the tortoise and the hare, the 21st century version

Absolute classics…

Aesop’s fables were written over 2000 years ago and they are still very much alive today.

How have they managed to survive the test of time? Because they address our nature as human beings.

In spite of all the technological advancements that have been made in just the past 60 years, one thing is constant, us. That’s why history has a funny habit of repeating itself, as you probably well know.

Our hopes and dreams haven’t changed at all; we still yearn for a good live, success, achievement, raising a family and so on.

As children we are all taught the story of the tortoise and the hare teaching us some very valuable lessons:

  • Arrogance can be our downfall
  • Talent isn’t everything
  • Perseverance wins in the end
  • Hard work pays off
  • Slow and steady does win the race
  • Consistency is powerful
  • Complacency can ruin you.

I thought I knew everything there was to know about arguably Aesop’s most famous fable but the other day while I was scouring the Internet I came across an updated version of the story which made me think.

I felt it was worth sharing because in spite of the explosion of information out there, we can learn something new every day.

It went something like this:

After the race was finished the hare demanded a rematch.

He analyzed his folly and came to the conclusion that his overconfidence and lax attitude had led to his demise so he came prepared.

He asked a few friends to help him practice and when the day of the rematch came, he was ready.

This time, the hare ran with all his might, stopping for nothing and with his focus on the goal, the result was never in doubt – the hare won by a mile.

The moral of this story?

When you apply focus and passion to talent you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

But the story doesn’t end here…

This time, it was the tortoise that did the soul searching and he realized that unless the hare messed up there was no chance of him winning…unless…

He decided on a different course and he challenged the hare to another rematch. The hare coming off his victory happily agreed.

With the lessons learnt from his earlier failure, the hare took off and sped down the course as soon as the starting pistol stopping for nothing…until he came to the bank of a river that is. He was taken by surprise and he did not know what to do as he could not swim. There were no bridges in sight and no one to ask for help. He racked his brain, thinking of ways to cross the river, when he saw the tortoise strolling along. The tortoise reached the river bank, dived into the river, swam across it and ultimately, finished the race before the hare.

The moral of the story?

Know your strengths and take on your competitors in areas you know you have an advantage over.

But wait…there’s more.

From their battles they became quite good friends, developing a mutual respect for one another as they realized they were both different and had very different skills.

They decided to race again, but this time, as a team.

This time, the hare carried the tortoise and they sped to the river bank. There, they switched positions and the tortoise ferried the hare across the river. On the opposite bank, the hare again carried the tortoise and they crossed the finishing line together.

They completed the race in a record time that neither of them could have achieve if they were to do it alone.

The moral of the story?

It’s good to be individually brilliant but unless you’re able to work in a team and harness each other’s strengths, you’ll never be able to achieve the same results as you could together. There are times when each of us would do well to seek out competent advice or assistance, especially in areas in which we’re weak.

There are more lessons on teamwork to be learned from this updated version.

  • Neither of them gave up in spite of losing.
  • Hard work does pay off (as in the hare’s victory)
  • Strategy is powerful (as in the tortoise’s second victory)
  • You don’t have to learn new skills (the hare simply came up with a solution to his problem in the form of his new found friend)

Today the world is changing at breakneck speed and it is critical that we know how to work with others and are able to harness the talents of those around us to achieve the best possible results. No one person alone is able to keep up with all the change that is going on around us.

Competition brings out the best in us, both on the track and in business, but today we live in a world of cooperation – something many companies would benefit from.

Powerhouses such as Sony and Kodak used to be the leaders of their industry but Sony is struggling in the face of overseas competition while Kodak went bankrupt.

Adaptation, cooperation and creativity are the key to success in today’s world, just ask Apple.

The tortoise and the hare may be over 2000 years old but its message rings true today as it did back then. Add on the lessons contained in the 21st version of the story and we’ll all be better prepared to handle business today.

Adrian Shepherd

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