A Happy New Year to you!
We have all heard of the classic Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare. In the fable, the hare was always bragging about how fast he could run. The tortoise tired of his bragging, challenged the hare to a race. The hare laughed but nevertheless accepted the tortoise’s challenge. The forest animals met and mapped out the course. The race begun, and the hare, being such a swift runner, soon left the tortoise far behind. About halfway through the course, it occurred to the hare that he had plenty of time to beat the slow trodden tortoise. So, the hare played in the meadow and after that decided that he could afford to take a nap. “I have plenty of time to beat that tortoise,” the hare thought, and he cuddled up against a tree and dozed.
The tortoise, in the meantime, continued to plod on, albeit, ever so slowly. He never stopped, but took one good step after another. The hare finally woke from his nap. "Time to get going," he thought. And off he went faster than he had ever run before! He dashed as quickly as anyone ever could up to the finish line, where he met the tortoise, who was patiently awaiting his arrival.
The hare could have easily beaten the tortoise in the race, but did not capitalize on his capability. Instead he took things for granted and became complacent. The tortoise, on the other hand, worked on what he had – his focus and determination – and won the race. It is easy to go with the typical moral of the story that “slow and steady wins the race”, but in today’s fast pace world, there is also much to be said for being “fast and consistent”. Were there to be another race, the hare would certainly have learnt from his mistake and make his abilities count. Would the hare win then? Not if the tortoise changes the race to include a river crossing that will favour his natural ability. But that is another story.
Instead, I think the real lesson to be learnt here is to “make it count”. Understand your abilities and grow your potential by learning new abilities; but more importantly, use them well to make a difference for yourself and others. It is not about winning or coming in first, but rather it is about making more effective use of what you have. New opportunities for learning and growing will come and go for all of us in the new year. Like the story of the tortoise and the hare, it is up to us to make these opportunities count.
“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” – William James