The Eternal Journey

The Eternal Journey

The Secret of Success - The story of the Hare and the Tortoise Retold.


 

This is a story of the modern times and hence, I'd not start it with a typical 'once upon a time'. This is a story of high importance and even more relevance to the present generation. I came across this mail recently from one of my friends, and was really impressed by the way the story was drafted. So, with all due credits to the original creator of the story, I'd like to narrate it here in my own style.

Well, there was a very intelligent hare (rather it thought so), and a humble and a modest tortoise in a small jungle on the outskirts of a village. They once had an argument about who was faster. Finally, they decided to settle it with a race and determine who was faster. They agreed upon a route too. The day finally arrived. The moment the shot fired, the hare sprang ahead briskly. After a while, he realized that he was far ahead of the tortoise.

"Poor fellow, can't catch up with me even if I take a nap" thought the hare. So, it decided to rest. He sat under a tree and immediately fell asleep. The tortoise plodded on and finally overtook him and finished the race, emerging victorious. The hare, meanwhile got up and saw that the tortoise was nowhere. So, it ran ahead only to find the tortoise being cheered by its mates.

Moral of the story:
Slow and Steady wins the race.


 

This is probably one of the first stories which all of us heard since our childhood. However, the current version doesn't end here. The hare returned home disappointed. He tried to evaluate himself on his loss. He knew that the tortoise was no match for him despite winning the race. On further introspection, he realized that it was he who was responsible for his loss. He became too relaxed mid-way and hence, lost. So, he went to the tortoise immediately and requested him to have the same race again. This time, he ran continuously, without any breaks in between, and hence, won by several miles.

Moral of the story:
Fast and Consistent always beats the Slow and Steady.

Learning: In the current day business scenario, if there are two people one who is fast and consistent, and the other who is slow and steady, it is always better to pick the first one. He can easily finish tasks, still be reliable, and can also climb the success ladder fast.

    

The story still goes on. The tortoise was now disappointed. It knew that it was not competent enough to win over the hare. So, it wanted a different format of the race, and hence, requested the hare to have another race, however, in a specified course. The hare agreed. They started off. The hare, learning from its past lessons, decided to keep its consistency and hence, ran continuously. Finally, he came across a river and had a dead-end. The finishing line was a couple of miles on the other side of the river. The tortoise, meanwhile, was slow in its own style. It walked slowly and swam across the river to finish the race.

Moral of the story:
First, identify your core competency, and change the playing field to suit to your core competency.

Learning: This is something very important in every organization. Say, if you are good at analysis, ensure that your analytical skills are presented at the forefront. If you are good at presentation skills, make sure that you end up making brilliant presentations to the top management. Similarly, whatever is your core competency, change the situation/create a situation to suit to it and play your game and gain competitive advantage. Working to your strengths will not only get you noticed, but also will create opportunities for growth and advancement.


 

The story still goes on. The hare and the tortoise by now, have become very good friends. So, they did some math individually and came to a winning strategy. The hare was sure that it could win and the tortoise was sure that it could perform better. So, they discussed and decided to run as a team this time. The race started. The hare carried the tortoise on its back and ran till the river. Then the tortoise carried the hare on its back and swam across the river. Then the hare again carried the tortoise and ran to the finishing line.

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 and someone else does well.

Learning: Teamwork is mainly about situational leadership, letting the person with the relevant core competency for a situation take leadership.


 


 

There are also other learnings that could be learnt from this. Neither of the two gave up after failures. In fact, they decided to work harder the next time after a failure and saw success. When they reached their respective peaks in terms of their efforts, they changed their strategies. In this regard, I'd like to redefine the age-old maxim "Failures are the stepping stones to success". I'd rather say that "Failures are just not the stepping stones to success. The individual's capability to learn from the past failures and imbibe that learning into his future efforts, end up as the stepping stones to success."


 

It also has another important lesson. When we stop competing against a rival and instead start competing against the situation, we perform far better.


 

If we look at a business scenario, when Roberto Goizueta took over as CEO of Coca-Cola in the 1980s, he was faced with intense competition from Pepsi that was eating into Coke's growth. His executives were Pepsi-focused and intent on increasing market share 0.1 per cent a time. Goizueta decided to stop competing against Pepsi and instead compete against the situation of 0.1 per cent growth. He asked his executives what was the average fluid intake of an American per day? The answer was 14 ounces. What was Coke's share of that? Two ounces. Goizueta said Coke needed a larger share of that market.


 

The competition wasn't Pepsi. It was the water, tea, coffee, milk and fruit juices that went into the remaining 12 ounces. The public should reach for a Coke whenever they felt like drinking something. To this end, Coke put up vending machines at every street corner. Sales took a quantum jump and Pepsi has never quite caught up since.


 

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About Uday Sankar Yerramilli