We Don’t Deserve This
One of our favorite poems is The Summer Day by Mary Oliver. We won’t quote the whole thing here, but the last four lines are memorable:
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
So what does a random poem about a grasshopper have to do with Chenmark? Small business often feels anything but wild and precious. Rather, it can break into monotony very quickly. Waking up early and staying up late to respond to emails. Traveling in the middle last row of the plane. Reconciling credits and debits. Making sure AP and AR are being managed properly. Managing unexpected compensation requests. Figuring out how not to be screwed by insurance (haven’t quite gotten there yet…).
Our partnership group realized early on that by choosing to go into the world of small business together, we were choosing to have the privilege to share some incredibly special moments together. We were also choosing to spend mundane and aggravating moments together.
In light of this, how can we remember to make the most of those wild and precious moments we have together?
One of our partners sent this note to his team in November 2021:
“Yellowstone Season 4 premiered recently. It is one of a few TV shows that I follow. If you are unfamiliar, the IMDB summary of the show is: “A ranching family in Montana faces off against others encroaching on their land.” That sentence doesn’t do the show justice, but it is also not the point of this e-mail. All you need to know is that the ranch, and cowboys running the ranch, are a focal point of the show.
The lead ranch hand is a man named Rip who was rescued by the owner of the ranch as a wayward homeless and parent-less child about 10 years old. He grew up working on the ranch and has since grown into the owner’s right-hand man. In the most recent episode, Rip’s wife rescues a similarly homeless and parentless child and brings him to the ranch in hopes Rip will do for this child what the ranch owner did for him.
After some initial pushback, Rip agrees and sets the kid to work as the lowest-level ranch hand. His only job is to get to the barn before anyone else every day and muck the stalls. As dusk approaches on the kid’s first day of work, Rip and the kid share a brief scene that resonated with me:
Rip (to the kid): “I’m going to teach you a trick so that you don’t blow this opportunity. Don’t think that you deserve it. You don’t deserve it. And you never will.”
Kid (to Rip): “You don’t deserve it?”
Rip (to the kid): “No one deserves it.”
In the midst of our mostly unglamorous life in small business, we believe that if we can remember the following two things, we’ll probably be alright:
First, that our time together is wild and precious.
Second, that we are entitled to nothing.
Often the words “we don’t deserve this” are shrouded by feelings of victimhood. For us, it’s the opposite – a reminder to be eternally thankful for all aspects of our chosen path, as none of us deserve to be here. We authentically appreciate the adventure that is working together, day in and day out, with our chosen team. By never allowing ourselves to believe we inherently deserve something, we can truly cherish it, appreciate it, and – most importantly – we will work hard at it for the remainder of our one wild and precious life.
Have a great week,
Your Chenmark Team