Tortoising

Tortoising.
 
What? Is that an actual word?
 
No, I just made it up. It means moving like a tortoise when it is called for to excel in business. 
 
Move slower in business?? Isn’t that counter to everything we read?
 
Yes, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It just means most discount this cunning strategy… Remember Aesop’s fable that involved the tortoise and the hare? Who got to the finish line first? The tortoise did. Soundly. Confidently. Victoriously.  
 
In today’s business endeavors, where speed seems only to be getting faster and faster, it is worth remembering that in business the tortoise still beats the hare, as the fable says about our venerable friend the tortoise, “by taking one good step after another.”
 
We have a saying around JS that you have to slow down to speed up. At Apple, they say new is easy, but right is hard. It is hard. Good things – the right things – really do take time. Let’s fight the propensity to speed up in business for everything and move too fast. 
 
Jim Collins of “Good to Great” fame has a phrase called “the genius of the and.” What he means by this statement is that two seemingly opposed traits actually work together, not as an option (the “or”), but rather as a complement (the “and”).
 
Humility and ambition. 
Slow and steady.
Methodical and planful.
Integrity and results.
 
Ok. Back to tortoising – 
 
This thought came to me while reading a book called “Tuesday Morning Coaching” by David Cottrell. Cottrell made some thought-provoking points about success and how going slow – tortoising, my little word for it – is a smart thing:
 
  • Successful companies are not distracted by their success. Instead, they move on relentlessly, regardless of wins or losses, but constantly learn and strive to improve upon the current state.
  • They do a little bit more than the task is required. It means going the extra distance – sometimes literally. 
  • They learn from their failures (note plural) and keep moving on. No tears and no fears about tackling the next assignment.  
  • They see it, feel it, trust it and do it. This model is their approach to achieving goals. See the goal and then envision yourself reaching it. Trust you can make it happen and then get it done. Follow this formula again and again. Over time, the small steps can lead to big wins. 
  • Go all in. No excuses or half measures. Embrace the commitment to be better today than you were yesterday. 
  • Focus inside your boat. This little gem of a phrase relates to rowers not letting outside forces such as rain and wind and choppy waters distract them from the demanding rowing task. It is a good reminder that in business we should focus on what we can control and stay disciplined in terms of our commitment to our values and purpose and belief that excellence really matters.
Well, here’s to our friend the tortoise. This treasured animal is an underestimated hero and reminds us that being thoughtful and methodical in this frenetic, dizzyingly fast-paced world we all call home can be the key to longevity. After all, tortoises can live to be 150 years old – the longest lifespans of any animal. How many businesses can say the same? Yours could get there. JS could get there. We’ll just keep focusing on taking one good step after another.
 
See you down the road…