Tortoise vs. Hare. Who Wins? Think Again.

Tortoise and the Hare

If you read The Compound Effect (hope so!) you know I am a fan of the story of the tortoise and the hare and the lesson it teaches about how hardworking, consistent and steady-paced people (or reptiles) will eventually overtake the fast, talented, experienced but complacent people (or mammals).

Someone recently shared with me an adaptation of the story that makes a poignant leadership point.

It goes like this…

After getting his hare butt kicked by the tortoise so many times, the hare finally wised up and realized it was because he was being overconfident, unfocused and inconsistent (maybe he read The Compound Effect; hey it’s possible!).

Newly enlightened he decided to make some changes and challenged the tortoise to a rematch. The tortoise accepted his challenge.

This time, the hare ran with all his might and didn’t stop, relentlessly and persistently until he crossed the finish line. This time the hare won!

The moral of the story? If you think focus and consistency is amazing when applied to the slow and steady, imagine what’s possible if applied to the fast and talented.

But the story doesn’t end here…

This time, it was the tortoise that did the soul searching and he

realized that if the

hare didn’t stop, there is no way he could beat him…. unless! He thought.

He decided on a different course and he challenged the hare to another rematch. The newly emboldened hare, of course, agreed.

With the lessons learnt from his previous failure and his new disciplines in mind, the hare kept on running once the race started and didn’t stop until the route led him to the bank of a river. He was taken by surprise and he did not know what to do, since he could not swim. There were no bridges in sight and no one to ask for directions. As he racked his brain, thinking of ways to cross the river, the tortoise strolled slowly along, 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 of your core competency.

But that’s not the rest of the story…  

With the hare and the tortoise spending so much time together racing, they became rather good friends. They also developed a mutual respect for one another as they realized that they are both different and they have different strengths. They decided to race again, but this time, as a team.

As the race started, the hare carried the tortoise and they sped to the riverbank. 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 both of them could never achieve if they were to do it alone. They also 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 where someone else does well.

Teamwork is mainly about situational leadership, letting the person with the relevant core competency for a situation take leadership. And being supportive team members is necessary for a team to advance.

There are more lessons on teamwork to be learned from this story…

Note that 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, but was not doing as well as he wished.

Imagine how long it will take the hare to learn how to swim! Or for the tortoise to learn to run fast. In this day and age when the environment changes at lightning speed, we have to learn to work with people who have strengths in areas that we do not.

It is the same in business, if we can collaborate with people who are experts in areas that we are not familiar with, we will realize that our market and opportunities suddenly becomes bigger.

Please share this story using the buttons below and offer your comments below as well.

P.S. Speaking of the impact The Compound Effect can have on your ability to WIN any race you choose to run, watch this video sent to me by a superstar team of high-achieving women and how they are making Big MO happen in their businesses and their lives. Very inspiring!

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17 responses to “Tortoise vs. Hare. Who Wins? Think Again.”

  1. This was a great adaptation of a classic story, no doubt. It reminded me of what a mentor once said to me about a business venture: making money is a team sport. Of course, as the story here illustrated success is a team sport.

    One thing that I had to laugh about, regarding the story was the water crossing. The tortoise is a land animal… Turtles, on the other hand swim.


  2. Darren,
    Love the story – reminds me of the TRUE story of the Flying Tigers.
    The Flying Tigers was the name of the American Volunteer Group who supported the Chinese Air Force. These men, under the leadership of Claire Lee Chennault, flew Curtiss P-40’s – planes that were arguably inferior to the Japanese fighters that they were charged with taking on.

    Chennault carefully studied the capabilities of the enemy – he had access to captured and translated Japanese training manuals.

    He knew that the Zeros could dogfight and turn far better than the P-40s. He instructed his men to “hit and run, then dive” leveraging the speed, firepower and ruggedness of the P-40 over the Zero.

    Because Chennault knew his opponent well, he could pick the fight that best fit his strengths, and the successes of the AVG are part of history.

    Know yourself!
    Know your opponent!
    Pick your battles well!

    All the best,

  3. Hi darren. Awesome story must say. It inspires me to work consistently,makes strategies wisely,to know plus-minus of my competitors,to build relationship with great people and no matter what happens- Never ever give up. Thanks:)

  4. Hi Darren, I enjoyed the post, you offer some great words of wisdom. I also listened to the audio program this week in “Living Your Best Year Ever.” I can’t wait to dive into the book and the worksheets. I really like your point about “becoming” before “doing.” That is a unique way to look at things. Have a great weekend!

  5. We want the candy bar story! We want the candy bar story! We want the candy bar story! We want the candy bar story!

    Lol. Great story on the tortoise and the hare though. Just one small question, I want to know who the hare and the tortoise were running/competing against when they “collaboed”?

  6. Great story

    I always wondered how things would play out if they just raced again!

    On a slightly unrelated note, I was reading your Sept 5th email entitled “Crushing the Candy Bar Contest” and clicked on the link to “read more” and it doesn’t link to the rest of that story, it just gets you to this page. Googling it also brought me here. Darren can you provide the link?

  7. Very great, it shows that we should never give up despite of any failure. Because sometimes failure is the first step towards success. Darren, I really appreciate that great inspiring short story.

  8. You’re absolutely right. if we can collaborate with people who are experts in areas that we are not familiar with, we will realize that our market and opportunities suddenly becomes bigger.

    I love the adaptation of the story of the tortoise and the hare. Team work is essential for lasting success.

    Thanks for sharing, Darren!

  9. Great new adaptation of this classic story. It is so true though. I am a firm believer that when you team up with people or join a group of people where you can share ideas and skills the sky is the limit. One can go it alone and be successful but when you team up amazing things will happen.

  10. Darren,

    I couldn’t stop chuckling to myself at the brilliant reinvention of this classic story.
    your point was well presented and if I may say its a work of genius.

    Good luck

  11. Great metaphor and story Darren, just what I needed to add some more insight to my journey and goals. Have a great day and I look forward to your next installment of these great concepts. To your continued success….another avid reader.

  12. Darren great story! I work with a group of men who have a shared vision and goals. Even though we struggle we can rely upon and lean on each others strengths. We can utilize each one of our unique skills and abilities to help our businesses be successful. Thanks again.

  13. Excellent story Darren.

    I can relate to the story through my 35 year marriage with my teenage sweetheart, Deb.

    Many times I race ahead like the Hare as an entrepreneur, working non-stop and my wife as the Tortoise keeps me grounded with important things like health, family, art and nature.

    Individually my wife and I are strong but as a team, we’re unstoppable…

    Best Regards,
    Barry Schlouch

  14. the tortoise will win because it will live 100 years or more while a hare can only live 4-5 years… its not a sprint .. its a marathon

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