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Why the tortoise wins

By Ruth Tearle

While we vitamin enriched superheroes have been sprinting towards success, the tortoise has been carving out a simpler path. He has been quietly building up support networks to ensure he achieves success effortlessly in the future.

"I am swallowed by work. I simply don't have time to network or respond to personal e-mail." A friend of mine recently admitted. She added, "I don't know why, but I always feel so weary."

We are living in a world where we are told that the key to success is speed. Our organizations constantly measure our productivity, and our performance. Our customers expect instant answers and instant results. To meet everyone's expectations we work harder. We work longer hours. We neglect our families. We forget to exercise. We neglect ourselves. We tire. We lose energy. We lose interest. We fail. We wonder what went wrong. We feel less confident. We lose our power.

We run like hares - trying to win a race. Yet surely there must be a simpler way?

How the hare runs

To win the race up the corporate ladder, the hare will usually choose one or more of the following strategies:

  • Working harder than anyone else.
  • Taking on high risk and high profile projects that could result in future promotions.
  • Making sure they are noticed by people they consider important.
  • Looking good in front of the bosses.
  • Showing off their superior knowledge to others in meetings.
  • Covering their backs in case they fail. Putting everything in writing.
  • Bragging about their achievements.

This strategy often seems to work, as many hares seem to be winning the race in the beginning. The tortoise, meanwhile is focusing his energy on building relationships and networks and creating databases of knowledge.

The tortoise's secret weapon.

While the hare dashes from one crisis to another, the tortoise is building up an army of future supporters. Ruth Tearle

The tortoise is one of those rare people who achieves quietly and effortlessly. When he makes a mistake, instead of being blamed, customers, staff, and suppliers rally around him. When faced with a problem, others volunteer to help out. When he shares his dreams with others, they are energized and want to contribute.


Why does the tortoise get special treatment?

  • He helps others to achieve their dreams. So they, in return want to help him.
  • People trust him. Because he doesn’t pretend to be anything other than himself.
  • You always know where you stand with him. Because he is always true to his values, and his beliefs.
  • You can always count on him. If he says he’ll do something, it will be done.
  • He keep his promises. He is disciplined. He manages his time well. He acts rather than talks. He is responsible and doesn’t believe in ‘excuses.’
  • He is honest. He says ‘no’ as well as ‘yes’. He doesn’t try to please. He doesn’t pretend.
  • He is humble – even though he’s achieved a lot in his life.
  • He’s calm. He never seems under pressure. He has a balanced life. He works set hours. He rarely works overtime. It is known and accepted that his family and sports are also important to him.
  • He exudes positive energy. People feel refreshed and energized after spending time with him.
  • He cares about others, so they care about him.

The tortoise's secret helpers at work

At work, the tortoise wins most races, because he can achieve at speed. He succeeds because of the business networks of men and women he has, and knowledge he has developed. This is how he does it.

Communities and business networks.


The tortoise develops relationships with communities of people in other companies doing similar jobs to himself. These include men and women.

He knows what these people know, and what experience they have.

Over time, he builds up relationships of trust, based on ‘give and take’ with these external business networks.

Trusted and trusting customers

  • He has an intimate knowledge of his customers. What products and services they use. How they feel about them, and what keeps them awake at night.
  • His customers trust him because of his habit of trying to give them more than they ask or pay for.
  • He is seen as credible, professional and up to date. He finds ways to add value to his customers. For example, he may research new trends and share these with his customers. He often shares his business networks of men & women with his customers, suppliers and colleagues.

Trusted suppliers.

  • He has a database of suppliers who he trusts to provide quality products and services on time.
  • When under pressure, the suppliers choose to work with him rather than their other clients, because he treats them with respect, pays them on time, and is easy to do business with.

Trusted staff.

  • He has an intimate knowledge of the skills, strengths, hopes and dreams of his staff members.
  • His team trusts him because they know he is actively helping them to achieve their own dreams. He helps them to develop career plans that excite them. He introduces them to his networks, he shares his experience with them, he arranges for them to attend relevant training courses, and assigns them onto projects that will take them a step closer to their dreams.


Giving and sharing without expectations builds trust, knowledge and power.

Ruth Tearle

  • He keeps up to date on changing trends in the industry, and the economies he does business in.
  • He understands how these trends could impact on his own business, that of his customers, his networks and his suppliers.
  • He shares his knowledge of these trends with his networks, customers and suppliers.
  • He suggests practical ways that his networks can help one another to take advantage of these trends – for the benefit of all.

Developing powerful communities of communities.

  • He helps people in his various networks (staff members, communities of colleagues, customers, suppliers and the industry) to meet with one another - so that all benefit.

With his battalion of secret helpers, the tortoise doesn't have to work as hard to achieve results. So he has time for friends, family and himself. That is the secret of 'having it all'.

You may also like:


  • Motivational resources Books and cards to inspire yourself and remind yourself of the power you have within you.

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