Specialisation? Ask the Ants! (9)

To specialise means to become more focused on an area of activity or to become more specific and suitable for a special purpose. You are considered to be a specialist when you acquire skills, ability, knowledge and experience unique to an area. It is good to be able to do several things well but it is far better to be able to do a few things or even a single thing excellently.

Success in any area in life always requires a niche. There are hundreds of thousands of people doing the same job but only the few exceptional ones stand out. To be exceptional requires exceptional efforts and that doesn’t come by trying your hand on every job or business that comes your way. When I mention the names of some outstanding people such as Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein and Michael Jackson, a specific picture comes to your mind. That picture is their niche and that is why they are unforgettable.

Ants have great wisdom when it comes to specialisation. Scientists consider the grass-cutter ants the most complex of all ant states because of their level of specialisation. The first specialists among these ants are the cutter ants. They do nothing but to cut through tough leaves. The second specialists are the transport ants. They move the chopped stems to the ant colony. Here’s why you need to specialise like the ants:

  1. Maximize your strength: cutter ants have strong muscles and jaws while transport ants have lighter build appropriate for running. Imagine what happens if each one desires the role of the other. When you specialise, you focus on your area of strength and you get stronger. You can’t win by doing part-time what your competitors do full-time.
  2. Make your experience count: through experience, cutter ants instinctively measure the length of the cut section for easy movement while the transport ants carry the stems for 50 metres and deposit them for the next relay of transporters. Compare someone who worked five unconnected jobs in five years with one who maintained the same line of job for the same period even if he changed employers. The former will have one year of experience in five different areas while the latter will have five combined years of experience. If you know experience counts, you will treat your current job differently. The more experienced you are, the more valuable you become. Don’t merely pass time.