We were recently introduced to the concept of “yarak” as it relates to falconry in the least likely of places: a fictional novel about capital allocation. While we have no exposure whatsoever to the sport of falconry, the insight resonated. For background, in falconry, the falconer attempts to train a hawk to hunt. This is a very deliberate, painstaking, and disciplined process that requires daily training for at least seven years. When the training is done properly, before a hunt, the hawk is “in yarak”, which means it has been well trained and is in peak hunting condition both physically and mentally. While this condition is ideal, it’s not easy. From falconryadvice.com:
“Yarak in falconry means keeping the bird hungry enough but not starving for the bird to be at heightened predatory instincts. This makes the raptor highly alert and ready to hunt. This is a technique often used in falconry, and the falconers are able to keep these raptors at their peak to hunt. In order to make a raptor go into a state of yarak, you need to provide it with the right balance of food and hunger. You don’t want to starve the bird, but you also want to keep it hungry enough that it is constantly armed with predatory instincts. This can be difficult to do, but with some practice, you should be able to get your raptor into the correct state.”
A well-fed bird sees no reason to hunt. A starved bird is weak and its performance suffers accordingly. Proper yarak is not an agitated or desperate bird; it’s a bird that is eager to hunt. It’s not uncomfortable; it’s just laser-focused on hunting.
Yarak is also an ideal state for a company to operate. Too many resources and the company becomes complacent. Too few and the team becomes desperate. In both situations, the company’s performance inevitably deteriorates. In yarak, the balance between available resources and constraints enables the team to maintain its focus. This point was reiterated in the book, The Rebel Allocator:
“You create an artificial constraint, a hunger, this state of yarak in yourself. Yarak sparks a creativity that can only be unlocked when your back is against the wall. You become the bird that has to hunt.”
Our reading this week was a great reminder that it’s OK to cut budgets and say no to proposals. In the yarak framework, constraints are valuable. Conversely, it’s also important to invest properly in the business so the team is not starved for resources. The balance is easy to describe but surprisingly difficult to achieve. Just like falconers, we are happy to work every day, over the course of many years, to achieve yarak ourselves.
Have a great week,
Your Chenmark Team