What Can We Learn From the Tortoise?

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I am sure that we all remember the children's story called the "The Tortoise and the Hare." This story has always been one of my favorites, because it is the true underdog story. That's like Coastal Carolina winning the College Baseball Championship. Coastal Carolina has never won a Championship in any sport prior to winning this one. The school's first National Championship in any sport was earned in 2016.  Sink on that for a little bit and read the quote below.

That sign in their dugout reminds me of the Tortoise and the Hare again. In the middle of the race, the hare takes a nap, because he knows that he is going to win. He got too comfortable and it came back to haunt him. Coastal Carolina has had the correct mindset all season. It takes hard work and even some inconveniences to earn what you want.

In preparation for this article, I re-read the story and as I read it, I came up with three things that we can learn.

Lesson 1: Slow and steady wins the race.

I know that this statement has been used multiple times throughout my life and probably yours, but it has so much validation. In my research for an article on lifetime learning, I found that people who win the lottery lose their winnings within seven years. This doesn't mean they lose it, but instead they spend it all. Oppositely, the average millionaire continues to invest their money on a regular basis and finds them self with millions in 20 or even 30 years. These millionaires tend to remain millionaires, because they built their wealth slowly and learned how to manage money correctly.

From this lesson, we can remind ourselves of the importance of sticking with our investing plan and making sure to invest monthly. Our investing over time will slowly lead to great reward. This reward will be the ability to do what you want and when you want.

Lesson 2: Take each day and year, one small step at a time.

For example, Gary Gilmore is the head baseball coach for Coastal Carolina. He has been coaching at Coastal Carolina for 21 years and he has slowly built a solid baseball program. Most baseball coaches attend the College World Series, if their team doesn't make it. Coach Gilmore refused to attend, because he decided that he would not attend until his team made it to the event. For 20 years, he never visited the College World Series, and during those 20 years, he diligently coached his baseball team.  Each year, he built upon his previous team until it led to the culmination of a National Championship in year 21.  It was no fluke that Coastal Carolina won the National Championship. They have been building this program step by step, year by year.  

Similarly, the tortoise could have given up during the race, but he didn't.  He kept going. He kept putting one foot in front of the other.  We can't ever give up on our financial dreams, just like Coastal never gave up on their dreams.  Life is taken one simple step at a time.

Lesson 3: Don't Compare Yourself to Others

The tortoise never let his differences with the hare stop his ambitions to compete in the race. The hare was always faster and further ahead of the tortoise throughout the race, but he never got discouraged. The same thing will happen in life. You are going to have friends that have the newest thing. They will have the brand new car and the big house. They will be traveling to Paris and France. They will have what seems like the perfect life. But most of the time, they are financing this lifestyle.  

Let your friends live this gaudy lifestyle.  Let them pass you by momentarily. By not going into debt for the newest thing and by investing, you will eventually catch them and pass them up. To do this, you will have to stop worrying about what people think about you. This can be tough, because we are all social creatures and want acceptance. Getting acceptance from people by having nice stuff is no way to live. I prefer to gain my acceptance by being who I am and not caring what people think of me.  One of my co-workers once told me, "The one thing that I respect the most about you is that you don't care about what anyone thinks about you."

It takes a lot of growing up to reach this point of maturity. You have to understand that being pressured into living a life that you don't want, will lead to unhappiness. I personally don't like to spend money. I personally don't care if I wear torn up shoes. One of my dress pants has a hole in the pocket. I won't buy another one because the pants are still perfectly good and nobody but me knows about the hole in the pocket. I can't be forced by anyone to do something that I don't want to do. I will sacrifice today for a future of financial security.

Becoming wealthy is not something that will happen over night. It takes time and diligence. This children's story has been teaching us to be patient and keep working for your goals day by day. Some of us may have forgotten about this message as we got older, because we wanted the nice cars, the newest gadgets and the newest shoes. These are all wants and each of us has to decide when the correct time to buy these wants. It definitely is not when you are just starting out.

Avoid debt, save monthly, don't compare yourself to others and take each day and year one step at a time.

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