One of the things I like most about nature is that it has a way of aptly describing some of the most profound principles that guide human life and existence. Principles such as Focus for example.
Even a cursory look at the outdoors reveals many ethics and conventions that are hiding in plain sight; ethics and conventions that are imperative for success.
These principles of success are apparent to all who will take even a desultory look.
I remember growing up and how I used to marvel at lines of ants transporting food from place to place. The level of focus they would show as they moved in unbroken lines heading toward their target. I would see how an insect or small animal would be dismembered with success within minutes by hordes of ants who would instantaneously transfer each bit to other ants through the line until it disappeared through one hole or the other.
I would see how those ants will give their complete focus and attention to the unfortunate prey as they ripped it apart with unwavering accuracy before carrying a portion of the booty and disappearing through a crevice.
I am told that an ant has 250,000 brain cells. It sounds like very much till you compare it with the number of brain cells the average human being is said to have- 10,000,000,000. This would mean it would take something like the brain capacity of a colony of 40,000 ants to produce the equivalent in one human being.
They obviously don’t have the mental capacity of a person but they still have enough sense to know to prepare for the future by investing and working today. They have enough sense to know that everyday is not summer and that one day winter will come, and with this knowledge they focus on accomplishing their objective.
I never saw an ant standing on one spot
I never saw an ant spending more time than was appropriate in interactions with other ants…it was almost always that silent conversation, “Oh, hello, how do you do? See you…” and he was off.
Ants have no rulers or guides, they have very little bureaucracy, and do not have many board meetings, yet they are able to accomplish a lot and prepare for moments of lack with success because of their unbridled diligence, focus and immense foresight. That one tiny ant you could just crush if you stepped on is said to be able to carry anywhere between ten to fifty times it’s weight. Think about a man who weighed 70 kilos carrying weights between 700 and 3,500 kilograms.
Ants also wear a natural armored suit. I understand that scientists call the hard, outer shell of an ant “chitin.” This armor is designed to protect them from a hostile environment and contribute to their strength. In a world where “wolves” will gobble anyone who shows vulnerability and weakness this is something we must learn from the ant. Life won’t give you an easy ride, and there is an abundance of mean people all ready to take advantage of those that lag behind the herd. The ant shows us how tough we must be if we will not only adapt to but also overcome a world which is largely belligerent and postures itself in a way inimical to any show of fragility or enervation. If we will make a success of our lives and endeavors there are one or two things we can learn from this little creature.
In just observing ants one can see how judiciously they use any opportunities that open up to them and just how resourceful they are, never letting anything go to waste.
The unfortunate insect or small animal that falls and remains in a place will have only moments before an ant sniffs it out and sends word to its companions. With untrammeled focus the ants will come in droves and pick apart their prey until there is absolutely nothing left.
In the observation of their general lifestyle one can delineate these principles that are so critical that they are fundamental to the very term success.
Another creature worth our observing is the locust. We can learn a lot from this insect on success and the principles that undergird it. Locusts are leaderless insects but they strip the field like an army regiment.
A single locust is hardly noticeable. In fact, by itself, a locust is harmless and insignificant. But when locusts travel together they become an entirely different proposition.
This principle of “joint effort” is described in the Bible in Ecclesiastes 4:9. The writer tells us that “two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.” In other words, there is strength in numbers.
The modern world refers to this phenomenon as “synergy” and many have used the following equation to define or express this concept:
1 + 1 + 1 = 4
With synergy, the sum of the parts is greater than the individual parts alone.
I will digress a bit…
I remember seeing a piece where wild geese and their behavioral patterns were being assessed; I was made to understand that a flock of geese in formation will fly 75% further than a single goose would.
I am also told that where the average donkey has the ability to pull two tons of weight alone two donkeys yoked together have the capacity to pull twenty two tons of weight.
That is the geometric progression that synergy offers.
Success is a product of several factors, and one of them is synergy.
You might have heard the popular adage, “No one’s an island,” if we will apply what we learn from the locusts and every other one of the animals we have mentioned it will be easy to accomplish very much, attain success, and get the best out of this short window we call life.
Another creature that gets my attention is the spider.
Spiders are phenomenal creatures. I have never seen any physical location so intimidating that they would not be able to make an audacious attempt to string together a web in. They will spin it in a shanty, and will not pass up the opportunity to do so in a palace.
For a spider every situation, every place, every environment is the same. The spider doesn’t seem to think there is any location he is undeserving of, give him the slightest opportunity and you can rest assured he will maximize it.
Watching a T.V interview of Zhang Xin, the 50 year old billionaire real estate mogul and the richest woman in China, who was born in extreme poverty in rural China the spider came to my mind.
When asked what one thing she would advise anyone who intended to toe her path to success she said, “When you see an opportunity, grab it.”
This seems to be how the spider thinks.
One other thing I like about the spider is the fact that it engages only on its own terms. The spider can trap insects and other animals that are between four and five times its weight. It does this and immobilizes its prey before, depending on the specie of spider, liquifying it.
The spider does not do this by allowing its prey dictate the terms of engagement, it does this by determining the terms of engagement; bringing its prey into its web. When it does this it fights from a position of strength and not from one of weakness.
This should be how we approach life if we want to make a success of it.
Face adversities and situations with boldness and use that knowledge and skill that is available to you.
In a sense, when I think of the spider I remember a quote from George Bernard Shaw.
He said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world, the unreasonable man adapts the world to himself. For this reason, all change is dependent on the unreasonable man.”
I find that people who will live a fulfilled life and have the level of success they intend to will have to live their lives bucking the trend.
To be outstanding we must be ready to stand out from the crowd, and to stand out we must be willing to do what the crowd is unwilling to. We must take the road less travelled and swim against the tide of public opinion.
One thing that is consistent with everyone of the aforementioned creatures is their focus.
There is no discount on the price tag of success