Be the Rabbit with Focus

tortoise-hareAlmost everyone loves the story of the tortoise and the hare. It’s a classic.

I hate it!

It’s too limiting.

If everyone thinks of themselves at the tortoise, nothing would get done. Yes, I understand the story’s concept. If you stick with something you’ll win the marathon in the end.

The rabbit has the superpower of speed and that’s great, but like any great strength he lacks passion and focus. This is where I actually love the book.

Yes, I admit. I love the book too!


The book makes the perfect case for making better use of your superpowers. If you love something it doesn’t mean you should actually make a career out of it because it may not be a strength of yours.

As you know I don’t like people who just center on their strengths. They forget about the passion and the focus that it takes do great work.

Too often we think that because we love something that we can turn it into a strength. This is possible, but usually very painful.

You wouldn’t tell a 10th grader with weak math skills to stick with it and try to become an engineer. The same thing goes for a 10th grader who hates math, but is good at. You would tell a 10th grader who has great math skills and is interested in the concepts to try to become an engineer because they have strength and passion to make it happen.

Aesop should have focused on the rabbit’s lack of focus and passion. I know it wouldn’t have made such an inspiring story. Even though it would have been more true to life.

Your perspective

When you look at yourself as the tortoise you are conceding that you don’t have the speed to keep up, but you hope that everyone around you falters. This negative perspective will hold you back. There are plenty of rabbits out there who are passionate and focused. You can’t rely on other people to falter to win the race.

You have to look at yourself as a rabbit. Look at what core superpowers you possess and how you can do work that you are passionate about and gets you in the zone. It’s these powers that will help you create a career that brings happiness and success.

11 thoughts on “Be the Rabbit with Focus”

  1. I’m a bit confused by this post. It seems that throughout it you’re saying one thing and then another. I think there are some great points in the post, but the direction seems to be back and forth.

    For instance, do you love the story or hate it?

    You say that you don’t like people that only focus on their strengths, but then right after that you say we should only promote engineering to students who are both good at and have a passion for math. Isn’t that just focusing on their strengths. I’d say challenge the students who are great at math but may not love it by inspiring them and showing them the amazing things they can accomplish by putting their talents to use. Think outside the box and find a way to reach and motivate them. It may be a huge challenge but that student with weak math skills may really want to be an architect. Why not encourage that and help them become better at what they need to accomplish their dreams? And while we’re at it that math student might have just the right type of mind to understand music in a way that no one has before and compose beautiful symphonies. If we want to make the most of his talents why not push him outside his comfort zone and see what else he can excel at besides the obvious.

    People are remarkable beings and while it’s true that change is hard, change is very possible and sometimes all it takes is some encouragement from someone who believes in you.

    If you love something, you can turn it into a strength. Maybe the fat guy who starts running isn’t ever going to win the NYC Marathon and be considered a running superhero, but I bet the confidence he gains from an improved physique and the fact that he’s accomplishing a goal will give him the strength he needs to accomplish even bigger goals.

    Undersized professional athletes, CEO’s who hated math and business classes, artists who everyone just knew as “the janitor”…all of these people follow their passion and their dreams even though they may not play to their strengths and nothing can replace that. It’s people who challenge themselves to follow their dreams despite not having the prerequisite strengths that change the world and inspire the rest of humanity.

    I also don’t think the tortoise is relying on people to falter to win the race. I think Aesop has simply juxtaposed two very different characters. The tortoise doesn’t give any thought to the rabbit. He just believes in himself and stays focused on completing the goal he has set for himself. I think it’s more about believing in yourself and not worrying about what the competition does rather than hoping for your competitors to falter so you can succeed. Your success does not depend upon someone else losing. In life, unlike in a race we can all win together if we can allow ourselves to accept that paradigm.

    While I saw things a bit differently that you at the conclusion of this post, I appreciate it very much. It’s always good to come across a post that makes you think and inspires you enough to actually reply. Thanks Karl for the inspiration to get my mind working this morning. And I’ll end by noting that while it is good to challenge yourself, it is also very good to be aware of your superpowers and to do something you’re great at. The satisfaction and the confidence you gain from that are quite valuable as well.

  2. Hey Jason,

    I really love and hate the story. It shows me how stories can be improved. You make some valid points about doing work that you are passionate about, but too often we don’t weigh our skills into the equation. We think that passion will win out. In reality we need passion, focus and strengths to succeed.

    I was looking at the book from the perspective of the reader. I often see myself as the turtle. I admit it. I think that if I stay in the race eventually I’ll win because other people will think it’s too hard. This has been a weakness of mine.

    The reality is I’m much smarter and stronger than that turtle. I’m a rabbit that needs to harness his focus, so he can do great work.

  3. Interesting thoughts Karl.
    I love the concept of unearthing super powers to achieve great things. In my experience though this has so much to do with a persons attitude finding a balance of view where capabilities and potential are thought of soberly the right light.

    Personally, neither creature appeals to me…but then we’re only given a choice of two. But you know my earliest thoughts about this story and no doubt the impact of whoever read it to me was that the Hare failed because he thought more of himself than he should. All the capability in the world but an arrogance that made him misjudge and not see the job through.

    If I have to choose…maybe the Hare with Humility. That’s my wish for others as well.

  4. I completely disagree with you. What I get out of this story is something completely different from what you do.

    The hare runs and runs without planning, without commitment… it’s all impulse. He gets tired, bored, and stops.

    The tortoise knows what he can do, how he can do it, and where he is going. It’s not impulse. It’s well-planned execution based on what he knows he can do. He follows through in the end.

    The story is about not being a carefree spaz and taking things through and getting them done.

  5. Hi Nigel, Both creatures have flaws like all of us. It’s how we work around these flaws that really matters. Now if the Hare did have a little humility wouldn’t that have been a huge addition to his personality.

  6. Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy

    Hi NYC, I’m getting a lot of disagreement with this post. I agree with you about your assessment. My only problem is the tortoise might know what he can do, but doesn’t have the skill to race against a committed rabbit.

  7. So wonderfully described! I really like the idea of being a fast rabbit with the passionate focus of a tortoise.

    Thanks for the share!

  8. I agree and disagree with you – it’s not about being the turtle, it’s about having the discipline to do thing consistently.

    If you start running, and run 10 miles the first day, 0 for the next 2, 5 the next day etc, you will never get there.
    It’s about setting a daily achievable goal, that you can get to every day and then push forward from that.

  9. I agree with you about developing the passion and drive to maximize your super powers. Though a mixing a turtle and a rabbit would make sore an interesting mutant

  10. I think I understand what you are trying to say. Basically, if you could have the perseverance of the turtle, with the speed of the rabbit, you would be unstoppable in what you pursue. Of course not all people get to do things that are their absolute strengths, sometimes you are task with thing that you are weak in, and you still have to persevere.

  11. Individuals who are considered geniuses tend to overestimate themselves, much like what happened to the rabbit after underestimating the tortoise. As a tortoise myself (I don’t consider myself at par with gifted people because I always work hard in everything I do), I find it difficult to sympathize with the core logic that rabbits receive the biggest piece of the cake just because of their propensity to perform at a higher level. At the end of the day, the person who has worked the hardest wins regardless of skill or capabilities.

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