When you were a child, did you read the fables of Aesop – moral tales featuring animals?
I’m going to tell you the story about the Tortoise and the Hare .
A tortoise and a hare were arguing about who was the fastest. They decided to settle the matter with a race. The hare had such confidence in his natural ability for speed, that he didn’t worry about the race. He lay down by the side of the road and went to sleep.
Meanwhile, the tortoise, aware of his slow movements, plodded along without stopping until he passed the sleeping hare and won the race.
The moral of this story is “Slow and Steady wins the race”. The tortoise demonstrates how a naturally gifted person through lack of dedication is often beaten by a persistent plodder.
Now I will tell you a similar story about a boy who was passionate about science. In primary school, he read science books and magazines. He had a chemistry laboratory set up in the laundry.
While other boys kicked footballs, this boy read about atomic reactors and dreamed of becoming a scientist. This boy was me – full of passion and enthusiasm for science.
In my first year of high school science was a new subject and I got to use a real science laboratory. Science was my favourite subject and I didn’t worry too much about studying because of my primary school reading.
Science was new to my classmates and they had to plod through unfamiliar material. I was able to have fun doing experiments and not get stressed.
At the end of the year I received the Year 7 Science prize. I was the science hare!
In the next school year , the work load increased. English essays, French grammar and Geography. I didn’t worry too much about science as that was easy, so I took it easy, just like the hare.
At the end of the year the Science Prize was awarded to …. Someone else! Oh no! What happened? A science tortoise had plodded ahead of me.
What had gone wrong? I loved science, so why couldn’t I excel and win the prize? I had slackened off. I wanted a career in science but my classmates had overtaken me.
I decided to work hard and work consistently. So I became a science Tortoise, and often I was a fast Tortoise!
I worked hard in all my subjects and eventally studied science at Sydney University where a lot of persistence and hard work was needed to graduate.
In many parts of my life I am a Tortoise not a Hare. I’m not the fastest or brightest, but I know where I want to go. I persist and take action every day to reach the finish line. Often I overtake a hare resting at the side of the road.
When you are working on your goals, Remember the story of the hare and the tortoise : just because you have natural abilities don’t become complacent like the hare and fall asleep at the side of the road.
Instead, be like the tortoise who knows where he is going. Be persistent and steady and you will win the race.
My friend John Rogers received the science prize each year from Year 8 onwards. Be both attended the International Science School held at Sydney University in the September holidays when we were in Year 11. John and I both studied the top level mathematics (equivalent of 2 Unit extension in the current syllabus). I passed the exams with regular coaching, but John came top in the state in the HSC.
I toyed with the idea of pursuing Chemistry as a career but got interested in computers and decided to major in Computer Science and Pure Mathematics. In my last year of school I seriously considered studying Medicine and worked really hard, however my marks weren’t high enough. My HSC result was in the top 5% of the state, but I needed to be in the top 2% to qualify.