When I need a real inspiration, I look at nature. Nature is amazing, real, wonderful, well designed and in harmony than man-made things.
I look at animals, I look at flowers, I look at plants I even sometimes look at people. From nature I draw great stuff, great inspiration and great insights.
For a few days now, I have been thinking about safari ants. Safari ants have taught me very big lessons. Among them is never to turn back, if faced by an obstacle, either climb it, go around it, but do not turn back. Keep going.
Safari ants are also known as army ants, driver ants or siafu in Kiswahili. They are very small insects found in tropics particularly in East Africa and Central Africa. They are four legged, blackish brown in colour. They mostly live in an anthill.
Army ants are divided into four classes, the queen (female ant that has the full reproductive capacity), worker (any female ant that lacks the full reproductive capacity), drones (male) and soldier. Soldiers have a big head and pincer-like mandibles.
When the food in their hill dwindles, ants leave that hill to look for food.
Strangely, an army ant never moves alone. Instead ants move in large groups, sometimes of up to 100m ants.
In the course of their movement, ants do not have a well designed roads or paths to follow. They design their own pathways. Ants are designers and architects of their own roads.
The ants move in very long and sometimes crooked columns. The soldiers build walls so that the weak ones can move in the middle of the column. The soldiers keep their mandibles wide open to ensure they bite any intruder.
Unfortunately, if an ants bite, they do not release the grip even after the ant’s body is severed from the head. It is better for an ant to die rather than leave the intruder.
When I was a child, we used to stop on the road and try to intercept the ants from moving towards a certain direction. However, despite our concerted efforts, ants never turned back.
Actually ants never turn back even if they find an obstacle.
If the find a wall they climb it, if they find a rock, they go around it, if they find a river, they go along it. So in the mind of ants, there is no plan B of turning back.
When the ants reach their destination they build another ant hill. Each of the class of ants play a specific role to ensure they live in harmony and achieve intended objective.
Below are 11 lessons we can learn from ants.
1. You are inadequate but you can still make it
Ants are very small but they are sometimes a real menace to humans. If they invade a house they wreck havoc to the occupants especially at night.
You may think that you are not good enough. You may be thinking that you are not like so and so. This is the time to move on. Use what you have-remember moses of the bible and the rod. Do not wait until you have amassed big qualifications or fat accounts. It is time to make it within your limitations.
Like ants, you may be small but you are equipped to make it.
2. Design the path of your life
Get your life out of autopilot, direct it. Be an architect of your life.
Small insects like ants can design their roads; we should also design our life. Live according to your convictions. Follow your dreams and passion. Do not do what the society demands of you, if you feel it is not inline with your convictions.
3. Be a team player
You will not achieve much alone. Join hands and be a team player. For sure you will get somewhere alone, but if you are two or more you will get very far.
Lonely ants never get far, mostly they are trampled on and they die. A group of ants reach their intended destination.
If you are single, think of marrying. Generally couples do well than singles.
If you are embarking on business, think of partnership or a company. For sure as sole proprietor you will enjoy profits lone, but as a company you have a chance of large pool of capital and ideas.
Look at the richest men in the world. Bill Gates founded Microsoft with Paul Allen. Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were students at Stanford. Apple computers were founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
Always two or more are better than one.
4. Never turn back
Perhaps you are experiencing a very discouraging moment in your life or you have hit a wall.
It is not the time to turn back and give up. Either climb the wall, go around it but do not turn back. It is time to surmount the obstacle.
Be an army ant. It is better to die trying to maneuver than to surrender to fate.
5. Give a helping hand
If you are the strongest in the society, please offer some help to the weak.
Your strength might be financial, special skill, academic achievement or just a talent. Use your ability to benefit the less advantaged. I normally say that ‘ability is like manure, you either spread it or it will start to stink.’
Learn from soldier ants to offer help to the weak ants.
6. Play your part
Now you feel very proud that I have suggested that the endowed should help the weak.
I know you regard yourself as weak; therefore you should be looked after. That’s very good; however, you have to play your role.
If you are a ‘worker ant’ play your role. Refrain from blaming the ‘soldiers’ for not doing their work when you are forfeiting your responsibility.
7. Leave your cocoon
Leave your comfort zone. Do what inspires you. Do what you love to do. Go after your dreams.
Army ants never stick in the comfort anthill when they realize things are not working anymore. They hit the road. They declare war. They move on.
Ants leave the harbour of known to the unknown. They move with great determination such that they do not turn back. Ants have to find a better location by all means.
8. Do not let go until the problem is solved
When you attack a problem, do not just go skin deep. Go to the roots. Eliminate it completely.
Army ants, bite the intruder really painfully.
Face that procrastination really seriously.
Attack gossiping seriously. Quit that habit of laying blames.
Ensure vices in your life are eliminated.
Like ants, once you bite the problem, do not let go. It is better to die than to give up. Do whatever is possible to solve it.
9. Take small steps
My brother always tells me that ants can eat a whole elephant. Sure enough, if ants find a carcass of an elephant, they can finish it.
Although ants are very small they finish an elephant by many small bites.
Similarly, attack that goal by accomplishing small steps at a time.
Save 1k a month and you will have a big savings cumulatively.
Read one verse in a bible everyday, before long you will have read the whole bible.
Do a good deed to another person each day. Touch a single heart a day. Smile to one of your `enemies’ every day.
10. Step by step
Are you feeling as if your life is dragging? Do you feel as if it is taking forever to reach your goal?
Do not panic provided you are making small steps to get you to the coveted destination.
Remember army ants normally travel at a very low speed of about 20 meters an hour. This is a very slow speed, probably than that of your life but surprising enough, they get to the intended destination.
Do not be discouraged by your speed of a tortoise, keep going, you are nearing the finishing line.
We know you are supposed to be a millionaire by now. However, somehow, somehow you are not. Keep going, do what millionaires do, you will get there eventually.
11. After failing, get up and move on
Eunice has reminded me of this important characteristic of ants. If you disrupt the column of ants, they remain disorganised for a very short time. Within no time; they make a line again and build a column and move on.
This tells you not to remain in a mess forever. If you fall or make a mistake, shake off the dust, Learn the lesson, organise yourself and move on.
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