Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tortoise and the Hare

No, it's not the story you know and love so well. That story is so 1990's. The Internet has changed everything. Now the Hare and Tortoise try to virtually compete by playing with their Wii...lame.

However, there is a new story and it begins like this:

The Tortoise and the Hare were to have a race to see who would win. Everyone knew that the Hare was by far the better athlete but the Tortoise, just like back in the day, insisted that he could compete. So off they went to Badgers to get a referee, set out the course and then began preparations for race day.

Tortoise began with some stretching and merely continued on to practice his racing right on the actual course.

The Hare, he worked on a few things. He got a watch that he could download the course details. It took him a while to figure it out and in the middle of dealing with the software he had to go to work because a new project was due. Coming home he began a series of running pilates, they were apparently good for preventing injury, and then he went back to work on the watch. Hare had worked out that his entire program and all the details would help him beat the Tortoise. He signed up for the gym, aquacise, spinning but everything was coming at him and he couldn't keep to his tight schedule.

The Tortoise just kept plugging away with his practice. Inch by inch, day by day. Same course, same style. Not pretty just consistent. Probably wrong but something was getting done.

Hare then took on some new Swiss ball exercises and needed to research how to use the apparatus properly. Again he spent time on the Internet researching the appropriate sites and exercises. The damn watch still didn't work but he was sure his heart rate was going up...going up because of his frustration. Between work, research and the family their was little or no time at the end of the day to actually work out. Hare was managing his time well and getting a lot done but there was just so much that went into the preparation for a huge race. Hare reflected that this was how he felt whenever he started something big, whether it was planning the family vacation and all the things they would do, a race like this one, or doing a house renovation. There was always so much to do.

Well the short story finishes like this:
Race day came and went. Tortoise won easily. It wasn't due to his excessive speed or fitness either. Actually Tortoise won the race by default because Hare became so stressed out that he merely dropped out due to anxiety. He is now on meds. Poor Hare.

Focus
The moral of the story is really that new age tactics to get us all better at multi-tasking are a complete crock. The countless courses and management styles that preach multi-tasking are solely missing the point. We are mentally busy enough. Focus is the key. Hare was probably fine with all the things he picked up, like the watch and pilates, but his inability to do one thing at a time, like Tortoise, merely confused and confounded him. We all have these moments in our lives. Time management is key but the ability to block out all other things and focus 100% of your effort in one direction is probably one of the unsung success secrets. Truly trying to avoid life getting in the way of life is where real success can come from.

Too many of us stop just before the finish line. We work hard at a task, get it going and then drop it because something else comes into our conscious. Pick your task for the day, break down all the chores that it will take and be relentless with finishing it. If you can do three jobs in one day then great, but if you are unsure start with one and actually finish it. the sense of accomplishment far outweighs the multi-taskers who are stressed out without anything being finished.

One thing done well is a lot better than a whole bunch of cool things not done at all. Dreamers beware. You can't do everything. Just ask Hare.

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