Are You A Tortoise Or a Hare?

One of my favourite quotes sits on my desktop on my computer and it says this:

“Those who are blessed with the most talent don’t necessarily outperform everyone else. It’s the people with follow through who excel!”

I think I got this from one of Brian Tracy’s books or tapes and it has been something I like to remind myself of on a daily basis.

Whenever I read it, I am always reminded of the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.

If you were never told this story as a child, then let me re-cap.

Mr Hare, running around as he does at full speed challenges Mr Tortoise to a race. Mr Hare accelerates off as you would expect but on the way gets distracted.

Realising he has got speed on his side, he lets the distraction consume his attention and ends up losing the race because Mr Tortoise keeps plodding on – following through on his commitment to finish the race.

Isn’t it amazing how life mirrors fable.

I have seen it time and time again where well intentioned people rush off with excited enthusiasm on a new project but often lose their way, only to be overtaken by the slow methodical plodder who takes it one step at a time but is consistent with their actions.

Of course lessons like this are best learnt by experience rather than being discovered on a blog because I am sure you can appreciate the sense and logic of keeping on keeping on.

But knowing it and realising it are completely different and sometimes you only really realise these things when they hit you square in the face.

Brian Tracy talks about the key success characteristic of successful executives as being that of single handling – take one task and keep doing it until it gets done without deviating from it.

In essence that is what the quote at the top of this post is all about.

But it is also the difference between being the hare or being the tortoise in that famous children’s fable.

Too often these days I see people rushing around being busy being busy but never really making any significant progress.

These are the professional hares.

They get distracted by multiple projects, find themselves at the beck and call of multiple professional (and personal) stimuli (namely e mail, phone calls, personal interruptions and the plethora of web based distractions).

Like mice (or hares) on a treadmill, there is lots of activity but very little progress.

But then let’s look at an alternative – the professional tortoise.

Deeply embedded in one task at one time until it is complete, these are the people who always cross the finish line before starting the next race.

They shut out all other distractions, focus on the matter in hand and get it done BEFORE moving on to the next project.

It takes discipline and in a busy environment personal and professional courage but let me tell you that progress will rely on the tortoises of the world.