WHAT CAN AN ANT TEACH ME? YOU ASK

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LESSONS YOU DON’T NEED TO PAY FOR.

By Nelson Ogallo.

A lifelong learner is a lifelong winner” says Matshona Dhliwayo. Generally, the easiest way to live life to the
fullest is to learn from others. Others’ past failures and accomplishments. However, more challenging is the call to take advice from someone who has not yet benefited from their own solutions, like a homeless man giving a talk on ‘how to be a billionaire’. You are likely to ignore a mad man’s advice by the street because his life does not reflect the usefulness of his advice.

A story is told of a man who went to a certain town and parked his car then went into a grocery to shop.
While shopping, a group of street boys came and attempted to remove the car wheels by loosening the lug
nuts from the wheel but luckily, he arrived in time as they fled leaving he wheels hanging. The gentleman
was shocked and was wondering what he’d do next because leaving his car to go and look for a mechanic or the lug nuts, meant that it would be exposed to more vandalism.

He kept walking round his vehicle, scratching his head for a solution until a mad man approached him and asked, “Why are you not leaving our town?” With a twinge of warning in his voice, the seemingly elite man answered the mad man, “Even if I tell you, do you think you can be of any help?” The mad man stood amazed but with an unlikely humility from someone of his nature, he answered, “Yes I can.” Though feeling uneasy to be assisted by a mad man,he decided to tell him for the sake of it,of course with zero expectation “One of my car wheels has all its lug nuts move with it the way it is because it will come off. I am wondering what to do.”

The mad man responded with a smile, “that’s simple”. Get a lug nut from each of the other three
wheels and use it to tighten this wheel and get moving until you get to the mechanic where you can
replace the one lug nut missing on each wheel”. Most likely as a professional, business man or an
entrepreneur, you have never imagined there could be lessons embedded in an ant’s life that can
spur your profession or career path but like the wisest King in the Bible, I implore you to; Go to the ant—–
consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provides her meat in the
summer and gathers her food in the harvest.

Ants though so small and seemingly useless on the surface, fall in to the successful category, and can teach us how they succeed time and again. If you think you know everything, there’s nothing else to learn, until you learn…you don’t know everything. There is a big gap between man and ant- a tiny insect, too tiny to be seen yet rich with a wide spectrum of knowledge on how we can grow our professions and businesses.

1. Ants are Driven by Purpose

In a chase between a lion and deer, many times a deer wins. Because a lion runs for food, and deer, for life.
Purpose is more important than food. By purpose I mean having a clear long-term objective or goal
which shapes everything you do in your profession or organization. For instance, one ant’s sole job description is to find food for the colony. This is his purpose, and all that he inputs his time and energy into, and so it compounds the chances of success for the whole colony of ants.

As a professional, besides the general objective of the organization you work for, or the business you
run, you need to set your personal achievable objectives that contribute to the success of the whole larger
body. Unless you are paid to respond to Facebook messages and twitter an hour, more important
activities should precede your level of engagement with social media. It is only fair that you minimize your
engagements with activities that draw you away from your focus. A purpose driven individual will achieve more as compared to one that works haphazardly and without a goal.

2. Ants work as a team.

Martin Luther King Junior in cognizant of the indispensable ability of unity in life said this; “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. Ants are team workers and work together to achieve something great. For you to achieve something substantial in life, you must align yourself with others who can help propel you to another level.

Our synergies are channels through which we build our not only ourselves but others too. Most successful organizations in the world know how needful it is to work as a team. Ants have an unbelievable spirit of unselfish unity. If they find out something eatable immediately they pass on the message to others. Shared success is sweeter than earning success as a lone ranger.

Why most vulnerable animals in the wild walk in groups is because they believe in the common phenomenon that we are better together. Everything an ant does is for the benefit of the colony and they will work until they are done. Almost on auto pilot each ant knows their duties and they do everything they can to get those duties completed. Some are tunneling, some are moving material and others are looking for food. If any of the ants is not working with the team it will be noticed. Be part of a team and you will reap big.

3. Ants have a time to rest and a time to work

Anna Louisa walker Coghill in 1886 understood the essence of time and wrote a poem entitled work for the
night is coming. In one of the stanzas she says;

Work, for the night is coming,

Work through the morning hours;

Work while the dew is sparkling,

Work ’mid springing flowers;

Work when the day grows brighter,

Work in the glowing sun;

Work, for the night is coming,

When man works no more.

Ants must work with the natural seasons. So, in summer they gather their food and in winter they
hibernate to conserve energy because of the lack of food. Like ants, you not only need to know
when to begin but also when to stop. Burnout is when you have come to the end of yourself and
suddenly give up and withdraw from all kinds of work. You’ve simply had enough. For this not to happen you need to schedule in periods of rest, especially after the completion of a major project. We have had cases in the recent past of people dozing off while giving presentations because they spent the entire night preparing reports to present before a panel.

The worst-case scenario is when man is led to cut short his life because of fear of scorn for not
having completed a task. All this boils down to the fact that there is need to work like ants. Naturally many people are active and productive in the wee hours of the morning than in the late night. It would be viable to know like ants when your summer is and when your winter is. This will help you spread your workload within your best seasons. The active nature of ants should attract us to be forewarned and active in time and know when to pull back and relax when worn out.

4. Ants think big
Now ants can seem like one of the most insignificance insects on the planet because of their size. But the
colonies they build and the contribution to their society is extremely significant and great. What big dreams do you have for your future? Pursue those. No matter how small you think you are, you should always pursue something bigger than yourself. Ants are not scared of heavy tasks, but rather take pleasure in lifting these objects to their colony. If we don’t look at how big a task is, we would easily accomplish tasks that seemed insurmountable. Though you may not have the best of abilities, you better think big like ants.

5. Ants are persistent

Whenever an obstacle is placed in the way of Ants, they always find a way round such obstacles. Napoleon
said, “Victory belongs to the persistent” We must never give up so easily in the face of obstacles. There are many obstacles in life that must be overcome. As long as you keep trying you will get past whatever is blocking your path. Failing to achieve your objectives is not fatal but an opportunity to amend where you did not do your best. Try till you can try no more and you will make it through.

6. Ants are well-organized

There are three kinds of ants in a colony: workers, queen, and males. Each kind of ant does a different job.
They are so well organized, that they carry out their entire task through division of labor. Nothing is left undone in the Ant colony, because of the well-organized structure, which has already been put in place. This is a serious lesson for individuals who are not organized. For the success of your business entity, you must be organized in all aspects of your work. The essence of departments in an organization is to have
individuals contribute their efforts where they are best suited. By having everyone everywhere, we are bound to fail big time.

7. Ants have an amazing sense of discipline

The sense of discipline among ants is amazing. Without a mistake they march one after another in a line.
How pleasant is their marching sight! Without any dispute or accident, they move about in order. Think of man’s spirit of division. Everywhere in life he finds loopholes to divide. He is more interested in division than in unity.

Without a supervisor behind them ants do the right thing because they value doing right. In our spheres of influence either in organizations we work for or in our own businesses, we must endeavor to be disciplined even without a third eye keeping watch over us. Those balancing books, those approving payments and tenders etc. must apply self-discipline as applied by ants. Ants don’t jump the line; they follow patiently until their turn comes. Watching ants at work and play is amazing for us.

The lessons from these tiny ants are great challenges for modern humanity. The lessons they teach should lead us to enlightenment and unity. They should enable us to handle the resources of nature very seriously. Follow them and you will succeed!!! Ants make the most of every opportunity. The problem is that many people live their lives without taking advantage of their opportunities.

Nelson Ogallo is a regular columnist with the Accountant Journal ogallonelson@gmail.com

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