Volume - 4 : Issue - 4

Published : Oct. - Dec. 2005

Group : Think About It

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Work Smarter to Perform Better

by Pramod Batra

Once upon a time, a tortoise and a hare had an argument about who was faster. They decided to settle the argument with a race. They agreed on a route and set off. The hare shot ahead and ran briskly for some time. Then seeing that he was far ahead of the tortoise, he fell asleep under a tree. The tortoise overtook the hare and soon finished the race, emerging as winner. The hare woke up and realized that he had lost the race.
Moral 1: Slow and steady wins the race.

The hare was disappointed at losing the race and he did some thinking. He realised that he had lost the race only because he had been over-confident, careless and lazy. If he had not taken things for granted, the tortoise could not have beaten him. So he challenged the tortoise to another race. The tortoise agreed. This time, the hare went all out and ran without stopping from start to finish. He won by several miles.

Moral 2: 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 consistent. The tortoise did some thinking this time, and realized that there’s no way he could beat the hare in a race the way it was currently formatted. He thought for a while and then challenged the hare to another race, but on a slightly different route. The hare agreed. They started off, in keeping with his self-made commitment to be consistently fast, the hare took off and ran at top speed until he came to a river. The finishing line was a couple of kilometers on the other side of the river. The hare sat there wondering what to do. In the meantime, the tortoise got into the river, swam to the opposite bank, continued walking and finished the race.

Moral 3: First, identify your core competency and then change the playing field to suit your core competency. Working on the basis of you strengths will not only get you noticed, but will also create opportunities for growth and advancement.

The story continues. The hare and the tortoise, by this time, had become good friends and they did some thinking together. They decided to run the race again, but this time, as a team. They started off, and this time, the hare carried the tortoise till the riverbank. Then, the tortoise took over and swam across with the hare on his back. On the opposite bank, the hare again carried the tortoise and they reached the finishing line together. They both felt a greater sense of happiness, satisfaction and success.

Moral 4: It is good to be individually motivated 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 in which you’ll do poorly and someone else will do well.

Teamwork is mainly about situational leadership, letting the person with the relevant core competency in a situation take the leadership. Note that neither the hare nor the tortoise gave up after failure. Failure is an event; it is never permanent.

Moral 5: The tortoise changed his strategy because he was already working as hard as he could. In life, when faced with a failure, sometimes it is appropriate to work harder and to put in more effort by working smarter. Sometimes, you just have to change strategy and try something different. And sometimes it is appropriate to do both.

Moral 6: When we stop competing against a rival and, instead, start competing against the situation, we perform far better.

(From ‘Be a Winner Everytime’ by the author.)