Aesop’s fables are famous for their concluding moral. “Slow and Steady wins the race,” a message that has been passed down through generations and interpreted differently by various cultures and traditions.
However, in today’s world, we have the opportunity to delve deeper and analyse these old sayings, offering our own perspectives and theories. While some analyses can lead to a greater understanding and promote inclusivity and equity, others may focus on trivial details or be overdone.
Nevertheless, I am ready to do my rip analysis of this story and put forth my theory in my style based on my experiences and look out for thoughts from others. No offence to fable lovers.
First of all – Why Aesop’s Fables ?
Fables are concise narratives that frequently feature non-human characters, typically animals, with the intention of imparting a moral or lesson.
They utilise symbolism and metaphor to communicate their message. The characters in fables can represent various human traits or attributes, while the occurrences in the story can symbolise more extensive social or cultural concerns.
Their overall depth and intricacy are the reasons why fables have stood the test of time and remain relevant across diverse cultures and eras. They can provide insights and lessons that apply to numerous circumstances, making them a valuable resource for learning and personal growth.
The Tortoise And The Hare – Interpretations
The ORIGINAL : The story tells of a competition between a tortoise, who was slow but consistent, and a hare, who was fast but overconfident. The hare’s decision to take a nap during the race ultimately led to his defeat.
Moral: “Slow and steady wins the race”
It may be difficult for a four-year-old to understand as they may question why someone would sleep on a racetrack or how being slow could make you win. However, the underlying message is about the virtues of diligence, discipline, patience, and perseverance that helped the tortoise compensate for his limited physical abilities, lack of skills, and speed.
The SEQUEL: The hare is really ashamed of his previous behaviour and calls upon the tortoise for a rematch.
He concludes that he lost because of several things: over-confidence, carelessness, complacency, distraction and being lax.Hare then challenges Tortoise to another race. This time, Hare runs relentlessly without stopping from start to finish and wins.
Moral: “Being slow and steady is good, but being fast, skilful and consistent is better”.
Part Three : The tale doesn’t end there. The tortoise realises there is no way he can beat Hare with his superior form. He racks his brains proposes a rematch on a different route.
Hare takes off and runs consistently at top speed, until he comes to a river between him and the finishing line. While Hare wonders what to do, Tortoise labours on, swims to the opposite bank, continues trundling and finishes the race victoriously.
Moral: Identify your core competency; then change the playing field to suit your core competency
Best version: The timeless classic doesn’t end there. By now, Hare and Tortoise have become good friends. They have developed mutual respect for each other and recognise each other’s differences and strengths.
Realising the last race could have been run much better, both decide to race again, but this time as a team. The race starts with Hare carrying Tortoise to the riverbank. Then, Tortoise takes over and ferries Hare across the river. They cross the finishing line together in record time, which they could not have achieved individually.
The real moral of the story? “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 strength, you’ll always perform below par because there will be skills which you lack but are possessed by someone else.”
My perspective on this timeless tale
Before I start, Let me list the outcome of all the above interpretations.
- After their respective failures both hare and tortoise, self reflected on how they could perform better. They did not give up to their weakness and emerge triumphant.
- There is no control on what your competitor will do, there is no fable if the hare did not sleep in the original story. Sometimes you may not be able to identify your opponents strength or weakness . However, Concentrating on maximising your strength to the best of your abilities is something at our choice.
- There is a very thin line difference between arrogance and confidence. Sometimes confident person is mis read as arrogant too. I would say commit time to accomplish goals rather than boasting about it.
- Collaboration as a team is undoubtedly the most effective approach. Only individuals who possess a certain level of maturity can recognise their weaknesses and seek out someone with complementary strengths to complete the puzzle.
The story imparts several valuable lessons based on various interpretations. But the question that arises in my mind is: “Why must there be a race in the first place? Why should we feel the need to compete with others?”
While some may argue that competition brings out the best in us and motivates the winner, I cannot agree with that perspective. In my opinion, the concept of a race is merely an illusion. Each individual is unique in their own way, and there is no common metric that can be used to make accurate comparisons. There’s also a famous adage, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
To be more precise, one’s physical appearance is often the initial characteristic that catches our attention. Nature has bestowed with Unique ID for each one of us (an extremely unique look with a very strong duplication check) even before we got a name, a social security or Aadhar to identify ourself .
When the most prominent physical identification is unique for each person and not comparable, the underlying characteristics, which includes everyones strength and weakness is highly unique and personal for each one us. Finding a comparison in the midst of so much diversity is either an illusion or just not fair.
To put it simply, we all have our own battles to fight with different sets of skills and abilities, and thus it’s not fair nor possible to compete with each other. I find it hard to believe that someone is only appreciated and praised because they reached the finish line/goal post first. In my opinion, the journey towards the goal is more valuable than the destination itself.
We are all in the voyage to reach our destination. Everyone’s journey comes to an end at some point or reaching the goal post. And how we reach there is distinctive.
While this fable is remarkable, I believe it planted the idea of competing against someone, especially a weaker one than us. At schools, scores and competitions, and at work, promotions and KPIs, we have been constantly pushed to race against someone or something throughout our lives. Collaboration is often discussed a lot, but the true spirit of teamwork is still lacking because many of us continue to hold onto competitive thoughts that have been ingrained in us for years.
Life is often seen as a competition, but it’s not a race against others. The true journey lies in competing with yourself and unravelling your unrealised potential.
This is what Jay Z meant when he said, “I look in the mirror, my only opponent.”
So, the moral of my blog is: “You should only compete with one person: yourself”
What are your thoughts on this?