What I Learned from Watching Ants Devour a Cockroach

Blog Post 54 What I Learned from Ants

Photo courtesy of Samantha Henneke and www.flickr.com.

Many years ago when I lived in Atlanta, one of my coworkers and I became good friends. Our offices were located in a classic 80’s office building. It had one story. Covered breezeways joined the different buildings. Brick planters, many with half-dead plants, were placed at regular intervals with wood-slatted benches stained a golden oak color that had faded with age and weather.

One time when we came back from lunch, we noticed a disturbance on top of the brick lining one of the planters. We stopped for a closer look. Lo and behold, an army of ants had stumbled upon the ultimate meal: a large, dead cockroach.

It fascinated us. Here were these ants (I’m not sure of the variety), that worked tirelessly to gain a meal that could feed the entire colony. I think we watched the whole scene for about ten minutes before we finally returned to our desks.

I kept thinking about those ants that stumbled upon good fortune and what we could learn from them. Here’s a list I put together so long ago and sent to my friend:

  1. When a task is too big to handle, divide it.
  2. Keep working until the task is done, especially if it involves food.
  3. Working together is essential.
  4. Sometimes traveling really long distances for some quality dining is good.
  5. Get excited about what you do.
  6. Don’t let distractions pull you away from your job.
  7. Looking at a problem from all angles encourages creativity.
  8. Getting a breakthrough on a problem can lead to some really juicy material.
  9. Working at a huge task in a team is better than working alone.
  10. Working a problem a little at a time is better than trying to tackle the whole thing at once.

When I married and transferred to another office out of state, my friend faxed me a copy of that e-mail.  Today, as I read those words sent so long ago (September 20, 2002), a smile crossed my face. You see, that day almost thirteen years ago, was the day before I was laid off from that particular job. I needed a light moment back then.

I still need it sometimes, not just for the laughs but to remind me that in many cases, I don’t walk alone. Not at my day job, not even in writing, and certainly not in life.

If you’re feeling alone, find something someone sent you that made you smile, even laugh. Pull it out and look at it. Keep it handy. Reread it when you need it. Let the person who sent it to you know how much it lifted your spirits.

Me? I’m e-mailing my friend tonight and letting her know how much I appreciated that message that came at a much needed time.

And then?

I think I’ll put that fax up on my door at work to give everyone else a good laugh.

This post does not mention any products. Therefore, I am not receiving any compensation for writing this post. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Get in on the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1 Comment

    The Conversation

  1. KT Sweet says:

    Hi Jen, appreciate the positive learning from a rather grisly moment. 😉 I was drawn to the post’s title while inwardly cringing at the possibilities. Instead, I enjoyed your ‘takeaways’! No writing is ever wasted.