The Tortoise Mindset


By Mark E. Smith

No matter how many times I’ve read Aesop’s fable, The Tortoise and the Hare, the tortoise always wins. Logically, at some point shouldn’t the hare win? After all, the hare is physically faster.

The answer is, no – not in the fable and not in life. Aesop, a slave in ancient Greece in the 5th century BC, was onto something: Dedication and perseverance always pay off in the end. Think about every aspect of your life, from health to career to relationships to finances – does taking the easy way ever work in the long run?

Never. The University of Wisconsin did a study (one example of many) on how long it takes to get in true physical shape. After six weeks of rigorous training, there were no results seen in the sample group; three months showed progress; but, it wasn’t till one year, then four years that there were significant physiological changes. Everyone wants a quick fix to shed those pounds and have six-pack abs, but there’s no such thing. However, you can absolutely do it if you have a tortoise mentality, where dedication and perseverance will pay off over years.

Want to be a millionaire? Maybe winning the lottery, flipping houses or playing the stock market is the ticket. No, the hare loses again. In the U.S., tortoises get rich. The average millionaire is 57, works over 50 hours per week, has a graduate degree, and is first-generation wealthy. What’s been their number one wealth-building tool? Saving 20% of their monthly take home pay over their career. Put simply, you get rich over decades, not overnight.

Of course, in relationships, the hare must win, right? Love at first sight rules all. Statistically, not so. See, your odds of staying married increase if you date for at least a year before tying the knot, and those who get married around age 30 are much more likely to stay married than those who get married younger. Want the healthiest marriage? Be a tortoise and take things slow and steady.

I live and work in the world of disability experience, where challenges abound for many of us. And, what I’ve learned is that rehabilitation doesn’t stop when released from the hospital; rather, it’s truly just beginning. There are no quick fixes, and some skill sets – from the physical to the emotional to the mental – can take decades to master. Heck, every morning I still work on the coordination needed to tie my shoes and button my pants– after over 30 years of trying. Yet, it’s the tortoise mindset that keeps us striving. If we simply stay dedicated and persevere, we will succeed in one way or form. It can take 20 or 30 years, but success will come.

The examples go on and on, but here’s the point: there’s literally no secret to success. Success isn’t luck of the draw or magic. We need only to look to Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare – a slave’s philosophy from ancient Greece – to know that success is a marathon, not a sprint.


Author: Mark E. Smith

The literary side of the WheelchairJunkie

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