My husband, Mike, is retiring from a satisfying 36-year career with State Farm Insurance this week. As he victoriously crosses the proverbial finish line, I am reminded of the age old tale The Tortoise and the Hare.
You may recall the moral of the story ~ slow and steady wins the race. The classic tale, written by a Greek fabulist and philosopher named Aesop, must hold some timeless universal truths since it has been retold for nearly 3,000 years. Aesop fables rely on the traits and characteristics of animals and natural objects to teach lessons about our very human nature.
That famous tortoise and Mike have a lot in common when it comes to being successful at work and in life. Here are ten lessons we can learn from them.
- Don’t Sweat the Competition ~ The hare in our story was naturally built for superior speed, but the tortoise paid no mind to that. Instead of comparing himself to others, Mike honors and hones his own strengths and encourages others to do the same.
- Stay the Course ~ Halfway through the race, the tortoise had good reason to give up. There are so many disappointments and distractions in life that it’s easy to veer off course. Sometimes change is for the best, but it speaks well of Mike to remain dedicated to the same company his entire career.
- Keep Moving Forward ~ Mike was never on a fast-track to the top, and he would never be described as driven, but he worked steadily and dependably for almost four decades. He doesn’t need more than one hand to count the times he called in sick. Like the tortoise, he dutifully kept moving forward.
- Enjoy the Scenery ~ One of my husband’s favorite movie characters said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller, the tortoise and Mike all know slowing down to enjoy life keeps us from missing it.
- Slow Your Roll ~ You probably know some characters, like the hare, who react quickly and carelessly. Mike is cautious and methodical in his approach to life. He rarely has to regret saying something, doing something, or pressing send. There’s wisdom in being prudent.
- Don’t Burn Out ~ The fabled hare pushed himself like crazy to get ahead but then fell asleep, causing him to lose the race. Mike never let a fast and furious sprint burn him out. He wisely paced himself for the long run.
- Appreciate Your Encouragers ~ The illustrations in a book of Aesop fables depicts a crew of forest animals cheering on the tortoise as he nears the finish line. All of us have cheerleaders. Mike never hesitates to gain encouragement from his squad, and he always shows appreciation for the support.
- Stay Humble ~ The hare’s biggest mistake is over-confidence. We live in a look-at-me world that often encourages us to toot our own horns. Mike doesn’t pat himself on the back or brag about his skills or accomplishments. Like the tortoise, that makes him a likable winner.
- To Thine Own Self Be True ~ Just like the animals in fables, we all have our own God-given traits and personalities. Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly. Mike knows he wasn’t wired to be an energizer bunny and he never tries to be. Like the tortoise, he stays true to himself.
- Slow and Steady Wins the Race ~ As Mike celebrates his retirement with coworkers, friends and family who genuinely like and respect him, he can look back on a successful career that would surely win the approval of a wise old storyteller named Aesop. §