Tortoise and Rabbit story

My grand mother is an excellent story teller, and i have enjoyed her stories every evening when i was a child. Ours was a joint family and all my brothers and sisters used to sit around her and listen to her mesmerizing stories. Out of her many stories “Tortoise and Rabbit story” grabbed my imagination and would like to share an extended version of it.

Once upon a time a tortoise and a rabbit lived in a small town called Srikakulam, which is situated 100KM away from Visakhaptnam. They are very good friends and they used to play with each other. One day they had an argument about who is more faster. They decided to settle this for a race from Srikakulam to Vijaynagaram. The rabbit shot ahead and ran briskly for some time. Then seeing that he was far ahead of the tortoise, he thought he’d sit under a tree for some time and relax before continuing the race. He sat under the tree and soon fell asleep. The tortoise plodding on overtook him and soon finished the race, emerging as the undisputed champ. The rabbit woke up and realized that he’d lost the race.

The moral- “Slow and steady wins the race”

The story does not end here..

Rabbit realized that he’d lost the race only because he had been overconfident, careless and lax. If he had not taken things for granted, there’s no way the tortoise could have beaten him. So he challenged the tortoise to another race.

The tortoise agreed. This time, the rabbit went all out and ran without stopping from start to finish. He won by several miles.

The moral – “Fast and consistent will always beat the slow and steady. It’s good to be slow and steady; but it’s better to be fast and reliable.”

The story does not end here..

The tortoise did some thinking this time, and realized that there’s no way it can beat the rabbit in a race the way it was currently formatted. It thought for a while, and then challenged the rabbit to another race, but on a slightly different route. Now the Race route is from Srikakulam to Visakhapatnam. The Rabbit agreed. They started off. In keeping with his self-made commitment to be consistently fast, the rabbit took off and ran at top speed until he came to a broad river(Nagavali River). The finishing line was a couple of kilometres on the other side of the river. The rabbit sat there wondering what to do. In the meantime the tortoise trundled along, got into the river, swam to the opposite bank, continued walking and finished the race.

The moral – “First identify your core competency and then change the playing field to suit your core competency.”

The story does not end here..

The rabbit and the tortoise, by this time, had become pretty good friends and they did some thinking together. Both realized that the last race could have been run much better. So they decided to do the last race again, but to run as a team this time. They started off, and this time the rabbit carried the tortoise till the riverbank. There, the tortoise took over and swam across with the rabbit on his back. On the opposite bank, the rabbit again carried the tortoise and they reached the finishing line together. They both felt a greater sense of satisfaction than they’d felt earlier.

The moral – “It’s good to be individually brilliant and to have strong core competencies; but unless you’re able to work in a team and harness each other’s core competencies, you’ll always perform below par because there will always be situations at which you’ll do poorly and someone else does well.”

Teamwork is mainly about situational leadership, letting the person with the relevant core competency for a situation take leadership. Note that neither the rabbit nor the tortoise gave up after failures. The rabbit decided to work harder and put in more effort after his failure. The tortoise changed his strategy because he was already working as hard as he could.” In life, when faced with failure, sometimes it is appropriate to work harder and put in more effort. Sometimes it is appropriate to change strategy and try something different. And sometimes it is appropriate to do both.

The rabbit and the tortoise also learned another vital lesson. When we stop competing against a rival and instead start competing against the situation, we perform far better.