Slow and Steady Wins the Race: Lessons from the Tortoise

“The secret of success is constancy to purpose.” – Benjamin Disraeli

I’ve been in a battle grappling with my mortal enemies: self-doubt and despondency. They lurk in corners and trail me like two dark shadows, nipping at my heels. Sometimes, my best intentions of living joyfully and with purpose in the light go horribly awry because self-doubt hits me with a surprise right hook and then despondency steps in with an uppercut that leaves me reeling. And I’m knocked flat on the ground. 

Last night, I started to think about turtles. Odd, I know, but it was because I was asked to describe a turtle’s greatest accomplishment from a turtle’s point of view. Unsurprisingly, I immediately made the leap to Aesop’s fable the Tortoise and the Hare.

As I wrote, the parallels between what I think of myself and my current struggles and the turtle became glaringly apparent. This exercise left me with more than a little food for thought. Here’s what I wrote, speaking as the tortoise: 

“My perseverance and persistence has always been my greatest accomplishment, as well as my greatest strength. Those who judge me based on my appearance will think I’m slow of mind and body, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Now, I’m gradually starting to make others see me in a different light. Their doubt in me has only caused me to work harder. Winning the race against the hare only further proved this to myself and became the catalyst for others to realize it, too. I believe that steadiness and diligence always win.

Still, it’s not always easy to feel like you’re left behind, with everyone rushing past you. Despite this, I continue to live my life with a quiet endurance and a knowingness that I’m in the right place at the right time. As difficult as it can be, I strive to persevere through the challenges that present themselves as stumbling blocks in my way, discovering time and time again a newfound strength and determination in myself.  It’s taught me that I’m less likely to make the same mistake twice and to always keep driving forward. I know I can achieve anything I want if I believe in myself.” 


My conclusion: Turtles are pretty freaking awesome. 

I read that the turtle takes his wisdom one day at a time: not reacting, simply accepting and moving on. Doing that alone takes all the strength and determination in the world. If I can learn from that wisdom, then maybe next time I’ll be the one delivering the knockout blow to self-doubt and despondency. 


About Six Feet Standing Tall

Sara Tieman blogs at Six Feet Standing Tall. She stands at 5’11″ and probably could be six feet tall if she stood up straighter…or wore higher heels. She lives in Chicago but also fancies London as her home, too. Attempting to live her life fearlessly, she hopes to share stories that readers will find amusing, insightful or somewhat intriguing as she tries to figure out the meaning of life.
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1 Response to Slow and Steady Wins the Race: Lessons from the Tortoise

  1. Diane Tieman says:

    Thanks for the Turtle wisdom Sara. When I was in college the head of our nursing program had a collection of turtles which prompted me to do so for a while. the saying goes”You can never get anywhere in life unless you stick your neck out” Keep up the great writing. Mama

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