Are you the proverbial Tortoise or Hare in the modern world?


We’ve grown up on an emotionally healthy diet of fables that’s ingrained with timeless wisdom.

Such as this Aesop’s Fable, The Hare & the Tortoise.

Who hasn’t escaped this gem of a tale? Yet, many of us, including me, have lost the plot like the hare in this modern-day hustle culture. We’re never ever satisfied with what we have, and are constantly losing sleep over the next achievement. Worse still, we overburden our children with our overachievement expectations from them. I hope we can break this unhealthy cycle of intergenerational trauma once and for all.

To my horror, I discovered how one professional man gave his spin on the ‘Tortoise and the Hare’ story. He completely negated the ‘Slow and Steady’ approach, adding that if the rabbit didn’t stop, he’d have easily won the race. So, his moral of the story was to never stop running until you reach your destination.

As recently as yesterday over family dinner, my mother was telling me not to indulge in vacations this year as my daughter was getting into a crucial academic year. How she needed to stay focused and there was no room for such distractions. I was telling my mother how I felt the contrary. How a break would give that much-needed rest, relaxation and a renewed focus just before the next academic year begins. I said, “Remember ma, how we were taught in our primary years that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

My mother-in-law, also a teacher like my mother, smiled at me and recollected how when she said the same thing to her students, she was called by the Principal and questioned about it. The Principal was shocked how my mother-in-law was promoting the idea that all work makes students dull.

Somehow, somewhere, we’ve glorified the hustle culture and it begins from school and translates to the workplace.

A balance between the tortoise and hare

The good thing about both the tortoise and hare was that they were focused and determined to reach their goals. Specifically, we can learn consistency from the tortoise. How going slow but staying steady on course will help you eventually win the race of life. Keep moving like the tortoise.

We can learn to take a break or rest from the hare, which is equally important, no matter how crucial a task is. Life is not a competition and we should stop making it as one.

Adopting a middle-path approach of the tortoise’s consistency and the hare’s restful breaks is the key to sustainable success and a meaningful life.

So, what does that look like in everyday life?

A middle-path approach in your daily life would be to break up work into smaller bits. Think of a rabbit chipping away small bits delightedly from a big carrot. And working on them slowly and steadily with focus like the tortoise who keeps moving at an unrushed pace.

Please take a break like the hare which could be a power nap of 20-30 minutes during the day. Or an easy stroll after meals, meditating for a few minutes, reading a book of your choice, sipping on your chai or coffee, doing some simple stretches to move and relax your body, or simply picking up the phone and calling your loved ones to hear their voice that’ll brighten your day. I like how they’ve now come up with the term ‘glimmers’ to add magic to your day. It’s important to schedule glimmers in your day-to-day life.

Then, go back to deep work. You could choose to work fast like the hare or slow like the tortoise, depending on your personality and complexity and urgency of work.

It’s important not to go overboard like the hare and burn yourself out too soon. Which is why prioritising restful breaks and sleep is vital.

It’s also important not to have an “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” ethos, like the tortoise. Who wants to miss out on the pleasures of life like smelling the roses on the pathway!

I understand the fable is about a race or competition. Taking such liberties during a competition is not practical. Of course, I’m not literally asking you to stop and take a nap during an actual competition, race, or exam. However, you can still apply the middle-ground approach in your preparation for any competition for sure and not during it, per se.

Make it grand

From the big picture, we need to ditch the idea of looking at life through a competitive lens. That’s where the trouble starts because the hamster wheel won’t stop rolling ever until we fall off it.

Looking at life like a competition also breeds unnecessary toxic relationships. It’s why I love the new alternative version of “The Tortoise and Hare” fable. The tortoise and hare decide to team up and build upon each other’s strengths to win the competition. The emphasis is on collaboration over competition. This is a way healthier approach to living and loving. It respects one another’s talents, strengths, and builds a sense of community and wellbeing.

Life is not a competition. It’s your real-life movie. So make it grand, sweet and count.

Image by StephenWheeler from Pixabay

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Tina Sequeira
Tina Sequeira is a marketer and moonlighting writer. She is passionate about tech, creativity, and social justice—dabbling in and writing about the same.


  1. Hi Tina, this post really resonated with me. But unfortunately, today’s world is rife with competition and holier than thou attitude. Sweet alternative fable though 🙂

    • It’s so good to see you here, Lavanya! I know right! Somehow I can’t or rather don’t want to fit in this whole hustle, competitive. ‘holier than thou’ mode. Life is meant to be savoured and relished, not rushed and frazzled. So glad you liked the post. 🙂

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