An ant, with great effort, was dragging a portion of a leaf several times its size towards its home, a small hole in the ground. On the way, it came across a small crack – a crevasse for its size – on the ground. Unable to find a way to go across, the ant stopped. It stayed there for a while trying different things, but couldn’t find a way. Eventually, after several attempts to find a way around, it put the leaf on the crack and walked over it to cross over to the other side.
After crossing the crack, it resumed its journey and soon reached the hole. What happens next frustrates it. It tries to force the leaf through the hole, but the opening wasn’t large enough to let the leaf through. It tried for a while, but eventually gave up and dropped the leaf near the hole.
Have you experienced the ant story?
Sometimes, you set a process rolling without anticipating potential hurdles (you can’t anticipate all the hurdles, but certainly can the obvious ones), and either waste entire effort or achieve much less than expected. For example:
You start building, say, a robot for your school project and when you’re half way through, you realize that one of the key, non-negotiable component is not readily available in the local market. And given the deadline, there isn’t enough time to wait three days to get it from somewhere else.
If you had known this in the beginning, you could’ve chosen another project or you could’ve procured it in time
Exam day. You rush through the instructions on the first page and complete the test (multiple-choice type) to satisfaction. But after coming out of the test centre, you realize that the test penalized wrong answers with negative marks.
You missed the instruction! Otherwise, you would’ve been more restrained in your guesswork
Ant as a species, of course, is not evolved enough to have first done a reconnaissance before deciding to pick the leaf. But we human beings are. Yet, how often do we jump on to something without a thought, without a plan and then face leaf-hole mismatch?
If adverse consequences, if any, of lack of such planning are limited, it’s still fine. But what if the consequences are heavy?
What if after entering the college, you realize that you could’ve taken Advanced Placement classes for college credits and reduced your debt burden.
What if you ignored extracurricular activities in school, and after few years their absence in your resume weakens your application to colleges.
A little pause, a little foresight can help.
Learn to pause before you jump (or, sometimes, not jump) into something, and try anticipating problems, at least the obvious ones.
However, this doesn’t mean you become overly cautious and pessimist. Just be more mindful.
Question: Have you been through an ant-experience? Leave your comment in the space below.
Photo credit: Looking out at the Puget Sound