Weekly Thoughts


Sugar Cookies

Here is something that caught our eye this week:

More nuggets from McRaven

We recently took some time to re-read Admiral William McRaven’s 2017 Best-Seller, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change your Life… And Maybe the World.  An easy read, the book goes into more detail on the themes outlined in McRaven’s iconic 2014 University of Texas at Austin Commencement Address.

In February we referenced McRaven with regards to the importance of paying attention to the little things.  Our recent reading reminded us of another important concept that has wide-ranging applicability to our world of small business: The Sugar Cookie.

Every day in BUD/S training, instructors inspect candidates to ensure uniforms are pressed and shoes and buckles are polished to perfection.  If a deficiency was uncovered, the candidate would have to:

“run, fully clothed into the surf zone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand. The effect was known as a ‘sugar cookie.’ You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day — cold, wet and sandy.”

Now, it’s one thing to be punished if you got caught cutting corners with inspection.  The catch, however, is that at some point instructors would always find something wrong with your uniform.  And sometimes instructors could find something wrong that….. well, wasn’t actually wrong.  From McCraven:

“There were many a student who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. . . Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.”

We’ve never been in the military, but we have gone to top schools.  In that realm, we have noticed a proclivity among many high achievers to have anxiety about achieving perfection—and incredible fragility when things don’t go their way.

As the SEAL instructors understood, life isn’t fair.  Sometimes you crush yourself to do everything perfectly…and you still end up being a sugar cookie.  Yes, it’s not fair.  But that’s life.

In the world of small business, many unfair things happen.  Competitors pay employees cash under the table making wages uncompetitive.  Sellers misrepresent their businesses in diligence.  Nonsensical regulations come out of nowhere and impact your operations.  Top employees leave at the height of the busy season.  Customers berate you on social media because of mistakes they themselves made.  In our world, winners cannot succumb to the distraction of anger about fairness when things do not go their way.  Rather, in the words of General McCraven, “If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.”

Have a great week,

Your Chenmark Team

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