Why You Need to Be the Tortoise If You Want to Win in Business
  • Reading time:6 mins read

The tortoise is resolute and focused on the end goal. Because he moves so slow, he is not able to flit off in many directions like the hare.

He has a hard shell that protects him from the outside world. Regardless of what gets thrown at him, he continues down his path.

We need to be the same if we want to be successful in business. We have to choose a long-term goal and be willing to stick to the path. Changing direction at the sight of every new trend will take us off route and away from our end goal.

Those that move the slowest go the furthest

An interesting study was done to see which animals travelled the furthest over time.

Bejan found that animals that move slower tended to travel further over time. For example, Cheetahs can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3 seconds. But they can only maintain this speed for 30 seconds.

The Bugatti Chiron is one of the fastest cars in the world. It can hit a top speed of over 300 miles per hour (482kph). But will empty its tank in under 10 minutes. 

These incredible speeds may look cool, but are rarely useful.

If you are chasing long term goals, you need to think about how you can reach them over the next 5 to 20 years. Not 5 to 20 minutes.

The largest companies in the US by revenue are Walmart, Amazon, Apple, CVS Health and ExxonMobil.

They started in 1962, 1994, 1976, 1963 and 1911 respectively. 

That’s an average of 60 years old.

It may seem that things are changing overnight, and you need to chase the latest trend, but they are in fact not.

The key is to follow the long-term trend

For a long time, we have known that everything is going online. Over the last 25 years, Amazon has been following that trend. First by becoming the number one online store and next by becoming the number one cloud provider.

These are both trends that everyone could see coming for years but only Amazon took the slow and steady march for 25 years.

There were many companies during the dot-com years that tried to become overnight billionaires. Almost all failed and even though some were lucky enough to make money at someone else’s expense.

Electric cars are also another trend that almost everyone is aware of. The question is when not if, but when we will have more electric cars than traditional cars. Tesla has been developing better and better cars for close to 20 years now.

Both these companies only achieved global success in the last few years and at many points looked as though they wouldn’t survive.

Their CEOs need to have tough outer shells to weather the storm on the way to success. They couldn’t get pulled into trying to make a quick profit overnight or on into the latest fads.

To succeed – you need to think long term

Ask yourself how the world will change over your lifetime. Not the entire world – but your world.

Look around you – your home, your town. 

Where do your skills and interests lie and how are these things changing?

If you are a scientist or financial wizard or even someone who loves food. You must have an inkling about how these industries are changing.

If it’s your passion you would have some idea of what big trends and changes are coming to your market.

What will your industry look like over the next few decades and how can you take advantage of that?

Do you need to buy new tools or learn new skills?

With enough time you can learn to do almost anything, so don’t worry about what you are currently capable of. 

What will your world look like between now and your death bed and how will you maximise your advantage?

Forget about what is trending today because everyone is chasing that. The profits will be slim and pickings thin.

Patience is a long-lost art and if you start focusing on the long term you will be far more successful.

You need to be flexible in your approach but steadfast in your goal

Patience does not mean sitting and waiting for things to come to you.

Good things don’t come to those that wait – they come to those that chase.

Your goals may be cast in stone, but your route may not yet be determined.

You will face many obstacles along the road and can’t be stuck in your ways. You need to think of new ways to reach your old goals every time you hit a dead end.

As things become more obvious more people will jump onto the trend. You may then have to change your methods again.

Your daily task is to figure how you can move towards your long-term goal no matter how small a step you take.

It’s simple but hard

Long term trends are usually obvious. We’ve known about the growth of the internet for a long time and the expectation of the growth in electric cars.

The difficult part is dedicating 20 years of your life to this pursuit. How many of us are willing to spend all our time and money on something that will only pay off 20 years from now.

The shortest route to success is in fact the long-term plan. The greatest payoffs take the longest time.

It’s much easier to become the best you can be at something if that is all that you do. It’s also much easier to pursue your goal for only 3 or 4 hours a day if you not doing 100 other things.

For example, think about how long it would take you to read all the books on your subject. You could spend 3 to 4 hours a day doing it every day. 

That’s 1200 hours a year. 

If it takes an average person 6 hours to read a book. You could read 200 books on your subject in a year. 

That is more than most people do in a lifetime.

Spending an entire year researching your chosen subject won’t seem like much if you are planning on reaping those benefits for the next 20 to 50 years.

The problem is that we are so distracted by the world that we end up getting lost along the way.

This is the reason why the tortoise always beats the hare.