There once was a speedy hare who bragged about how fast he could
Tired of hearing him boast, Slow and Steady, the tortoise,
challenged him to a race.
All the animals in the forest gathered to watch.
Hare ran down the road for a while and then and paused to rest.
He looked back at Slow and Steady and cried out, “How do you expect
to win this race when you are walking along at your slow, slow
Hare stretched himself out alongside the road and fell asleep,
thinking, “There is plenty of time to relax.”
Slow and Steady walked and walked.
He never, ever stopped until he came to the finish line.
The animals who were watching cheered so loudly for Tortoise, they
woke up Hare.
Hare stretched and yawned and began to run again, but it was too
Tortoise was over the line.
After that, Hare always reminded himself, “Don’t brag about your
lightning pace, for Slow and Steady won the race!”
There are many lessons one might take from this fable.
* Don’t take needless naps during the big game.
* Avoid foolish overconfidence.
* Your greatest growth may come when your competitors are napping.
* Don’t think, “There is plenty of time to relax” when you have no
reason to know that’s true.
* Don’t try to prove yourself to turtles.
* Races are dumb.
* Don’t be an arrogant asshole.
Lots of possible lessons, yes?
But the ONLY lesson many ittybiz owners seem to take is this one:
Go slowly, or you’ll lose.
We hear this from clients sometimes – verbatim.
“Slow and steady wins the race, right?”
There’s that upward lilt in their voice at the end of their
question that says:
“This is where you’re supposed to agree with me and absolve me of
my every weakness. AESOP SAID IT WAS OKAY! I’m right, right?!
The rabbit didn’t lose because he was fast.
He didn’t lose because he “paused to rest”.
He lost because he took a f***ing nap in the middle of a race.
(And remember, here – he didn’t nap because he was SO exhausted
from running that simply he had to. He napped because he was a smug
The turtle didn’t win because he was steady.
He didn’t win because he was slow.
He won because he didn’t slack off.
“He never, ever stopped until he came to the finish line.”
Let us consider an alternative reality version of the race, sans turtle.
What if the race was between two rabbits?
One was Mr. Braggy Pants and one was a rabbit of equal speed and
similar disposition, except he didn’t take his nap until the race
What if he still ran his fluffy little butt off, but he rested
reasonably instead of excessively?
Would we still say that slow is the only way to go?
Or would we just say, “Easy on the naps, Nitro”?
Consider, for a moment…
What if slow and steady isn’t the only way to win?
Or even the best way?
Or sometimes it’s the best way, but not always?
What if we say we’re being steady, but we’re really just being slow?
Maybe we’re going slowly for a great reason.
We’re overwhelmed and underpaid and our mother just broke her hip.
Alternatively, maybe we’re going slowly because we’re lazy and
We don’t want to give up our Dr. Who marathons.
The reasoning does not affect the consequences.
Playing the “slow and steady” card as a means to mindlessly defend
our choices without seriously considering them can be just as
damaging to your ittybiz – whether you’re doing it because of a
sick parent or because you think David Tennant looks hot in a
Many ittybiz owners are making decisions that will affect the
entire future of their companies based on a sound bite.
“In for a penny, in for a pound” has just as much validity, but I
don’t see many ittybiz owners shouting THAT one from the rooftops.
So go slowly if you want to.
It can be a good way to go.
But it’s probably unwise to base the entire growth strategy of
one’s company on a children’s story one hasn’t heard in forty
years, especially when one is a little fuzzy on the details.
P.S. One more thing?
Slow and Steady was his NAME.
Had Aesop named him “Not An Insufferable Braggart” or “Quiet and
Humble”, the story wouldn’t have changed a bit and we would have
taken a very different lesson.
Thank God he wasn’t named Green and Shellish or we would be living
in a very different world today.
P.P.S. And another thing!
Even if we COULD put aside the foolishness of building a business
based on a sound bite, this particular sound bite is also a logical
“Naomi Dunford wins the race,” does not mean, “The only way to win
any race is to act like Naomi Dunford did in that one.”
Faulty logic, my muffins.