Subject: Inspirational Moment - the hare and tortoise story (new
We all are aware of the Hare and the Tortoise story, we've all grown up
with. But then recently, someone told me a more interesting version of
this story. It continues. The hare was disappointed at losing the race
and he did some soul-searching. He realized that he'd lost the race only
because he had been overconfident, careless and lax. If he had not taken
things for granted, there's no way the tortoise could have beaten him.
So he challenged the tortoise to another race. The tortoise agreed.
This time, the hare went all out and ran without stopping from start to
finish. He won by several miles. The moral of the story? Fast and
consistent will always beat the slow and steady. If you have two people
in your organization, one slow, methodical and reliable, and the other
fast and still reliable at what he does, the fast and reliable chap will
consistently climb the organizational ladder faster than the slow,
It's good to be slow and steady; but it's better to be fast and
reliable. But the story doesn't end here. The tortoise did some thinking
this time, and realized that there's no way he can beat the hare in a
race the way it was currently formatted. He thought for a while, and
then challenged the hare to another race, but on a slightly different
The hare agreed. They started off. In keeping with his self-made
commitment to be consistently fast, the hare took off and ran at top
speed until he came to a broad river. The finishing line was a couple of
kilometers on the other side of the river.
The hare sat there wondering what to do. In the meantime the tortoise
trundled along, got into the river, swam to the opposite bank, continued
walking and finished the race.
The moral of the story? First identify your core competency and then
change the playing field to suit your core competency.
In an organization, if you are a good speaker, make sure you create
opportunities to give presentations that enable the senior management
to notice you.
If your strength is analysis, make sure you do some sort of research,
make a report and send it upstairs. Working to your strengths will not
only get you noticed, but will also create opportunities for growth and
advancement. The story still hasn't ended.
The hare and the tortoise, by this time, had become pretty good friends
and they did some thinking together. Both realized that the last race
could have been run much better. So they decided to do the last race
again, but to run as a team this time. They started off, and this time
the hare carried the tortoise till the riverbank. There, the tortoise
took over and swam across with the hare on his back. On the opposite
bank, the hare again carried the tortoise and they reached the finishing
line together. They both felt a greater sense of satisfaction than
they'd felt earlier.
The moral of the story? It's good to be individually brilliant and to
have strong core competencies; but unless you're able to work in a team
and harness each other's core competencies, you'll always perform below
par because there will always be situations at which you'll do poorly
and someone else does well. Teamwork is mainly about situational
leadership, letting the person with the relevant core competency for a
situation take leadership.
There are more lessons to be learnt from this story. Note that neither
the hare nor the tortoise gave up after failures. The hare decided to
work harder and put in more effort after his failure. The tortoise
changed his strategy because he was already working as hard as he could.
In life, when faced with failure, sometimes it is appropriate to work
harder and put in more effort. Sometimes it is appropriate to change
strategy and try something different. And sometimes it is appropriate to
The hare and the tortoise also learnt another vital lesson. When we
stop competing against a rival and instead start competing against the
situation, we perform far better.
When Roberto Goizueta took over as CEO of Coca-Cola in the 1980s, he was
faced with intense competition from Pepsi that was eating into Coke's
growth. His executives were Pepsi-focussed and intent on increasing
market share 0.1 per cent a time. Goizueta decided to stop competing
against Pepsi and instead compete against the situation of 0.1 per cent
growth. He asked his executives what was the average fluid intake of an
American per day? The answer was 14 ounces. What was Coke's share of
that? Two ounces. Goizueta said Coke needed a larger share of that
market. The competition wasn't Pepsi. It was the water, tea, coffee,
milk and fruit juices that went into the remaining 12 ounces. The public
should reach for a Coke whenever they felt like drinking something. To
this end, Coke put up vending machines at every street corner. Sales
took a quantum jump and Pepsi has never quite caught up since.
To sum up, the story of the hare and tortoise teaches us many things.
Chief among them are that fast and consistent will always beat slow and
steady; work to your competencies; pooling resources and working as a
team will always beat individual performers; never give up when faced
with failure; and finally,
compete against the situation - not against a rival.