Tortoise and the Hare - Humble Lessons from a Burgeoning Toastmaster

the-tortoise-and-the-hare-blue-square-wingsdomain-art-and-photographyThere is something to be learned from the Tortoise, a rather deliberate creature who moves only as quick as his sure-footed nature. He - surely perceived as an old cranky man - doesn't jump into things willy-nilly. No, he's a quiet guy who tends to stay to himself. Loving a nice ramble along the sea, or a 3 hour chew on his favorite green leafy plant, he's in no rush. And why should he be? He's got 150 years to play on earth, which gives him a vast amount of knowledge and wisdom. Enough knowledge and wisdom to know that the Hare's ill thought out plans, lack of experience and general gumption to throw himself into any situation is trouble.  

Ah, but the Hare thinks differently. For one, his lifespan is short, very short. So short that if he doesn't move quickly time will pass him in the blink of an eye. And with those long legs, and that surging energy, Hare knows full well that he's got to take life as it comes. There's no time wait, no time for excuses, no time for "if only I...". In Hare's world, that's a recipe for danger. "Say yes!" he screams. "Just do it!" is his motto. And with a wiggle of his nose, and a shake of his tail, he darts off to tackle any new grand adventure. 

I love Hare. I embody him to a fault. As I grow older, I realize that there is only one of me on this planet. There is only one of me to change the world, or at least my surroundings, because no one is Now whether that's good or bad, it has proved well for me. It has allowed me to move to Spain without any money, language, contacts, job or paperwork. It has allowed me to become a bicycle guide, souring through the Pyrenees, without ever guiding a group of people before either on a bike or in Spain. I have opened my door to strangers, giving them the opportunity to share my house, my food, my life, and I have stayed around the world in houses of strangers, because hey, life is short. Where there is a new adventure, I want to be part of it!

That said, when opting to Chair the Toastmaster's Area Contest, in my full Hare glory, I failed to realize that our dear friend Tortoise has a shell full of lessons to share with us. Remember, he's lived a long time, and despite my perpetual spontaneity, effective planning is key to mold a relaxing experience. 

What does that mean?

It means that the number one lesson I learned from this experience is that I wished for a timeline. As I had never attended an event, seen an event or been apart of an Area Contest, I was dying for a concrete visual tool to help me SEE something I had never experienced; a means to execute ACTIONABLE TASKS; a way to structure effective TIME MANAGEMENT. I wanted Tortoise's prized patience, foresight and effective communication.

Like my speeches, which are typically created in my head not 5 minutes before I take the stage, planning doesn't have to be seen as confining or laborious. The tortoise is very methodical when he crosses the street, looking both ways at least a dozen times before making his move, while the hare rushes without looking in any direction but forward. I love this side of me, but if Toastmasters has taught me anything, it to accept that my inherent abilities are worth celebrating, but true greatness comes from balance. And to find balance, we must build that part of us that we're a bit scared of. 

Hence, the future clearly holds a touch more Tortoise in my life, but I'll never stop yearning to jump into any grand adventure with 2 feet forward screaming Wahoo! And with any luck, you'll all come with me!