Slow and steady wins…

Does speed always lose?

The fourth post in my ongoing series on conventional wisdom.

We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare. It’s one of Aesops fables and has been a staple of conventional wisdom since around 600 BCE.

The hare challenges the tortoise to a race. Gets cocky. Takes a nap in the middle of a race. The tortoise passes him and wins. And the moral of the story is: Slow and steady wins the race.

Wait! Except that’s not the moral at all. The moral is “Don’t get cocky and lose focus.” The tortoise was slow and steady, and yes, he wins. But if the hare doesn’t goof off, the tortoise loses in a landslide.

So why do we all remember “slow and steady wins the race?” Because I think it’s a comforting thought. If you work slowly and methodically, you will succeed no matter how quick your competition is. I fear that’s bad advice in today’s fast moving world.

I hear echoes of “slow and steady” all the time, with the distinct impression that slow somehow equals strategic and fast equals reckless. I don’t buy into that. I think it’s a oversimplification of reality.

First of all, everything depends on the “race.” I could believe that slow and steady wins the really long endurance race. But fast always wins in a shorter race.

I’m still not sure that’s right, though. There are people and companies that can move quickly without losing focus. And those people are going to win the short races and the long races, too. 

Perhaps the true moral of the story has nothing at all to do with speed and everything to do with consistency:

It doesn’t matter if you are fast or slow, steady wins the race.

Let’s just take speed out of the equation. Being consistent is key. Don’t slack off if you have a lead. Don’t quit if you fall behind.

The hare wasn’t true to his talent, slacked off and lost focus. The tortoise moved as fast as he could. In the end, the tortoise’s consistency was the key to success — not his slow pace.


Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. In his spare time, he is trying to get back into running... slowly. Follow Bob on Twitter and Instagram.

Microblogging Structure?

How will we set up our microblogs?

Random thoughts as we wait for Micro.Blog to launch.

 

It looks like there are two basic ways to configure microblogs:

  1. Set up a page for only your microblog posts – either on your own site or through a hosted service.
  2. Mix your microblog posts with your regular blog posts.

I wonder which will become the “accepted” way to configure your microblog. From a technical standpoint, both are reasonably easy to configure. 

If you collect all your microblog posts on a single page, it most closely mimics Twitter. But while many of us think of Micro.blog as a Twitter replacement, it is a different service. And some conventions that work on Twitter may not work as well on Micro.Blog.

Personally, I like the way that microblog posts and regular posts can be intermingled. (Manton has his own site set up this way.)

I think the best option for you will come down to how interrelated the content of your blog and microblog are. What would it look like if your blog posts and Twitter feed were interwoven? If they are similar, combining them will make sense. But if you write about technology on your blog and the bulk of your microblog posts are about bird watching, I don’t think it makes sense to combine them.

I look forward to seeing how the service functions before I make any significant decisions. On Sketchbook B, I’ve started to experiment with a separate Microblog page. (The RSS feed coming out of Squarespace seems to conform to the basic microblog structure. More on that in a future post.) I’m not sure I’ll leave it that way. For backing the Kickstarter, I'll get 12 months of Micro.Blog hosting so I'll probably start over there. But I like the idea of hosting all of my writing here, either on it's own page or integrated with my longer blog posts.

Let me know what you think on Twitter or on the Indie Microblogging Slack channel.


Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. In his spare time, he is contemplating this whole microblogging thing will work. Follow Bob on Twitter and Instagram.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Does effort solve all problems?

The third post in my ongoing series on conventional wisdom.

We’ve all heard the classic saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Don’t give up! Determination will win the day! Increased effort is the solution to all problems.

The saying was popularized by William Hickson, a British education writer in the mid-1800s. The full phase is:

'Tis a lesson you should heed:
Try, try, try again.
If at first you don't succeed,
Try, try, try again.

The rhyme was obviously intended for to encourage school children to keep up their studies until they mastered a concept. But this simple message has grown into so much more than that.

The message that “effort solves everything” is ingrained in the American psyche. I’ve seen this phrase used by parents, managers, teachers, pastors and coaches. I’ve even used this phrase with my kids and my students. It’s intended to be inspirational, right? Just try harder and you, too, can succeed.

Often, it’s shortened to just be “Well, if at first you don’t succeed…” and endless and continuous effort is simply implied as an obvious next step.

Is this good advice for kindergarteners learning to ride a bike? Sure. Is this good advice for business? Not really.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” implies that no matter what, you need to stay the course. If you try harder, you’ll eventually get it. And if you fail, it’s your fault for not trying harder. 

You’ll pass the test.

You’ll make the sale.

You’ll solve the problem.

But all this focus on effort ignores one significant fact: Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you fail. 

Repeating the same approach over and over might not get you closer to a solution. It only wastes time and resources. Effort is only part of the solution.

So how about an adjustment to the classic saying:

If at first you don’t succeed, ask why.

Once you understand why you failed, it’s easier to figure out a path forward. If you are headed the wrong way, continuing ahead blindly only gets you further from your goal.

Effort alone can’t always solve the problem. If you don’t know how to study for a test, studying more won’t help. Working harder won’t help your sales staff sell a flawed product. When you evaluate what went wrong, you’ll often find an better solution.

Every so often, you’ll find the goals that you’ve set are unachievable. I’m not advocating quitting, but there are times and situations where no amount of effort is going to help you reach an impossible goal. That’s okay. Reevaluate your priorities and figure out the next step. 


Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. In his spare time, he is annoying his kindergarten-teacher wife with this post. Follow Bob on Twitter and Instagram.