A Hare was making fun of the Tortoise one day for being so slow.
"Do you ever get anywhere?" he asked with a mocking laugh.
"Yes," replied the Tortoise, "and I get there sooner than you think. I'll run you a race and prove it."
And so, the story goes. The great and fast hare with obvious talents, challenged by the much slower tortoise to a race, and loses. The moral: “Slow and steady wins the race.” Interestingly, many of us have grown up hearing this story; know the moral of the story; probably even agree with the moral in the story; but naturally compare success in today’s world to speed. If business were the race, we would assume the hare would win. Why? Technology pushes us to be faster and more automated. Competition demands efficiencies. Marketing shouts, “YOU NEED THIS NOW.”
This year I learned something about myself. “My name is Dave, and I am addicted to speed.” It almost sounds like a drug, doesn’t it? I graduated from college, married my sweetheart, became a Director in a company, bought two new cars, and loaded up on all the new furnishings for my new house all by the age twenty-five. People would tell me I was a success, and I truly believed it. It was my bragging right. The problem was that nothing was ever good enough. I remember setting a goal for myself in my early twenties, “Once I hit a certain threshold in my salary by a specific age, I will be happy.” I also remember hitting that target much sooner than expected, just to find myself wanting more. My focus was distorted.
You probably admit that peace and happiness are more valuable than money and fame, but so many of us spend our energy pursuing money and fame instead. As someone trained to run a race like the hare, I find myself slowing down to converse with people winning the race like the tortoise. Three people (Who have no idea I was watching or listening to them) have taught me a new kind of success.
I had a boss who built a skillset that made her very successful. She was promoted into a new position as Vice President after the company parted ways with her predecessor. As with any change in leadership, questions about the new leader’s abilities naturally rise. Since I was a hare racing to the next glamorous promotion, I found myself challenging her abilities every time a problem surfaced. I could do it better. I would do it differently. I let people know.
Now, I regret it. It is easy to shoot arrows at a target. It is not easy to be the target. Anyone on that team could voice an opinion without effort. The skillset she had built with incredible strength is a phrase I now call Fearless Consistency. She knew there were problems and knew she did not have all the answers. Things could have been done differently, maybe even better. But, she did not quit. She took one step at a time, led a team out of fear and into the future. Problems will always be everywhere. Arrows will fly. Fast resolutions will always be demanded. The tortoise did not grow tired. He just took one step at a time and never quit.
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
Last week, I was meeting with someone about a potential business opportunity. This would be a new venture that I know nothing about. The individual sitting across the table from me, had thirty-plus years of experience doing it. He is no rookie, but he is not someone I know too well yet. I had my doubts.
As we sat at a table drinking coffee and discussing the cool new potential initiatives, all my insecurities in the matter bubbled to the surface. Anything he spoke about, I questioned. I was not capable to do this for many reasons. At one point in the conversation, he, in all his experience doing this, stopped me in my tracks to say something so simple, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
In the famous fable, both the Tortoise and the Hare knew who was faster. After all, turtles are slow without skillsets to win races. But, they did not know what they did not know. Since the tortoise could understand this concept, he was able to take on a challenge most turtles would have passed up.
You Already Matter
In 1981, a movie called Chariots of Fire was released. The story is about two Olympic runners, Harrold Abraham and Eric Liddell. Each of them approaches their passions from different perspectives. During one scene after losing a couple races, Harrold is getting a massage to prepare for his final race. His famous line states, “I will raise my eyes and look down that corridor; 4 feet wide, with 10 lonely seconds to justify my whole existence. But WILL I?” Eric Liddell also has a moment before his race, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. When I run I feel His pleasure.”
I heard a speaker recently simplify both messages. You can either run in order to matter OR you matter already, therefore, you run. Confidence breeds when you already know you matter. And if you already matter, you can be fearlessly consistent. You don’t even have to know all the answers yet.
At Evans Electric and E2Green, we have set some goals for our company that will be a stretch. Not because we justify our existence, but because we love doing what we do. We believe that with our team we can continue to accomplish great challenges. We admit that we don’t know what we don’t know, but we will take one step at a time, do what it takes to find the answers and implement consistent solutions that last for our customers.
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