Let’s start with a story from Aesop’s Fables.

Why? We all interpret these tales in different ways, which can reveal a lot about our way of thinking. Everything is information including your response to the fact that we are starting with a children’s tale.

The Hare and the Tortoise

A Hare was making fun of the Tortoise one day for being so slow.

“Do you ever get anywhere?” he asked with a mocking laugh.

“Yes,” replied the Tortoise, “and I get there sooner than you think. I’ll run you a race and prove it.”

The Hare was much amused at the idea of running a race with the Tortoise, but for the fun of the thing he agreed. So the Fox, who had consented to act as judge, marked the distance and started the runners off.

The Hare was soon far out of sight, and to make the Tortoise feel very deeply how ridiculous it was for him to try a race with a Hare, he lay down beside the course to take a nap until the Tortoise should catch up.

The Tortoise meanwhile kept going slowly but steadily, and, after a time, passed the place where the Hare was sleeping. But the Hare slept on very peacefully; and when at last he did wake up, the Tortoise was near the goal. The Hare now ran his swiftest, but he could not overtake the Tortoise in time.

What Do I See in the Story?

I love this story.

I see the power of steady consistent effort. Of daily routines to ensure key priorities get the focus they deserve.

And yet, I am a little sad for the Hare but certainly wouldn’t have taken the risk. I would want to ensure victory first and then rest.

At the same time, I hear a message of Well why struggle doing something you aren’t good at? Why not play to your natural strengths? Just stay humble and you’ll be fine.

What About You?

  • Do you sympathise more with the Hare?
    • With his debonair approach?
    • His risk-taking?
    • Are you sad he lost despite having all the natural advantages? What a waste?
    • Or does this tell you that overconfidence can lead to failure?
  • With the Tortoise and his slow and steady approach, despite the odds?
    • Nothing flash, just an honest effort.
    • Do you relate to his stubbornness?
    • Do you relate to the fact that he feels free to go at his own pace, unburdened by expectations or the need to compete on anyone else’s terms?
    • Do you see anything as being possible if you try hard enough?

What Else Might Be True?

This very simple question, if asked honestly and persistently, can offer us a means of stepping outside our own thinking.

Once we do so, we can become increasingly aware of how we see the world and this knowledge brings power and optionality. We get to see the world in new ways and let go of the old stories we tell ourselves about who we are.

Alas, patience is required! You have spent a lifetime building up your current thinking patterns. It takes steady effort to win through, just like the Tortoise.

Questions in the Image:

  • How might I disrupt my own thinking?
  • What is my default way of thinking?

  • Optimist? Pessimist? Risk-averse? Risk-taker?
  • Adaptable? Resistant to change?
  • Problem-solver? Complacent?

Want to Read More Around This Topic?

Aesop’s Fables offer us everything we need. The invitation is to read each story, reflect on what you noticed, how you are interpreting it and ask: What else might be true? What might I be missing?

Nurturing Curiosity – Daily Practice: This is part of the Nurturing Curiosity series of tools, insights and questions designed to help nurture curiosity as part of our daily practice. In point of fact, every interaction we have is an opportunity to question what we are observing and how we and others are seeing the world. Also remember that questions come in many forms throughout our day – a gentle breeze playing with the apple tree in front of my office is asking me How might you go more with the flow? This is essentially the Taoist idea of Wu Wei (cut wood with the grain not against it). So, how then might I apply this today?

About Tom O’Leary

My mission is to help others think differently – meaning more broadly and deeply – and thereby make better decisions. The key to thinking differently lies in our curiosity.

The more we question, the more possible answers we uncover, and the more we expand what we thought possible. Life has taught me that possibility lies not so much in seeking answers but in learning to ask better questions – the ones that help prioritise what is truly essential.

And yet, in a culture obsessed with efficiency and productivity, the paradox is that much energy and resources are wasted by a bias towards action over contemplation. If you are answering the wrong question, it doesn’t matter how ‘hard’ you work, you are still answering the wrong question.

That is why I am a big advocate of nurturing curiosity and innovative thinking at all ages, particularly amongst leaders because of the impact they have on us all. In my vision, leaders aren’t boxed in by traditional thinking or established playbooks. They are curious, open to fresh ideas and diverse perspectives, fostering a culture of exploration and learning.

How Might Tom Help?

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