3 Hat Productivity

Slow and Steady

I’ve always been put off by the phrase “slow and steady wins the race.” I first heard it in a book of Aesop’s fables about a tortoise that challenges a hare to a race.

If you’re not familiar with the story, it has a counterintuitive ending: the hare finds himself comically far ahead because, of course, rabbits move much faster than turtles and are particularly well suited for racing. The rabbit decides to arrogantly take a nap in the middle of the race, and somehow sleeps long enough for the tortoise - who can’t move nearly as fast but has been taking one gradual step in the right direction consistently the entire time - to overtake him and win the race.

There’s no way an actual race between a tortoise and a hare would play out like this in real life.


I think the message behind this story is very important: it’s often a much better long term strategy to make slow and consistent progress than trying to race to the finish line.

Here’s my modern retelling of this story in a situation that makes more sense.

There were once two YouTubers, Tyler Oliveira and Sean Seah. They both heard about the Saitomo One Punch Man challenge - a superhero exercise routine to do 100 pushups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and a 10k run every day - and decided to try it (both for the physical gains and more subscribers).

Tyler’s strategy was to go hard and fast. He started day 1 by doing 100 pushups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and a full 10km run. It was grueling and hard, but his motivation pushed him through. To get through the pain, A reminded himself that he only had to get through another 29 days to successfully his goal.

Sean’s strategy was to go easy and slow. He started day 1 by only doing a tenth of the full exercise: 10 pushups, 10 sit-ups, 10 squats, and a quick 1km jog. It would take Sean ten days to catch up to what A did on his very first day.

Tyler and Sean probably didn’t know each other, and so couldn’t have known I would be pitting them against each other in a race, but if they could: A would be feeling pretty confident he was crushing it.

At the end of 30 days, Tyler had crushed his goal. In just 30 days, he went from very little exercise to an amazing 3,000 pushups, 3,000 sit-ups, 3,000 squats, and 300km run. Though he was a little disappointed by his results, and had suffered several injuries pushing himself so hard, Tyler was proud of his accomplishment and took a much deserved break to recuperate. After his break, Tyler would look for another fun 30-day challenge (no sugar? meditating for an hour every day? who knows!)

At the end of 30 days, Sean had only done 300 pushups, 300 sit-ups, 300 squats, and ran 30km - a paltry accomplishment when compared to A, who had hit those numbers on day 10. If this were a race, B likely would’ve felt totally dejected and given up.

But nobody told Sean the race was over.

At the end of 30 days, Sean was feeling great, so decided to double the amount of pushups, sit-ups, and squats he was doing to 20 per day, and started running 2km because 1km had gotten too easy. In another 30 days, he added another 10 reps and another 1km to his run. He kept adding repetitions and distance again and again until he finally hit the full Saitomo regimen several months after he’d started.

But Sean wasn’t done. When the exercises got too easy, he added weights. When the run got too easy, he tried to run it faster. Sean kept pushing himself, slowly improving a little bit every day and looking for progress on the timescale of months and years instead of days.

His results blow Tyler’s out of the water.

Sean likely woke up this morning to do another Saitomo workout, and he’ll most certainly do it again tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that.

Slow and steady might not win the race, but it will win you the marathon.

This story is loosely based on I Trained Like “One Punch Man” For 30 Days and [100 days After One Punch Man Workout…I trained like superhero for 100 Days](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG43cKEbAg)._

Christian Genco

Written by Christian Genco. Follow him on Twitter and your twitter feed will get marginally more interesting.

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