Lessons From The Tortoise and the Hare (Remember Who Wins!)

A chic dress never goes out fashion, your mum’s roast never changes (why should it!) and a good story is timeless.

Let’s consider the fable, the Tortoise and the Hare, attributed to Aesop, the Ancient Greek storyteller renowned for his many moral fables.

Written around two and a half millenniums ago, there are truths in this story which are still worthy of consideration in our world today.

You can read the story in full here if you like but if you aren’t familiar with it, then please accept my ‘spoiler alert’ now!

Image source – http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/Tortoise_and_hare_rackham.jpg

The 2014 Version:

There’s a tortoise – slow, carrying a heavy weight, rides more with the snails than the sparrows when it comes to speed.

And then there’s the hare – cheetahs are more his style when it comes to how he rolls and he’s used to being the fastest animal around.

Mr. Hare is not afraid to boast about his strengths and loves to let his slow moving friend know it, too.

Then one day, the tortoise responds to his faster friend’s pride.

Basically, the tortoise advises him that even he is not infallible and he should remember that. He accepts the hare’s challenge for a “race”, something which the hare likely thought of a piece of cake.

“I’ve got this in the bag!” He laughed, bragging on his Facebook wall of his impending success.

The competition came and the starting gun blew.

The tortoise slowly waddled his way upon the course while the hare, rolling his eyes at the slow pace of his competition, took a little siesta.

He woke up, looked around and saw the tortoise still in his direct gaze. He was slowly slugging his way on the course, undeterred by the length of it.

The hare took some time to get himself some breakfast, order a coffee, check the headlines when all of a sudden he felt tired.

The hot sun and big meal made him sleepy, and besides the tortoise was only just at the half way point of the race.

The hare slept deeply while the tortoise silently inched along. The little tortoise didn’t stop but persisted at his goal.

Meanwhile the overconfident hare still slept. Perhaps forgot to set his alarm. Or slept through it. Or didn’t think he needed one.

Whatever happened – it happened! – and the hare woke up with a start.

He’d slept through most of the day and he spotted the tortoise only moments away from the finish line.

Quickly did the hare sprint to the finish line, his mouth dry from the hot sun and his heart racing with the first feelings of panic but he wasn’t quick enough.

As the hare bounded his way to the end, the tortoise stubbornly inched on as he had been doing the whole day and claimed the victory first.

Bewildered and with his proud ego burst, the hare looked at his winner -an opponent he had gravelly misjudged – and sunk low in defeat.

The tortoise smiled graciously and explained that his approach of “slow and steady” wins a race.

I don’t think the hare updated his Facebook status that night.

With this in mind, let’s look at some things we can learn from this ancient fable:

  • Victory comes to those who persist
  • Overconfidence can catch up with us and leave us vulnerable. And we’re even more vulnerable in this state than we can recognise because we’re so overconfident!
  • Bragging and pride does not usually amount to anything good.
  • Persistence is key
  • Small good habits add up. Similarly, small bad habits add up. Here’s an interesting face: three hours spent on Facebook a day averages to 45 full day a year!
  • Comparing yourself to other people is not wise. The hare did that and ended up in a bad way!
  • Don’t race (the hare should not have instigated this match) but if you must race, then mirror the tenacity and persistence of the tortoise.
  • If pride comes before a fall (the hare) then humility paves the way to success (the tortoise.)

This story gives hope to anyone who doesn’t instantly succeed at something straight away.  It illustrates the idea that “success is a few good choices repeated every day.”

It also highlights the fact that when we compare ourselves to others, this often reflects back a distorted reality.

The hare compared himself to the tortoise and unwisely deducted that he was in a better position to the finish line. Had he simply skated through to the finish line, then he could have rewarded himself with some breakfast and a rest.

Copyright to Anna Kosmanovski

P.S. And if you enjoy watching ‘Vintage Disney’ offerings, then here’s a cute Disney version of the tale!

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