Unsupervised Ants

Proverb for Today

Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise. Which, having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provides her bread in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. (Proverbs 6:6-8, MEV)


We say, “Character is who you are when no one is watching.” It’s a simple statement, but a profound thought.

Our modern business models typically involve a great deal of oversight: managers, supervisors, team leaders, shift leaders, etc. Our hierarchal structures center around someone above you watching, taking notes, conducting performance reviews, giving accountability. Today’s workforce is trained to exist within this system because we feel safe. It’s comfortable knowing someone is always with you, watching in some way.

But what happens when our accountability at work is gone?

Ants don’t have supervisors. They don’t have managers. They don’t have performance reviews. Ants work hard to gather food and store it away.

I’m challenged today by this observation. How many times do I slack off, do “good enough” instead of my best, or stop working completely simply because I know I’m not being watched?

A wise person takes account of their responsibilities and, regardless of who’s watching, gets their work accomplished to the best of their ability. It’s a funny thought, but I wonder what our performance reviews would look like tomorrow if we worked a little more like ants today.


Reflect and Respond

  • What type of worker are you when no one is watching?
  • How can being conscious of our responsibilities motivate us even when our accountability goes away?
  • In what areas are you most diligent? Why?
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