December 14, 2012


One of Aesop's Fables is the story about the Tortoise and the Hare. In the story, the fast moving hare mocks the slow-moving tortoise and challenges him to a foot race. Despite the disparity of physical agility, one moves slower than the other, everytime I read the story, the slow-moving tortoise wins the race. Does the fast-moving hare lose the race because he is over-confident as evidenced by wasting his time by taking a nap during the race, or does the tortoise teach us that industriousness, zeal and perseverance prevail over laziness? Maybe there's another lesson to be learned from this fable: Sometimes being slow, deliberate and persistent wins the race. There is a difference between a crockpot and a microwave.

A crockpot (metaphor for the tortoise) slowly cooks food that delivers a taste much different from food cooked in a microwave (metaphor for the hare). Both have their place and purpose in the kitchen. It takes time to cook food in the crockpot, whereas, if you're in a hurry, the microwave is more practical. Lets apply the crockpot/microwave metaphor to real-life situations and related expectations.

Career Path:
How many college students expect to earn "big bucks" at their first job after graduating? Maybe it could happen, but a more realistic expectation includes the following mentality: "I will invest myself in a job after graduating from college, and view it as a stepping-stone to something bigger and better. In the meantime, I will prove to employers how dependable and valuable I am within the confines of the free market." This mentality is an example of a person believing making "big bucks" is something that is earned over time, not automatically granted. There is no sense of entitlement. Building personal credibility in the marketplace takes time. It is the difference between the tortoise and the hare, the crockpot and the microwave.

Getting Rich:
For people who value having lots and lots of money, getting from point A (being poor) to point B (being rich) can either be exciting or disappointing. The slow way to get rich is to earn money at a chosen profession, career or calling, wisely invest it and then watch as the compounding interest does its thing. The fast way to get rich is to win the lottery. The odds to make it rich are in favor of the slow, methodical way. Yes, it takes longer to work, earn money and invest it to have lots of money than it takes to win the lottery. However, I wonder how many rich people buy lottery tickets? Maybe the lottery is geared towards a poor person's hope/dream/desire to get rich. Whatever the case, I will rely more on cooking my food in the crockpot with this example in my efforts to prepare for my financial future. For right now, I'm enjoying the journey more than the destination!

Multi-tasking is the ability to do more than one thing at a time. There are risks and benefits to multi-tasking. One of the benefits is the "happy" feeling that is experienced by multi-taskers because so much more can be achieved by doing more than one thing at a time. A drawback is the diminished ability to focus and concentrate on any one task at a time. Ask any person who has had a car accident while texting and driving at the same time, which is not recommended and could be against the law. The jury is still out, but long-term multi-taskers could be putting themselves at risk for losing IQ points, too. Crockpot or Microwave? Doing one thing at a time or doing more than one thing at a time? Moving slow or moving fast? You decide. The science behind multi-tasking.

My Dad's Advice To Me:
My dad would say to me, 'When you do a job, take your time and do it well. You're less likely to make a mistake when you don't rush.' It takes less time to do a job right than it takes to explain why you did it wrong. My dad was a Professional Engineer. My dad did not like to waste time, nor did he have the inclination to feel rushed when he was working. Slow and steady gets the job done correctly the first time so you don't have to go back and do it over. Measure twice, cut once!

Delayed vs. Instant Gratification:
The only legal and moral get-rich-quick plan of which I am aware is to count your blessings. However, from the advertising arena, many of us are led to believe it is possible to get-rich-quick almost quicker than it takes to snap your fingers. What about the ads that proclaim a person can lose up to twenty pounds in one week? Instant gratification is promised in a lot of ads, but rarely delivered. Then there's the media. Growing up in the age of television and movies, we are shown how the presenting problem in the plot is resolved anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours.

Many people think real life moves as fast as the ads promise, or as fast as conflict is resolved on TV shows and movies. Many of us want to believe in false promises and consequently feel a sense of false hope. Getting the results we want, the faster the better, is glamorized as something that is realistically achieveable. Life is generally more complex than what the culture portrays in some advertising claims and in some media outlets. Real life is different from what we see on TV and the big screen. If advertising and  media versions of life sound too good to be true, they probably are too good to be true.

Time = Distance/Speed.

Most trips in the car are 25 miles or less. Lets say a person decides to drive 65 mph rather than 55 mph for 25 miles. The faster car will arrive at its destination 4 minutes and 20 seconds quicker than the slower car.

How about a road trip between New York City and Los Angeles? Total driving miles = approximately 2,787 miles. The hare drives 80 mph and arrives at his destination in 34 hours and 48 minutes. It will take the tortoise 39 hours and 48 minutes driving the same distance at 70 mph. The hare shows-up about 5 hours sooner, but at what expense?

The above two driving examples assume a constant speed so actual variables like stopping and slowing aren't taken into account. They also assume that the hare is driving over the speed limit, while the tortoise is driving the speed limit. Even driving the speed limit is considered to be too slow for the hare.

Driving the posted speed limit, when conditions allow for it, is not a suggestion. It is the law.

Driving even a few miles over the speed limit increases a driver's chances of losing control of the vehicle, increases braking distance, reduces effectiveness of seat belt and other safety devices, increases chances of getting a ticket and subsequent higher insurance premiums and dramatically increases the severity of injuries if there is a crash.

Comedian, Rodney Dangerfield, once joked, 'When I heard most car accidents happen within 25 miles from home, I decided to move.'

In Summary:
Whether you decide to live your life in the fast lane, the slow lane or somewhere in the middle, it is easy to become so distracted by what you believe needs to be done that you don't remember to be grateful for the ability to do. To breathe. To laugh. To love. To see. To hear. To taste. To smell. To touch. To speak. To listen. To think. To feel. To act. To live in the moment. These are invaluable gifts!

Written by,
Mark Rogers, LPC.
Licensed Professional Counselor.

I acknowledge financial expert, Dave Ramsey, for talking about the "crockpot & microwave" metaphor on one of his radio shows. It inspired me to write this article. Thanks, Dave!

Taking a time-out from kayaking to signal a "thumbs-up" for Stooltime Counseling! Thanks, Laura! I appreciate it.

Orange is one of Gina's favorite colors. Being a dental hygienist comes second to being a wife and a mom as favorite things to do. Thanks for supporting Stooltime Counseling, Gina!

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