One of my mentors, Jim Rohn, has often told the story of The Ant Philosophy. It’s an intriguing four-part story that lays out, in simplistic terms, what every human being can learn from these tiny, industrious creatures.
Today, I want to take you on a little deeper journey into this story to show you how it can impact both your business and personal life forever.
The first lesson from the story is that ants never quit. As a kid, I remember playing on the sidewalk in front of my grandmother’s house in western Pennsylvania. My friends and I often watched industrious black ants as they went about their business. Try as we might, we could not dissuade these tiny creatures from their destinations. If we put something, any kind of obstacle, in their way, they always found a way around, over, or under the obstacle and always got themselves back on course. For them, failure was not an option!
What about you? If you own a business, what about your employees? Have you set the “never quit” example for everyone in your personal and business circles? Do they have the combination of belief and drive to stay focused on a goal? On a daily basis, do you, and they, systematically remove the obstacles in your way and continue marching forward until your goals are reached?
The second lesson is this: ants think winter all summer. They instinctively know that summer won’t last forever. As a result, they gather food for the winter during the summer. They plan ahead!
In the economic recession of 2008 and 2009 here in the United States, how many personal fortunes were lost as people saw their investment portfolios evaporate when the stock market plunged from 14,000 to 8,500? How many businesses closed their doors forever because they didn’t have an emergency fund to keep them afloat?
Everything we do, both personally and in business, has to contain three critical ingredients:
- We have to focus on and live in the present;
- We have to look back and learn lessons from the past;
- We have to look toward and plan for the future.
Like the ants, we have to think winter all summer.
The third important lesson we learn from the ants is that ants think summer all winter. They know that summer is coming and that the food supply they have won’t last forever. They look expectantly for the first warm days of spring so that they can get out, get back to work, and start gathering food again.
I was self-employed in 2008 when the recession hit. I knew that it was coming sooner or later, and I watched as the economic summer sky faded into the cold darkness of winter. Fortunately, I had gathered “food” to last me through the recession and I used the time wisely – to begin planning for the future. I knew exactly what I was going to do when the “warm weather” of the fertile economic environment returned once again. As a result, I survived and my business prospered.
How did your business, or the company you work for, fare during those lean years? Did you survive and thrive? Or did you go through several years of nail biting as you wondered, both on a personal and business level, if you were going to make it?
The final element of the ant philosophy is contained in the words all you can. During the summer gathering process, an ant never says, “That’s enough. I’ve got all I need. Time to relax by the pool and have a beer.” The ant works tirelessly, from the first warm day of spring until the first snow, gathering all that he possibly can. That mentality is wired into his system. He would never think of doing anything less.
Once again, what about you? Do you have a gather all you possibly can philosophy? Have you instilled that value in your family members, your co-workers, and your employees? Are you helping both yourself and others reach levels of success and prosperity that will allow them to live securely and to weather any storms that lie ahead?
What a great philosophy the ants have:
- Never give up
- Always plan for the future
- Stay positive and work hard
- Do all that you possibly can
Sounds like a great formula for personal and business success, doesn’t it?
© 2013 Gary L. Smith. All rights reserved.