The toirtoise and the hare: Is fast always best?

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toirtoise
A 19th-century illustration of La Fontaine's Fables by Jean Grandville
toirtise and hare
“The Tortoise and the Hare”, from an edition of Aesop’s Fables illustrated by Arthur Rackham, 1912 (Wikipedia

Aesop’s fable, about a race between a tortoise and a hare, in which the tortoise wins because the hare, confident of his speed, naps on the route, has led to its share of moral mythology. Do plodders, who carry on, and on, and on, ultimately win, or do you really need to be lazy to fail to use your inborn talent to take the lead?

These concepts intrigue me, as I review some personal marketing and life successes and failures, and interesting trends. Someone I know well (and envy now), is moving forward in accomplishments beyond my previous levels of expectation even though earlier, I shot out to a seemingly strong lead. I’ve faltered on several key metrics. To my credit, I’ve dusted myself off and persevered, and in the process widened my scope and abilities — but the scars of unnecessary failures because of lack of preparation, organization or overconfidence still remain in the history — and have made the road ahead more challenging than it would have needed to be if I had done things properly in the first place.

In some aspects, I took the lead, then sat back. In other activities, I rushed to complete a project, but didn’t get it right. It isn’t a pretty picture.

This doesn’t mean that there have been some wonderful tortoise-like perseverance successes.

My best (and most intriguing) success was overcoming personality challenges to a enjoy a great personal life (if that is defined as having a great career balanced with  a loving family). Here, however, I’m aware that native talent still is a vital part of the story. Yes, I struggled socially and functionally, especially in the early years, but Internet archives of my earliest student newspaper writing reveals that something was “there” from the start — the ability to quickly grasp issues and then compose them into worthy articles with some writing flair — in other words, the classic requirements for a competent newspaper writer/journalist.

I take these thoughts into account in reviewing Matt Handal’s latest posting, where he describes how just getting 10 per cent better at something important can make a truly big difference in your marketing success, and you can learn that 10 per cent from readily available sources, and implement the solution with some genuine, but reasonable, effort.

Tortoise or hare, these are the rules:

  • We need something basic, some real underlying talent, to succeed. It is foolish to bang ourselves against the wall hoping for success where there isn’t any native ability (though we may need to achieve functionality in skills allied to our main goal, where we don’t need to be so good to be great.)
  • A little improvement can go a long way — and usually, the “little improvement” doesn’t require exceptional effort (though it requires some).  The low hanging fruit is always there, if we look in front of our noses.

(And the one that I need to learn to implement better):

  • There’s no excuse for carelessness along the way. Sure, we can recover from slip-ups, but often these can be avoided with some thoughtful review and practice.
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