I recently re-read the tale of the tortoise and the hare, and it made a big impact on me. You probably know the story, but just in case you haven’t read it recently, let me recap it for you.
There are two main characters in the story: the tortoise and the hare. As you might expect, the tortoise is really slow, and the hare is really fast. The hare brags about his speed to the other animals, and the tortoise gets so tired of the hare’s bragging that he challenges the hare to a race. All the animals in the forest gather to watch the race. I like to think that all the animals are picking sides and placing their bets.
At the start of the race, the hare darts quickly ahead, and builds a huge lead over the tortoise. Seeing that he is so far ahead, the hare decides to take a nap. The tortoise plods along slowly but surely, never stopping.
When the hare wakes up, he sees that the tortoise has almost reached the finish line! The hare sprints ahead, trying to catch up, but it is too late. The tortoise wins.
I connected with this story today, because a lot of times in my life, I want to achieve my goals right now. Patience is a struggle for me. I get frustrated that I haven’t figured everything out yet.
But I can learn something from the tortoise. Often in life, we get what we want through small improvements, day after day.
I remember talking with my Crossfit coach after an especially tough workout. I asked him if there was anything I could do differently right now to get better right now. He shook his head slowly and said that improvement takes time. He encouraged me to be patient, and look for the 1% improvement every day.
Research has found that to become an expert in any field, it takes about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. That ends up being about 10 years of committed work. That’s a long time!
But that’s what it takes to be great at something. It takes consistent time and effort, day after day after day.
The hare doesn’t have what it takes to do that. The hare gets tired and quits along the way. The hare doesn’t have the determination or the commitment. That’s why when it comes to the race of life, it’s important to be the tortoise.
Discussion: What is one area of your life you are working on improving? What could you shift in your attitude in order to be more like the tortoise? Try focusing on the small improvement, day after day, and see what happens.