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Lanre Amodu

Grass Cutter Ants Case Study: Why Success Requires Specialization

success specialization

By Lanre Amodu

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 on 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 Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein, Michael Jackson and Barack Obama, a specific picture comes to your mind. That picture is their niche and that is why they are unforgettable.

Understandably, some people may have to try their hands on a few things before they discover what works for them. But unfortunately, several people move with the crowd; they migrate to any business that is currently making money. They neither have passion nor competence to succeed at it but they go for it anyway. Soon, the business becomes saturated with a large number of service providers with ever decreasing quality. Eventually, patronage begins to drop until that business is totally ruined. Then, of course, people move on to the next “hot” idea and vicious circle continues.

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:

To Maximise your strength: Grass 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.

To 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.

I look forward to reading your comments and stories of great successes. Share your views with me by sending SMS to 0703473739 and on twitter @lanreamodu.



  1. KY

    April 4, 2018 at 7:24 AM

    short and onpoint article, I like ur writing style Mr Amodu.

  2. Danti

    April 4, 2018 at 12:30 PM

    This is just an observatory remark, LUCK and TIME are more important than strength. If you look at music, you will see that modern technology(TIME) has simplify it for those who want to go in(LUCK). Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey and Dele Abiodun went through hell to learn guitar, but modernity(Time)has made it easy for young ones such as Davido,Tekno and the rest. Have these old musicians been able to make money the way of the new generation? In this millennial, sticking to one area of strength will blast you into oblivion. A lot of Nigerian professionals dumped their areas of strength when they arrive America for lucrative medical fields. Two decades ago it was computer science; so, you can see how TIME and LUCK orbit each other. What will the cutter ants do when there are no more leaves to cut or Time has brought in predators(LUCKY) that will eat these cutter ants? Folks, life is not that simple, flexibility is one of the secrets to deal with our ever changing world of ours!

  3. Mon

    April 5, 2018 at 4:30 AM

    I guess the writer is referring to avatars, otherwise, environment plays an important role in shaping our life.

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