Gar (short for Garfield, I think) worked for me back in the day. This was a while ago, when I was attempting to create another start-up company. Gar was the only applicant desperate enough to come on board for little pay and a lot of promises.

I interviewed him on Christmas Eve. We were both free to meet at a little truck stop off the interstate, which might have been a clue for how things were going for both of us.

It turned out that Gar was really bright and talented, with unique skills in page layout, copywriting, editing and most everything related to magazine production – pretty much the same things I wanted to do. Gar was also a very shy guy. He performed under a protective shell, preferring not to speak to any stranger, particularly over the phone.

That didn’t stop me from attempting to extricate Gar from his shell, to force him to make sales calls on behalf of our fledgling company. Meanwhile, I muddled through the creative work Gar could perform so well. Not surprisingly, Gar was unable to leave his shell of shyness. The more I demanded he stick his head out and close a deal, the more he ducked it in to protect himself from what he felt was social rejection. Before long, my promising regional sports magazine went down the tubes.

Oddly, Gar and I stayed friends for many years. He became a big success at an advertising agency, gaining the recognition his creative talents deserved. My earlier experience with Gar taught me a valuable lesson for business and life. When possible, set individuals up to shine within their own comfort zones, inside the shells they have chosen to create.

Many tortoises live into their 150s and beyond. They know when they are ready to stick their heads out from their shells and risk the new and untested. It’s certainly not my job to hurry them along.