The headlines seem to be littered with people and groups pointing fingers at each other for telling a truth, telling a lie, or not telling enough. So I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and air my own grievances with the phrase,
“Slow and steady wins the race”
We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare. It’s a story I tell my children and my students in order to model the character traits of persistence, humility, and yes – hard work .
We’ve all known our share of “hares”. Those people at the office or play group that seem to effortlessly live life and are so “quick” with their wit, money, looks, or talents that they make everyone else feel like they’re poking along, struggling to make it.
We’ve also known our share of folks who act like a tortoise. They take their time and think before they speak. They see the big picture and are okay waiting for their reward.
Which one are you?
Both have fantastic traits and they have their downfalls.
So here’s my problem with this “tail” (haha, see what I did there? Homophones anyone!? No? Just me – the English nerd? Okay, moving on)…
The truth is – the hares of this world usually win the races. At least the short ones. They win because they are sometimes loud, pushy, and confident. But do they win every race?
I’ve learned to appreciate the tortoise in my life – my husband. Do NOT for a single minute think that he is weak, slow, or clueless. He is my rock, my guide, and I am in awe of who he is as a man and father.
If you haven’t guessed already, I tend to be more like the Hare in this story. And I have to be very careful not to dismiss or overlook the tortoises in my life because they have figured something out that I am still pondering.
They know what race they are running.
I tend to run, all the time, with everything I do. I go all the way. If I’m not careful I won’t stop, look back, or even consider who I might be blowing past and leaving behind. As age as set in my “speed” has slowed and I am so very thankful.
I still love to be challenged, I love feeling the wind from the energy of a team working on a project or the way my intellectual muscles are stretched when I learn a new skill – I LOVE the race of “new”. But here’s the problem – It’s tough for me to feel like I’ve crossed the finish line.
I finish one race and I’m on to the next. I remember it had been a week since my second book had been published and we were driving in the car. I started talking about an idea I had for a center that would serve immigrant families and students while working with local school districts and Universities. He literally pulled the car over, put it in park and with love in his eyes but exhaustion in his voice he said, “I love you, but sometimes it is exhausting being married to you! When will enough be enough?”
He wasn’t scolding me. He was really asking…because he is a tortoise. He sees what really matters and what I’ve accomplished and he appreciates every minute of it. He supports me 100% but he is my compass and my guide when it comes to knowing what I should and shouldn’t put my energy toward.
You see, in my opinion, the “hares” in our society typically DO win the race (and that’s the real rub with this story line). They get the attention and influence decisions, but sometimes I wonder if they are running the RIGHT race.
I guess I’m just coming to a place where I not only appreciate, but I have started to look for the Tortoise on my team, the Tortoise of the group that will help everyone be steady – and MAYBE slow. But sometimes slow is okay.
Do we need to appreciate and think more like the Tortoise in this story, instead of always rewarding the Hares of this world? Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE a kid who wants to just jump in and pour their energy into every idea that comes into their mind. That kind of energy keeps the Tortoise from falling asleep and being left behind.
So can we agree that this story is great, but there might be a bigger lesson waiting for us within it’s plot line?
No matter how we run the race – fast or slow, consistent or scattered – we need to first ask, are we running the right race?
If we are – it becomes a little less important to emphasize who wins. It’s more about how we help each other finish.
So if you’re a hare and your child is a tortoise – slow down and soak in their wisdom and perspective – it’s quite refreshing.
If you’re a tortoise and you’re being driven to the edge of your sanity by a hare in your life – I would challenge you to let them energize you. They have a drive and imagination that will cause you to find color in even the most grey days.
We need each other. This race can be EXHAUSTING! Instead of comparing how the other is running the race, maybe we should just shout a word of encouragement or sit and listen to each other’s journey.
To the tortoises out there: Be patient with the hare in your life. They mean well and they need your still, constant presence to bring them back to earth when their heads are in the clouds. You need their energy and they need your calm.
To the hares out there: Take time to recognize and appreciate the tortoise in your world. They are not trying to hold you back or slow you down. You need their perspective and they need your energy.
Now let’s get out there and run the race the best way we know how. Keep your head up and keep going because if you’re raising the next generation, you’re already in the most important race of all – you’re shaping the future. I’m here for you and I appreciate you. Slow and steady might not win all the races, but maybe we can all start to ensure we are running the RIGHT race.
On your mark, get set….GO!