Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tortoise and Hare - A closure.



It has been a year since I last updated an article.

Let me start 2017 citing a closure to an old fable that endlessly confounded me!

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“Something does not add up…” the king Sher Khan sipped his coffee, he was totally perplexed. A tortoise had beaten a hare at a running race - again.

“You know”, king said to his minister “I was a young cub when this race happened first. I hardly knew as to what a hare was at the time. Must be an easy prey I thought – it was beaten by a tortoise at a running race after all. My impression changed completely when I tried hunting one. Those things can run I tell you…”

“Yeah, slow and steady wins the race – that is the lesson”, said the minister. “Yeah yeah" said the king clearly unimpressed. "Please get me an appointment with the Elephant. I need some counsel”.


“Generations have used this story to extol the virtues of the tortoise – the steady one”, said the wise old Elephant, “and criticise the hare – the lazy one. Every time we take the old lesson of ‘slow & steady’, and judge the hare as lazy.

We never think as to why such a skilled runner loses to a slow tortoise? No one before you has sought to understand. I am happy that you are not ready to brand him as a lazy under performer.”

“What is your guidance”?

“Every animal is not made for every race. Get his strengths assessed, if you need to unravel the truth.”


The King instructed his minister to speak to the Hare and assess his strengths. Though sceptical initially, he nevertheless implemented the suggestions. The result of the changes astonished him! A month down the line, he went back to the Elephant.

“It turns out, the hare is not a slouch. His biggest strength is Competitiveness. We realised that the tortoise race failed to inspire him. He needed a worthy opponent – someone faster than him. He needed a real challenge!

We have been training him for sprint races with other hares and faster animals. His performance has improved by leaps and bounds. In him, we have a potential sprinting champion” beamed the king.

“So what the moral of the story, dear king?”.


“The moral is: not slow and steady, but playing to your strengths wins the race!”


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