Lessons from the Ants – Part 1
Change or Die
by Sharon Flemings

Change is a hard thing for humans, and evidently ants are no different. The first day of “ant season” this year, brought thousands of ants streaming in one of my upper story windows. They came into the house from the far corner of the room, went along the corner of the wall and ceiling the full length of the room, down the door jamb, across the floor of the breakfast nook, and up the wall to the kitchen counter. From there, they seemed to spread in two directions, although I never did figure out exactly what they were after. (Maybe the countertops were just nice and cool!).

After a lot of vacuuming, I finally figured out that the ants were coming in through a gap in the seal of the window glass. A quick trip to the garage produced a tube of caulking, and off I went – sealing the corner of the window. Well, don’t you know, a little while later they were coming in the opposite corner (yes, I know, I should have looked for a hole there, too). So, out came the caulk again, and life was good until the next morning.

Day two brought ants from the same window, and following the same trail to the kitchen. You see, the ants were a little deterred but found another entry point just a little further over from the first (and now sealed) spot. Yes, they were persistent and diligent; however, I knew where they were going because they followed the exact same trail as the day before. So, out came the vacuum and in short order, the ants were gone.

On the third day, the ants found a different window from which to enter – this one closer to the breakfast nook, and they used the same place of entry in the window as on day one (predictable). Further, they followed the same path as the previous two days, so I knew exactly how to take care of them. Day four brought the ants in through yet another gap in the windows – this time a small hole in the frame itself. Guess what? They followed the same path to the kitchen again.

After these four days, it certainly feels like I personally disposed of every ant in southern California. (I know it’s not true, as there are still some in my garden.) The lesson I learned from the experience is, that we need to change. As painful as it might be, change is inevitable. But, we do have a choice in how we approach change – we can resist or we can embrace the change.

Resistance rarely works. It drains us of our energy and motivation, and affects our morale and that of those around us. Ultimately, change is going to “get us”, so it’s up to us to decide (and control) how we are affected. The ants in my house refused to change their path, but persisted in following each other down the same path, day after day. The predictability allowed me to know exactly where to look for them every day – even when I was still half asleep. How does being predictable negatively affect us or our companies?  It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. Are you insane?

Embracing change, as risky and uncertain as it is, allows us a sort of freedom. It affords us the opportunity to learn and grow and in turn, new experiences give us new insights which can serve as a catalyst for new ways of thinking. Perhaps we will discover a new way to perform our work. Maybe a new product idea will be discovered. The whole change process can be energizing and even exhilarating. It is important to remember; however, that changing the starting point and following the same trail is not really change. Stretch yourself – follow a different path.

Be bold – embrace change. Empower yourself to go in a new direction.

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