Slow and steady wins the race?

Slow and steady wins the race?

By Rajesh Setty on Fri 07 Oct 2005, 6:47 AM – 10 Comments

For years we have heard the story of “Tortoise and the Hare

For those who missed, here is one version of it:

One day a tortoise and a hare had an argument. The hare was bragging about how fast he could run. The tortoise challenged the hare and long story short – they both decided to have a race and decide the winner.

The race began and of course, the hare ran fast and was ahead of the tortoise. Midway, the hare stopped and looked back and realized that the tortoise was very far and was walking slowly. He decided to rest for a while and took a short nap.

Meanwhile, the tortoise did not stop and walked and walked and went past the sleeping hare. Very soon he was near the finishing line. The hare woke up and realized that the tortoise had gone past him. He ran as fast as he could but alas, the tortoise had crossed the finish line.

See, slow and steady wins the race.

There is no challenge here. The conclusion was based on one single assumption in the story that the hare will sleep before it reaches the finish line. Really, what are the chances that the hare will sleep before he hits the finish line? 1 in 1000. So, based on a such a slim chance, you conclude that “slow and steady wins the race?”

Stories can mis-lead us and take us in the wrong direction if we are not careful. If you really want to conclude “slow and steady wins the race”, please go and find something else other than the above story to

based your conclusions on.

My $.02: This story

has run its course. When everyone around you is “fast and steady” and you are “slow”, this story or the conclusion won’t help. You need to change!


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10 Comments so far, Add Yours

Anonymous  on October 9th, 2005


I must disagree with your .02 with the Tortoise and the Hare. I think you are taking the context of the story too literal. If the odds are 1 in 1000, according to you that the hare will sleep before he crosses the finish line then what are the odds that two animals such as a hare and a tortoise would have the intelligence of starting such a race in the first place? I think this story is a great children’s tale that if you snooze, you lose or that if you brag about winning and you lose…something along those lines…or that if you have a competitive lead and then you get complacent…then you will lose.

Anonymous  on October 9th, 2005

Thanks Chicstar.

My $.02 refers only to the conclusion that is generally made based on the story “slow and steady wins the race”

Of course, the story is fictional and it never happened. So, ideally no conclusions should be made based on the story. The point about stories are that it will make us suspend logic most of the time and if you reach conclusions based on the stories, you need to have other evidence to support them.

With the changing times, my belief is that “you can’t be slow and steady” if people around you are fast and steady.

The reason I have trouble with this story is that imagine a scenario where the hare did not sleep and it actually won the race.. what conclusions would you draw? Would we say that “fast always wins” or “don’t ever compete with someone faster than you” or something on those lines?

Thanks again.

Anonymous  on July 11th, 2007

Hi Rajesh … I believe all of us are in a race that never ends, so tortoise never wins … The moral accordint to me is make right, optimum and timely use of its resources, else anyone can overcome you. The rabbit didnt make best use of its resources so it was overcome by a slow tortoise.

My opinion is the story is still relevant but the moral needs to be tailored to the existing times. Look at the story from the rabbit’s point of view.



Anonymous  on July 17th, 2007

Hi Rajesh,

Conclusions differ from one situation to another. Here tortoise has it’s limitation, it cannot run. So still it challenged. That means if one person is slow or physically challenged, it doesn’t mean that he cannot compete. There are many physically challenged people who achieved many things in their life. This story encourages for them. Also if one is very slow because of various reason, may be from birth, he can evaluate and take calculated risks in his / her life. Person, who run faster will anyway run faster, but this person must be having some constraints / weakness. This is an opportunity for slow running person. It is very natural, person who does the things faster always think less. Person who does things slower always (most of the intelligent people) think more / faster. It is thinking process which is more important in achieving.

So this story gives very good moral for those are slow by birth / physical challenged.

Recently I attended your seminar organized by HYSEA at hyderabad, got inspired and reading your blogs.

Anonymous  on July 17th, 2007

Jai, thanks for your inputs

Ronad, thank you for stopping by. Glad to know that we met at the HYSEA event.

Both of you seem to find a good angle to the story and are happy with it. So, first I want to congratulate you for that. Every story has meaning based on the listener. In both of your cases, you have found scenarios where this will make sense.

If you have the discipline to look at every story in the same set of eyes and not carried away by what the “marketplace” is determining about a story, it’s a fantastic achievement!



sunniya  on September 10th, 2007

so what if one person is slow u can still win. Keep trying until u get what u want.

Late again. But… | Life Beyond Code  on April 22nd, 2008

[…] When you are slow, you say “slow and steady wins the race” [$.02 – not unless EVERYONE believes in this and after that faster one in the crowd […]

Anonymous  on February 8th, 2009

well….in todays day and age,i think,fast and steady usualy wins the race…persistance is needed …and arogance is a complete no no!!if you are just only then will there be a realy winner……

The Kid Credo  on July 29th, 2009

It’s all relative..situational relativity if there’s such a thing…Sometimes u needs to ‘B’ a golden’Gates’ with every ‘S’ituational ‘Jobs’ accomplished =) lol…

The Kid Credo  on July 29th, 2009

or vis versa…sometimes u need a ‘S’ituational ‘Job’ for there to ‘B’ a golden ‘Gates’ =) lol….traslation: mind over matter, matter over your mind….interchangeable play on words…a title I read once: Hare Brain & Tortoise Mind….my thought is I call it situational interchangeability:’Hare Brain for the Tortoise Mind or vis versa Tortoise Mind for the Hare Brain. =) Credo for the Kiddo ;)

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