Business Lessons from the Ant & Grasshopper Fable

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The Goose with the Golden Eggs, The Hare and the Tortoise, The Hunter and the Woodman…Many childhood memories share the echo of Aesop’s fables. His animals assumed starring roles to guide young minds along moral journeys and proffer worldly advice. The tales were meant for children, yet most of them serve adults, as well. The Ant and the Grasshopper is one such tale.

To refresh stale memories, The Ant and the Grasshopper tells the story of judicious ants who had planned and prepared for the coming winter and a lackadaisical grasshopper who begged the ants for food after he had wasted his summer frolicking rather than prepping.

Four Lessons to Heed from The Ant and the Grasshopper:
1. Planning is Paramount

Often busy business leaders feel they do not have time to plan, thinking that taking time away from other impending tasks will put them behind. Though you’re not squandering time away playing music like Aesop’s grasshopper, the result is the same. Waiting until an issue or event is imminent isn’t the time to tend to it, for then it may be too late – “winter” may already be upon you.

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Planning gives direction; it helps define goals and detect actionable tasks necessary to achieve those goals. The planning process also works to reveal potential roadblocks that could be mitigated readily with such forethought.

Whether used for budgets, business continuity, cybersecurity, incident response, etc., plans help advance control, predictability, and mitigation for any organization. Such preparedness will ensure your business will withstand difficult times without disastrous consequences.

2. Manage Your Time Wisely

When you get caught up in the here and now, you risk losing hours, days, weeks, on minutia and other non-urgent duties. The grasshopper was so busy playing music that he did not realize summer had chilled into winter. Only when hunger and cold gripped him did he realize his predicament.

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To ensure you are doing the right things at the right time, you must pay attention to how you manage your time. Promoting time-management skills in your business can improve overall productivity, enhance your services and product quality, relieve stress in the workplace, and effect a better work/life balance. When employees are more productive, feel greater satisfaction, and produce high-quality goods and services, the culminating benefit comes to your profit margin.

3. Teamwork Works

Ants bear a long standing as an archetype of organized, effective teamwork, as Aesop so demonstrates. When people work together in an organized fashion, they can accomplish great things – more so than a solitary grasshopper consumed only in his own interests.

Occasionally, some leaders feel compelled to participate in minor decisions and processes but failing to delegate reasonable tasks can often clog the system. Those who fear delegating work or sharing responsibility should instead try embracing it; understand that sharing the workload facilitates efficiency and builds trust and confidence amongst employees and their leaders.

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4. Your Failures Do Not Oblige Others to Favors

Take responsibility. You alone are liable for your success…and your failures. Aesop’s grasshopper expected the ants to share their food. But even though the ants may have had a bit of food to spare, they felt no obligation to help the grasshopper, feeling that he was the careless conductor of his own misfortune.

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If you flounder, do not assume others can - or will - come to your rescue. Plan to manage the consequences of your mistakes and setbacks as yours and no one else’s. 

Conclusion

The Ant and the Grasshopper’s morals should echo in every business leader’s strategies and actions: planning, time management, and teamwork will help you more readily achieve your goals, and your success and shortcomings are your responsibility.


Swadeck Taher OSK is a Chartered Accountant (ICAEW) and a Chartered Marketer (CIM) running businesses and coaching, consulting, mentoring CEOs and entrepreneurs ranging from startups through family businesses to established top 100 companies in Mauritius. He enjoys sharing the expertise he developed over the last thirty years at senior leadership/directorship level with his clients, business partners and other budding entrepreneurs.

Swadeck is also a GTD Practitioner and a Certified GTD Trainer. He helps others experience what the Productive Experience feels like and how they too can savour stress free productivity.

Sakeenah Co Ltd is the only Certified International Partner of the David Allen Company in Mauritius.

GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company.

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