Most of us had heard about the race between the tortoise and the hare. The hare shot ahead and ran briskly for some time. Then seeing that he was far ahead of the tortoise, he thought he’d relax a bit before continuing the race. He sat under the tree and soon fell asleep. The tortoise plodding on overtook him and soon finished the race, emerging as the undisputed champ. The hare woke up and realized that he’d lost the race.
Slow and steady always win the race.
But do you know there is a sequel to the story? The hare was disappointed at losing the race and he did a Root Cause Analysis. 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.
Fast and consistent will always beat the slow and steady.
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 route. The hare agreed. They started off. Like in his last race, 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.
First identify your core competency and then change the playing field to suit your core competency.
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 before.
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.
There are more lessons to be learnt from the tortoise and the hare:
- Both of them did not give up after failures. The hare decided to work harder and the tortoise changed his strategy.
- 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 do both.
- When they stop competing against each other and instead start competing against the situation, they perform far better.