One of my favorite college memories was a simple few moments in time on a lazy, meandering Sunday afternoon with my friend Mary Beth. We were enjoying a leisurely walk between Thompson Woods and Morris Library on the campus of my alma mater, Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. We had no plan other than to enjoy ourselves and each other, as much as we possibly could.
We came upon a parade of industrious ants marching along the expansion crack of the concrete sidewalk; there were thousands, probably millions of ants. Since our purpose was meandering anyway, we decided to split up and trace the origination and destination of the parade (we lost their trail deep in the woods and, unfortunately, at the exterior wall of the library – save the books!).
Ants have a singularity of purpose. Being college students, we didn’t, so we decided to mess with theirs. We dropped a small rock in the middle of the ant parade and watched them scatter. Such Godlike power we had! Soon, though, the ants collected themselves, rerouted and were right back on purpose. We, of course, continued our meander, somehow delighted with our ant encounter.
Oh, to be as focused as an ant! This morning, my long-time client, Dave Drook, reminded me of this “Philosophy of Ants” originated by the late great Jim Rohn.
The Ant Philosophy
by Jim Rohn
I think everybody should study ants. They have an amazing four-part philosophy.
Here is the first part: ants never quit.
That’s a good philosophy. If they’re headed somewhere and you try to stop them, they’ll look for another way. They’ll climb over, they’ll climb under, they’ll climb around. They keep looking for another way. What a neat philosophy, to never quit looking for a way to get where you’re supposed to go.
Second, ants think winter all summer.
That’s an important perspective. You can’t be so naïve as to think summer will last forever. So ants are gathering their winter food in the middle of summer.
The third part of the ant philosophy is that ants think summer all winter.
That is so important. During the winter, ants remind themselves, “This won’t last long—we’ll soon be out of here.” And the first warm day, the ants are out. If it turns cold again, they’ll dive back down, but then they come out the first warm day. They can’t wait to get out.
And here’s the last part of the ant philosophy. “all-you-possibly-can”.
How much will an ant gather during the summer to prepare for the winter? All he possibly can. What an incredible philosophy, the “all-you-possibly-can” philosophy.
What a great philosophy to have – the ant philosophy.
Never give up, look ahead, stay positive and do all you can.