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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A modern day fable needs a revisit......

The Hare and the Tortoise
Hands up who wasn’t told this parable as a young ‘un growing up in the big bad world......  The moral of the story being that whilst it’s more exciting to race off with no plan, all confident that life is good - the real winners in life are those that are slow and steady....
We have all used the analogy at some point in life - and tortoises have a pretty well regard spot in our culture as denizens of wisdom (along with their friends, Mr Oliver Wisdom-Lyngate the Owl, Sir Lionel the Lion and Danny the Doplhin - more smart than wise really).
But I have just had a revelation and it’s about time that the Hare got his rightful spot at the head of the race.  With today’s social media driven society making life even quicker still - it’s about time to really take a long hard (and possibly slow ‘tortoise-like’) look at the actual race.

So - Hare vs Tortoise - who wins.
So with the recent Athletic World Championships just finished, let’s look at the relevant factors that will decide the race
1 - Flat out Speed
OK - so Tortoises are actually really slow - and barring the annual Jamaican tortoise race season (where Mr Bolt’s well trained pets show what is possible with some sun drenched carrots and lots of tortoise TLC) - has anyone actually seen a tortoise win any race.  Generally - they are too tired to even race, and just tuck their heads back into their safely protected ‘castle’s and wander off to sleep - maybe to dream of Bolt-like Olympian feats.  Think about it - if you were told long enough that you were a super fast race winning machine - you would dream about winning despite the fact that all the evidence (mainly the pace at which you ambled) pointed to it being a very unlikely outcome.
Hares are actually really fast.  Maybe not the fastest animal out there.  A cheetah is renowned as the fastest land animal - but in a race between a tortoise and a cheetah - the likeliest result is probably a nice tortoise steak - served rare, in an upturned tortoise shell - so probably a good idea the vegetable loving hare was the chosen race ‘victim’ for our famed Timmy the Tortoise.  But hares are fast.  Any time you see a hare running - you can’t help but be impressed by its style and by the energy that it has.  Sleek as a ....  well sleek as a hare - it is lean and it is efficient.
Hare wins
2 - Speed Endurance
Usain Bolt is the fastest man on the planet (despite his twitchy starts) - yet no one would expect him to win the marathon.  LIkewise, our heroic tortoise wins most of the fable-race votes because he is likely to win out in the end.  In athletic terms - he can keep going quicker for longer.
But what do we base this on....??
His build??  He is carrying a lot of gear that has no benefit to his athletic career (his shell is great to hide in when being attacked by ...... say cheetahs - but no good for racing - does it contain a secret motor??  #cheatingtortoise?).
His ‘race smarts’ - back to the wisdom thing we go.  But if the tortoise was so wise - surely he would not be racing with a backpack of rocks??
The hare meanwhile is lithe, lean, full of energy - and if the fields outside my house  when I was growing up are anything to go by - can run and run forever!!!
Hare wins
In fact - when we remember the tale of old - the only reason that the Hare lost was because he got cocky and fell asleep.  Slow and steady had nothing really to do with it - the tortoise did not win, the hare lost it.  Slow and steady will get you nowhere - yet many use it as a way to succeed in business - “coz the tortoise won”.......
We are often told - “don’t take on too much”, “just do one thing, but do it really well” - “slow and steady wins the race”......  Well - we need a new lesson for our kids - as the Hare and the Tortoise has past it’s sell by date...  Nowadays companies, individuals need to work faster than ever, need to take on more and more, need to push themselves to the limit (whilst retaining control) and need to get the maximum out of the resources that they have.
In today’s day and age - when we have a lot more knowledge about our competitors, when resources are stretched and sometimes there is not enough time to prepare as well as maybe we have done in the past (#wasted), too much competition to plod on with a backpack hoping that your competitors are doing to fall asleep - the winner will be the animal/person who is lean, makes best use of whatever assets they have, challenges themselves to be super fast, super energetic....... and of course does not take their eye off the ball.

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