A Parable on Mastery

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A scan of the book Aunt Louisa’s Oft Told Tales. Published in the 1870s

Some teaching stories contain timeless, hidden wisdom for those sharp enough to discern it. One such story was told by Aesop (620 To 564 BCE). It is called “The Tortoise and the Hare.”

A Hare was once boasting of his speed before the other animals. “I have never yet been beaten,” said he, “when I put forth my full speed. I challenge any one here to race with me.”
The Tortoise said quietly, “I accept your challenge.”
“That is a good joke,” said the Hare; “I could dance round you all the way.”
“Keep your boasting till you’ve beaten,” answered the Tortoise. “Shall we race?”
So a course was fixed and a start was made. The Hare darted almost out of sight at once, but soon stopped and, to show his contempt for the Tortoise, lay down to have a nap. The Tortoise plodded on and plodded on, and when the Hare awoke from his nap, he saw the Tortoise just near the winning-post and could not run up in time to save the race. Then said the Tortoise,”Plodding wins the race.” Aesop (1867) Aesop’s Fables  by Rev. Geo. Fyler Townsend, London: George Routledge and Sons.

Moral of the Story: “The secret of success is constancy of purpose.” — Benjamin Disraeli

Skill Builders Act Like the Tortoise Not the Hare

What most of us fail to realize is that the Hare exhibits a pattern many of us also have. One of the strategic blunders made by many is they get out of college or high school and they stop building skills. They don’t even enter the race.

Others act like the Hare, racing to get a degree, perhaps going to a seminar (but only if our employer pays for it), and once in a great while take a class. Then we become complacent and fall asleep for months and even years. 

We need to be act like turtle and less like the Hare. To master skills one has to work at it day in, day out – that’s what it takes to master complex skills. You have to stay at it and never, never stop. 

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”Charles Darwin


Leadership Skill Development