Avoiding the 'Army Ant' Mentality

Updated: Oct 10, 2019

Army ants are fascinating. They can lift 20 times their body weight, they hear by feeling vibrations in the ground, and they leave pheromone trails so others in their colony know where they have been. Yet despite their incredible abilities, these ants have one major downfall: blindly following.

Unlike most other ant species, army ants are blind. They must instinctively follow the ant in front of them—linked together like a chain—during migrations and foraging. The first ant in line leaves a pheromone trail for the rest to follow. If the link gets broken, the ants will scramble. They’ll follow each other’s pheromones, marching in circles, until they die of exhaustion.

Who knew ants and humans have so much in common? Think about it: someone with a brilliant vision and profound abilities can run the risk of perishing by blindly following the masses. By prioritizing trends versus what’s in their heart. They’ll wither on the inside as the uniqueness of their voice, mind, story and vision die.

I know it sounds dramatic, but it’s true. This is exactly why so many brands have downsized over the years: Toys R Us, Subway, J.C. Penney, Claire’s. None of these companies’ products became irrelevant—they did. They failed to distinguish themselves in their increasingly competitive markets. They blindly followed—be it their own outdated model or what they thought was the “in” thing to do—and they paid dearly.

In life, it’s so easy to be an army ant. We put the blinders up and follow certain ways of thinking either because we believe that’s what’s expected of us or we’re afraid to venture off on our own. Yet this mentality seriously threatens personal and professional development. It hinders positive change and creativity. It prevents us from tapping into our most profound abilities and becoming our best selves.

So, let me remind you of some universal truths today:

  • Success almost always happens the way we never think it will

  • Individuality is your greatest weapon

  • Do what makes you happy, period

  • Your “best self” is your most authentic self. Because there’s only ONE you.

  • You have a story worth telling. You have a vision worth executing. No one else will see it the way you do, and no one else can share it how you can.

It’s never a bad thing to follow in someone’s footsteps, so long as you’re creating your own imprint along the way. Be you. Confidently. Unapologetically. Quirks, scars, vulnerabilities and all.