The story of the tortoise and the hare is a great analogy for business growth. One starts off the race fast and carelessly while the other starts the race slowly and steadily. Business growth is yet another area of life where patience and consistency is key.
With a hare-like approach, fast growth may occur, only to be dismantled by unexpected consequences down the road. A tortoise-like approach can be off-putting to motivated, driven entrepreneurs who are ready to grow their business right away, but it’s the only way to achieve lasting growth that won’t cause your business to crumble under its weight.
The Story of the Tortoise and the Hare
The hare, at first, is an overconfident, competitive character with an overwhelming desire to be the first to cross the finish line. So confident is he that he dares to settle down and take a nap while his fellow racer, the tortoise, is slowly but consistently making his way up the trail. Here’s Aesop’s original fable:
The Tortoise and the Hare: Aesop’s Fable
“There once was a speedy hare who bragged about how fast he could run. Tired of hearing him boast, Slow and Steady, the tortoise, challenged him to a race. All the animals in the forest gathered to watch.
Hare ran down the road for a while and then and paused to rest. He looked back at Slow and Steady and cried out, “How do you expect to win this race when you are walking along at your slow, slow pace?” Hare stretched himself out alongside the road and fell asleep, thinking, “There is plenty of time to relax.”
Slow and Steady walked and walked. He never, ever stopped until he came to the finish line. The animals who were watching cheered so loudly for Tortoise, they woke up Hare. Hare stretched and yawned and began to run again, but it was too late. Tortoise was over the line.
After that, Hare always reminded himself, “Don’t brag about your lightning pace, for Slow and Steady won the race!”
A Business Growth Analogy
From the beginning of the story, we see that Hare is pretty conceited. All the animals in the forest are already sick of hearing him boast about his running speed – especially Slow and Steady, the tortoise, who in his turtle-y wisdom, decides to challenge Hare to a race. You’ll know entrepreneurs like the Hare by their words – bragging, making promises they can’t keep, obsessed with growth, losing focus when facing obstacles, avoiding real challenges.
That’s because entrepreneurs like the Hare are stuck in a Fixed mindset as opposed to a Growth mindset. Though they may talk about growth and even experience some growth, it’s not reliable because it’s coming from a mindset that puts the brakes on real progress. Read down the list below and see how the Fixed and Growth mindsets differ.
Side note: The story doesn’t mention this, but it seems as though Slow and Steady could already sense the weakness the Hare had and was setting out to expose it. Otherwise, why would a sluggish tortoise challenge the fastest animal around to a race?
Slow and Steady is operating from a Growth mindset. He embraces challenges (like racing the fastest animal in the forest), when he faces obstacles, he persists, and he views effort as a necessary vehicle to growth. We aren’t given examples of how he would react to criticism or whether he’s inspired by the success of others, but it’s safe to say that Slow and Steady uses the Growth mindset while Hare uses the Fixed mindset.
The final line of the story is perhaps the best: “Don’t brag about your lightning pace, for Slow and Steady won the race!” In this story, Hare’s “lightning pace” is like an entrepreneur’s ability, experience, and knowledge. Ability is very important for entrepreneurs and anyone focusing on growth, but it’s not the only essential ingredient.
Consistency – being able to take it slow and steady – is the most essential ingredient. In fact, with enough consistency, even someone with lesser abilities than you (Slow and Steady) can “win the race,” or lead a successful business. Hare learned this lesson the hard way.