Cooperation? Ask the Ants! (4)

Cooperation simply means joint operation. The word paints the picture of an activity that cannot be successfully or efficiently carried out alone. It describes the need for interdependence so that someone’s strength complements the weakness of another. Cooperation shifts the attention from a person to a group. Imagine a soccer player refusing to pass the ball to his teammates despite his inability to access the goalpost! Imagine a chorister singing off tune just to be noticed!

Collective output is always beautiful. We can learn the importance of cooperation from the ants. Research shows that ants are very successful insects because their strength lies not in individuals but in the organisation of their communities. Think of it; you never consider a single ant a threat. When you see a colony developing in your home, however, you feel compelled to get rid of it. Ants’ ability to coordinate is their greatest strength. A few benefits of cooperation we can learn from ants are:  

  1. Focus on the same objective: one of the major objectives of ants is to get food to their colony. When an ant is carrying a large chunk of food, it is surrounded by two or three others who either join in or take over when the ant is tired. When the goal is singular, failure is not an option. Most times, unfortunately, humans have too many divergent goals to truly cooperate.
  2. Selflessness: when ants find a food source, they mobilize their community without any sign of selfish interest. This is perhaps because they see their benefits totally integrated into the benefits of the colony.
  3. Willingness and Commitment: halfhearted participation is no cooperation. Ants are always ready to pursue the next opportunity and are usually relentless. It is better not to join a team than to be the weakest link.