Delivering High-End Consultancy and Corporate Training in both English & Arabic

The Tortoise and the Hare

29 Sep 2014

By Lama Makarem –

Irrelevant of time and place, some stories would always ultimately hold true and relevant. They just become “timeless”. A classic example is over 2,500 years old!… Who hasn’t heard of the Tortoise and the Hare fable, whether in its original 7th B.C. century Greek version by Aesop’s, or whether in its 17th century French version by La Fontaine?

While many may be familiar with these two versions, I’m not sure how many are familiar with its latest 21st century version? Unfortunately the author of this latest version is unknown. However, I’m still to take your permission Mr. or Mrs. unknown author to reproduce your latest version with some tweaks and adaptations.

As you may know it, the original fable talks about a hare who ridicules a slow-moving tortoise and is challenged by the tortoise to a race. The hare soon overtakes the tortoise and, confident of winning, takes a nap midway through the course. When the hare awakes though, he finds that his competitor, crawling slowly but steadily, has arrived before him to win the race!

The moral of the story? Of course, there are multiple messages here of right attitude, perseverance, time management including “Putting First Things First”, prioritizing, and the price of procrastination.

Newest version of the fable has a Part 2, a Part 3, and a Part 4 to expand lessons learned onto teamwork, synergy, opportunities, challenges, and personal differences.

Part 2: The hare realized that during the race with the tortoise he was over confident, complacent and took things for granted. He decided and insisted to have a re-match with her. The tortoise accepted his challenge. This time, the hare ran with all his might and didn’t stop until he crossed the Finish Line. The moral of the story? “Fast and consistent will always beat the slow and steady”. Fine, everybody is happy, but the story still doesn’t end here.

Part 3: This time, it was the tortoise that did the soul searching and wanted to take the competition further. She thought hard about a strategy and decided on a different course. So, she challenged the hare to another re-match with her own rules. The hare, being competitive as well, agreed. She realized that unless, like in Part One, the hare stops during the race, there is no way she would beat him.

So…Fast and steady, 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 was no one to ask for directions, there were no bridges or any tools in sight to help him. As he was struggling and 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”. Or, in other words, Socrates: “Know Thy Self” and Sun Tzu’s Art of War: “Know your Enemy”…other timeless teachings.

BUT, the story still hasn’t ended.

Part 4: The best competition is the one that makes you humbly proud of your competitor and want to partner with him/her. Hence, with the hare and the tortoise spending so much time together racing and challenging each other, they have become rather good friends; they have developed mutual respect and admiration for one another as they realized that they are both different and have different but equally important strengths. They decided to race again, but this time, as a team.

As the race started, the hare carried the tortoise on its back and they sped to the river bank. There, they switched positions and the tortoise carried 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 can never achieve if they were to do it each on their own. The moral of the story? Embrace challenge, move form Independence to Interdependence, create synergy by capitalizing on strengths, make1+1=3 or more! Look for people to work with, who have different skills from yours, but make sure they have similar values.

However, and unfortunately, it’s very often that people do misinterpret and misjudge personal differences!

If we’re different, it doesn’t mean we’re enemies. We are just different. Let’s capitalize on what complements our weaknesses with others’ strengths. And I’m sure everyone; yes EVERYONE possesses a set of those, no matter how weak we assume they are. In our daily life, we are a tortoise at times and a hare at another.

At last, no matter how old this hare and this tortoise get, their fable will always be timelessly inspiring!

By Lama Makarem

J&R Business Consultancy

Scroll to Top