Almost everyone knows the story of the tortoise and the hare. A slow turtle is tired of getting picked on by a fast rabbit so he challenges him to a race. Halfway through the race the rabbit takes a nap because he believes he has so much time before the turtle finishes. However, the rabbit sleeps to long and the turtle, moving at his slow and steady pass, wins the race. This is a great children’s story with many lessons. The most popular lesson taught using this story is slow and steady wins the race. What is meant by that, at least I think, is that hard work will get results and good things take time. These are great messages to pass along but I see a different message coming through the story of the tortoise and the hare.
Let’s be honesty, the tortoise did not and would not ever win that race; the hare lost the race. If the hare just ran the race and did not nap he would have easily won no matter how slow and steady the tortoise went. This is why the lesson I see from “The Tortoise and the Hare” is one of humility. If the rabbit was humble, he would not have taken a nap he would have race the race nobly. In fact, the race probably would not have happened because the rabbit would not have been bragging about his speed.
But why shouldn’t the rabbit boast about his speed? The rabbit takes pride in his speed and wants others to know; this is where the problem lies. The rabbit, like many of us, want others to know our skills and all the great things we do so that they think highly of us and are proud of us. However, we should not be trying to make anyone proud but ourselves. This is why I believe humility is so important. If we live a humble life then we can take pride in our actions for our own sake and not for the sake of others. By doing this we will take even more pride in our actions and respect ourselves more. We will also gain the respect of the people around us because they know and we know that our actions are for the right reason.
To give you an example, I will turn once again turn to Randy Pausch and his book The Last Lecture. I finally finished the book and I am just amazed by how many life lessons could be fit into one book. Randy Pausch seemed to be a truly amazing man and I would have loved to be a student of his, but I digress. In his book he tells a story about his father. His father served in the army and was issued the Bronze Star of valor. Randy and his mother were never told about this Bronze Star though. They only found out after his father passed and they were going through his things. Randy’s father got an award for a heroic action and did not even tell his family about it; I do not see how a person can be more humble than that.
Think about the impact of that humility. If Randy’s father went around bragging about the award, it would almost take away from what he did. It would seem as though he did his heroic act just to say he was a hero. This shows how humility makes sure that we do things for the right reasons. When someone goes around boasting about how great of a person they are because of something they did that just seems like they are looking for attention and fishing for compliments. I know that is strongly judgmental and I am sorry because I do not like to judge people but sometimes I cannot help it. The fact is I just respect a person so much more when I have to find out how they did something amazing from another person. This is the kind of respect I want people to have for me. If I do not get it because no one ever finds out about my actions; well that is okay too because I will be proud of myself. I do not know who said this quote and I think I changed it around a bit but in the end “character is not what you do when a crowd is watching, but what you do when their backs are turned.”
Next time I start ranting about how great I am and really letting my ego show, I am going to stop, think, and ask myself; “Do I want to be the hare or Randy’s father?” Which one are you going to choose?