A Life Lesson Learned From An Ant–The Value of Perseverance

A s a former Camp Cheerio camper, I intentionally signed up to take courses for ease and pleasure—nothing too strenuous. However, in a weak moment, I signed up for a course in riflery. (yes… that would be the shooting of a loaded gun!) The course was designed to test our perseverance and endurance levels. We had to lie on our stomachs for one solid hour a day for two weeks and shoot at a target that consisted of large, black dots. Or as we marksmen prefer to call “Bulls’ Eyes!”

I probably fired (with confidence) the rifle a hundred times per session aimed directly at the bulls’ eyes. I was certain that I would be the next Annie Oakley, as I shot with confidence day after day. The instructor presented us with our targets at the end of the two weeks. Much to my surprise and dismay, it seems I had only hit the target a total of….2 times! I’ll do the math for you—that’s once a week. Pardon the pun, but at least I gave it a “shot” or many, many, many shots. The more pertinent question is: Would I have continued on with perseverance, if I had known that I was a failure at shooting a loaded rifle?

We can never expect to accomplish anything without risk of failure. However, we can reap the rewards from the “I think I can” spirit and attitude while gaining a sense of satisfaction for having at least made the attempt. Perseverance has great paybacks, if we have the patience and willingness to accept the possibility of failure. We can learn a lot about perseverance and work ethic from ants. Some ants can carry fifty times their weight marathon distances. If we could match this strength, it would be equivalent to a hundred pound person carrying a small car several miles.

One of my college friends made her determined decision our senior year that she was going to work for a well-known company selling their equipment. She interviewed countless times and was turned down repeatedly face to face and by formal letters. It never dampened her spirits, however, and she continued to seek more interviews with this same company. The executives finally realized that she had the kind of tenacity for which they were looking. She was offered the job and she quickly rose in the company, eventually becoming their regional sales manager and top employee. She “thought she could”…and she did!

Thomas Edison attempted and failed thousands of times to make the electric light bulb illuminate. He said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve identified 10,000 ways this doesn’t work.” Humor combined with perseverance is even more profound.

Abraham Lincoln was a failure as a business man and a farmer. He had a nervous breakdown and then went on to fail at his first attempt at political office. When he was elected to the legislature, he failed when he ran for the office of speaker. He failed in his first attempt to go to Congress and the United States Senate. He did not get the nomination for the vice-presidency in 1856. He was defeated for the U.S. Senate once again. At long last, he was finally elected to the presidency in 1860. Lincoln is considered to be one of our country’s greatest and most humane presidents. That’s pretty good for a man with a biography of failures—perseverance at its best.

In 1955, Washington State played football against San Jose State in high winds and a temperature of zero. There was only one persevering fan in attendance. It makes one wonder what it was about this one fan’s character that made him/her willing to sit unflaggingly in spite of the circumstances. This is a perfect example of true grit and undaunted commitment.

The chances are good that this loyal fan had to have been Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, or my college friend. More than likely, however, I suspect it was an ant.

Hunter Darden-order personalized copies of my books by scrolling to the top of the page and clicking on the link or email me at hunterdarden@gmail.com.

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About Hunter

Hunter has been living her dream of being an author after falling in love with the Nancy Drew Mysteries in the fourth grade. She has incorporated her love for words along with her psychology degree from Meredith College to create books that can be aids in healthy nourishment for the mind. She is the author of five children's books, a photography book and a novel. She has been a human interest columnist for The Charlotte Observer (2001-2005) as well. She was the recipient of the "50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading" by The Author's Show, the Meredith College Career Achievement Alumnae Award and the Excellence in Creative Writing Award by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. She is a public speaker and teaches a writing camp for kids called Writer's Cramp Camp. (The animated art on this blog is provided by http://www.appleanimation.com)
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