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Are you a Turtle or a Hare?

by bevbarnes on July 2, 2013

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I’ve been working with a group of Life Coaches lately in my Coaches Cocoon group and a common theme has emerged – discouragement, discontent and frustration about not having a thriving coaching practice yet.

These Life Coaches have discovered their calling – their life’s work and they are struggling with shifting this dream from a fantasy to their j.o.b.

Here’s their biggest complaint:

This is taking too long.

Some have been trained and certified as Life Coaches several years ago, some just recently – but they all have the same complaint.

This is taking too long.

I get it.

When you know what your calling is – you just want to get on with it.

What I’ve seen is that the way that you transition to your calling is the way that you leave relationships.

You’ll probably be either a hare or a turtle.

Are you a hare?

You leap quickly and deal with whatever shows up? You leave relationships and start new ones FAST. It works well for you. You are comfortable with big upheaval, big emotions, big change. You sometimes look back and think it might have gone better if you had taken your time but you know that if you are going to go, you have to go fast and go big.

Are you a turtle?

You take tiny steps so that the change seems seamless. You deal with your grief of leaving the old, bit by bit, often before the leap. Other people think that change looks easy because there doesn’t seem to be so much upheaval, but for you, it is painfully slow. You wish that you could just leap, but you know that taking tiny steps is the only way that you can make change.

It’s not better to be a turtle or a hare.  It just is.

What’s hard is when you are a turtle trying to be a hare or a hare trying to be a turtle.

Here’s my radical advice.

Be who you are.

Here’s how:

1. Look back at how you’ve made changes in the past. Notice your patterns, your strategies, what worked and what didn’t. Replicate what worked for you.  To help you do this, download my – What works for YOU – worksheet here.

2. Accept that you are a hare – and stop slowing yourself down or accept that you are a turtle – and stop beating yourself up for taking small steps.

In case you are curious, I’m a turtle. It looks like I trained as a Coach and then immediately became a Coach Instructor and started running a successful business.

But I heard of life coaching for the first time 20 years ago and I only committed to it 5 years ago.

If you commit to creating your life’s work, then you’ll do it – in your own time.

It’s not a race.

I LOVE hearing from you.  Do you think that starting your life’s work is taking too long?   Are you a hare or a turtle? Share below on the blog.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendy July 2, 2013 at 10:26 am

Great post. I’ve always thought that I ‘over-prepare’ for things — spend years and years building my skills, courage and support system before making a change. But your post helped me to see that this is just my way of doing things in the turtle tradition. Though it is really hard to be patient, I have found that when I make a big change, it tends to go smoothly and I have had great success, partly because of the years of preparation I’ve put in. Thanks for writing this post and helping me to appreciate my own way of doing things.


Bev Barnes July 2, 2013 at 11:50 am

Thanks for sharing this Wendy. Accepting who you are and recognizing how perfect that is for you is key!


Gwen July 2, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Alas, I am a turtle. Deep down in my bones, I want to be a hare, to just leap forward, and quickly land into the new. But I’m not. And while I get impatient with myself, feeling like I need to have it all figured out and just go – if I move too fast, beyond my natural pace, I drown out my intuition. Things tend to go a bit better for me when I try to notice and gradually go towards what works and feels good.


Bev Barnes July 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm

I’d switch that up to “Yay I’m a turtle!” Gwen. How great to know that when you follow your natural pace you can hear your intuition and when you don’t you can’t. That is such a great point!


Cheryl Brown July 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm

This is a good perspective. I’ve never thought about it before, but I think I’m a turtle. I did hair for 20 years before opening my own salon. I managed a salon, worked as an educator for 2 separate product lines, and rented a station before I ever even thought about opening my own business. My clients asked me what took me so long. My husband and I have been married nearly 30 years so it’s hard to think about how I leave a relationship. I had to think about various friendships that failed. Great analogy!


Bev Barnes July 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Cheryl, you are a great example that it isn’t you can get things done even in your own time and that others can sometime see you more clearly than you can see yourself. Thanks for sharing again.


Lynne July 2, 2013 at 12:45 pm

LOVE this post Bev!
Time & the Manifestation/Realization of our Dreams is such an important element (which is often overlooked)!

I believe I am mostly an “Intuitive” Turtle… I strategically move forward & feel confident as I leap towards change. I trust my intuition. If I don’t “feel” it, then I do not follow through. Sometimes, this means following through against logic.

What really helps me throughout my entrepreneurial journey is Setting Myself Back to Zero everyday! In other words, I start everyday afresh, anew. Yesterday is gone. Today is all there is. Then, I see what happens…
Good news! There is always something happening.

Is it taking time to see my dreams come true? Yes! Absolutely. It sometimes even seems like I am assembling a 2500 piece puzzle, one single piece at a time, which has only 1 color (with different shades) in it… Quite the challenge!

Nonetheless, with TRUST & a VISION, I feel guided at every step 🙂
My puzzle is being assembled… I am moving forward along my divine path…

To Your Infinite Expansion!
Lynne 😉


Bev Barnes July 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Lynne, I love the way that you start afresh, anew every day. That is a great strategy and can help a turtle feel like there is movement. Great 2500 puzzle piece analogy too. Thanks for sharing this!


Christina Ferrari July 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Hi Bev! I’m not sure if I’m a turtle or a hare! In the past, it’s taken me a long time to leave relationships, sometimes years after I realized that they were not right for me AT ALL. But I do nothing (or it seems like nothing other than lots of avoiding the problem) until the day I wake up and realize, Wow, I really cannot live like this anymore. Then I leap into hare mode and race off into the next new thing, often burning bridges on the way and feeling regretful about some of the collateral damage. As I write this, I’m thinking that I am probably more turtle than I wanted to admit (I guess like a lot of people I think hares are “better”). Next time I have a big change to make (like transitioning from my old career into coaching) I will try to be more turtle about it and see how that alters the experience for me. By the way, I think it’s fantastic that you are focusing on coaching life coaches — I’ve benefited so much from your gifts as a current MBI cadet. I’m grateful!


Bev Barnes July 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Hi Christina! You are probably in a phase of pre-contemplation, contemplation then preparation before action. We all do that. Some of us do go through these phases more quickly than others. I love that you are going try out being more turtle than hare and seeing how that works. Thanks for the support about my new niche! xoxxo


Bonnie Olson July 2, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Hey Bev!
I always love getting your gentle, kind words of wisdom. (To be kind to ourselves) Turtle or hare? Both at times! I am just getting back from Africa and feel as though I have so much to catch up on to get back on track, but the reality is that it is summer and time to take it slow. Thank you for these reminders. Happy summer!


Bev Barnes July 3, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Hi Bonnie! Thanks for commenting. I hope that your trip was fabulous. I’m thrilled that you had that experience (and hoping that I do one of these days :). xoxo


Janelle July 3, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Hi Bev! Well, I’m pretty positive I’m a hare. Thanks for those definitions! I like being a hare. I’m curious – for the coaches where it’s taking too long does that mean that it’s taking too long for them to leave their previous work or build their clientele? I’m naturally impatient, and it was helpful to me when someone pointed out that it can take 2-3 years to fully fill your practice (on average). I thought it was supposed to happen RIGHT AWAY and that if it didn’t I wasn’t doing well. That’s just not true. These things do take time and I’m happy to have a full practice after two years of hard work. Thanks for helping me get there!


Bev Barnes July 3, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Yes Janelle. You are a hare. It’s nice to know. Also even for the hares out there it’s true, the average career transition (where you shift identities) takes about three years.

I’m loving your work, your newsletter and your enthusiasm Janelle and am so happy that I got to play a part in your transition to Coaching. Yay YOU!


Jennifer Kennedy July 4, 2013 at 2:26 am

My childhood made me a hare.

My dad was in the military, so we moved around quite a bit. We moved every few years. So, I’ve always been the “Gotta Go” type, wanting things to happen in a hurry. I change minds like we changed houses when I was younger.

I embrace the hare, but I’m trying to be more and more like the turtle. I’m reminded of the time I trained for a full marathon — I wasn’t able to get out and run 26.2 miles in one day! It took consistent training to cross that finish line! And, this I’m trying to keep in mind as I slowly build a business! Thanks for the reminder.


Bev Barnes July 4, 2013 at 2:54 am

Hi Jennifer. It seems that even if you are a hare, building a business takes consistency and time. Good to know. Thanks for sharing this!


Leda Asmar July 9, 2013 at 3:01 am

Great reminder Bev, to be who we are. I wanted to be a hare sometimes, I put on a hare mask and tried to act like one. But I’m a turtle. In things that matter the most, I’m a turtle. I’m finally learning to embrace it. Slowly. I hurry slowly.


Bev Barnes July 9, 2013 at 10:28 am

Hi Leda. Good to hear from you. It’s nice to relax into who you are. I love “Slowly. I hurry slowly.”


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