will be encouraged to go on to accomplish another task well, and then another, and then another, so on and so forth. By the end of the day, you’ll probably have accomplished a lot. McRaven goes on to say, “if you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”
We heard a variation of this sentiment echoed in a recent TB12 podcast with Mat Fraser, five-time Crossfit champion. From the podcast:
“I had a coach sit me down, and basically said, you’re not special. Like, everybody is training as hard as you. Everybody is doing squat cycles, everybody is doing rowing intervals, everybody is pushing themselves as hard as you in the gym. At first I was kind of taken aback by that – well, no, this is why I’m better, because I go harder in the gym. And he was like, no, everybody does. Where you can gain the benefit is outside of the gym. Dialing in your sleep schedule, your diet, your mobility, your recovery, all these other things where you can get 1% better on…. At first, I was shrugging my shoulders, like, I’ll do the song and dance, I don’t believe in it but I’ll do it. And then you go to one competition and you think, oh, I got lucky, wow because I was doing this I was a little more prepared…. You’re always just thinking I got lucky, I got lucky, I got lucky. Well, after five years and competing multiple times a year, am I getting lucky all of this time? Or is this because I’m doing all of these little extra things.“
Fraser provides an insightful anecdote. In the 2020 Crossfit Games, certain athletes complained about rolling their ankles following a trail run. Fraser and his female counterpart (and training partner), Tia Clair Toomey, both twisted their ankles too, but it didn’t impact their performance. Fraser posits, is that because they got lucky, or because they were doing ankle stabilization drills for the entire year? We think you know the answer.
All of this is particularly interesting because Fraser’s personal mantra is Hard Work Pays Off (#HWPO). Given this, it’s easy for people to think his mantra refers to crushing himself in the gym (which he does). However, we think the mantra refers to the hard work of consistently doing the little stuff—inside and outside the gym—well, a process he describes as “simple, but not easy.”
In our world of small business, the details matter. How you are accruing insurance payments matters. Clean uniforms and trucks matter. Showing up on time matters. None of these things are all that complicated. As Fraser outlined, simple does not necessarily mean easy. Like in sports, success in small business is the sum of tremendous amounts of small decisions made well, every day. After all, if you can’t operate a small business right, you will never operate a big business right.
Have a great week,
Your Chenmark Team