Most people would agree, you learn more from failure than from success.
It’s the sort of phrase that is trotted out fairly regularly as a mantra for self-improvement and business growth.
Which is why I’m fascinated that if you ask the same people what the message is from the Aesop’s Fable about the race between the Hare and the Tortoise, most will say something along the lines of ‘slow and steady wins the race’. The story is embedded in our cultural psyche as a tale about persistence, about getting there in the end.
Hmmm… sounds like the lesson from the winner’s viewpoint. In other words, we’ve been very good at drawing the lessons from the tortoise’s success rather than from the hare’s failure.
You see, if you take that as the lesson, slow and steady wins the race, the next time you, Mr Tortoise, are in a race with a hare you’re going to get whooped. Because the hare has learned the true message from the story…
● Even if you’re the fastest, or the best, there’s no time for complacency.
● Even when the winning line is in sight, don’t start celebrating and rewarding yourself too early.
● Don’t go to sleep on the job.
● Don’t eat carrots – they make you sleepy.
(OK, I made the last one up!)
I’ve always been more interested in the hare’s side of the story. Especially since I once made the very same mistake in business, and it cost me very dear. My mum, who used to read the story to me when I was about 4, would have thrown her hands up in horror.
I’ve now learned.
How about you?