The Ant Philosophy

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | May 19, 2012

“If ants are such busy workers, how come they find time to go to all the picnics?”
Marie Dressler

In 1999 Jim Rohn presented a seminar titled “The Ant Philosophy” which captures a bit of the secret of his more than 40 year mega-success in both business and life.  When I first read his four-part philosophy, I knew it would one day make its way into one of my weekly columns.  So here it is.

Ants never quit.  If they are headed somewhere and you try to stop them, they will look for another way.  They will climb over.  They will climb under.  They will climb around.  They keep looking for another way. 

How easy it is to give up.  Life is filled with obstacles.  We can find enough reasons to stop any project on the first day.  What we must look for are reasons to keep going. Persistence to keep going may be one of the most critical qualities we must cultivate.  Ants never quit.  Nor should we.

Ants think winter all summer.   You can’t be so naïve as to think summer will last forever.  So ants gather their winter food in the middle of summer.  Ants know their short lives will have seasonal limitations and they must prepare for that or they will never survive.

Too many people only live for today.  They squander today’s resources as though there will be as many available tomorrow as there are today.  But famine and drought and recession and the unexpected breakdowns and losses eventually come our way.  And without reserves in place, setbacks can become permanent dead ends causing us never to reach our goals. Ants think winter all summer.  And so should we.

Ants think summer all winter.  During the winter ants remind themselves, “This won’t last long.  We will 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.

Ants have that perspective that looks beyond the cold and sacrifices of today knowing it will not last forever.  Spring always comes.  It is inevitable.  Sure, all time does not weigh the same.  An hour in the dentist’s chair does not weigh the same as an hour on vacation but even the hour in the dentist’s chair will come to an end. 

I think that is one of the values of getting older.  With time and experience we learn that the storms of life do pass.  The barren winter does give way to the tulips and daffodils and forsythia and dogwoods.  And even it is hard to see the fresh buds of spring when the temperature drops down and the snow piles up, any gardener knows it is just a matter of time.  Ants think summer in winter.  And so should we.

Ants do all they can.  How much will ants gather during the summer to prepare for winter?  All they possibly can.  Ants will never stop and rest on their accomplishments.  Their intentions are relentless.  They work hard.  They keep working.  Ants do all they can.  And so should we. 

What a great philosophy:  Never give up.  Look ahead.  Stay positive.  Do all that you can.  One person described how sad it must be to live one’s life with the sole objective to get to the weekends or to take vacations.  To live only for the parentheses must be an awful way to spend one’s life.  It must be more than that. 

No wonder Proverbs 6:6 states, “Go to the ant, you sluggard.”  Those little creatures have a message for all of us.  As the warm weather approaches we will begin seeing them everywhere.  When they show up at your next picnic and we are tempted to ask, “How did they get here”, it might be good to recall The Ant Philosophy of Jim Rohn.

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
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