The Early Bird Catches The Worm

The inherent truth lying inside idioms and proverbs are mesmerizing. One of them is the ‘early bird catches the worms’. Literally a ‘worm’ comes at early in the morning to the ground and a ‘bird’ that wakes up early in the morning gets the ‘worm’. But the inner meaning of the simple looking proverb is far more intense than it actually seems-particularly in the backdrop of this age of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation-where everyone is in rat race of the struggle of existence. The individual who will start early the race is more likely to get the advantage. In other words being punctual and disciplined in approach is the key word of success- and showing laziness and procrastination in approach leads to disaster.
The first reference of the proverb is found in John Ray’s –“A collection of English proverbs’ of 1670 and it is a clear indication of the fact that the proverb was in use even in the 17th century.
Bird of the proverb refers to the individual and worm refers to the opportunity. An opportunity comes once in a million. And when it comes it has to be grabbed by both hands. To avail a golden opportunity individual must start as early as possible. ‘Catch them young’-is a mantra of corporate world of today. Young recruits are like clay- who can be moulded to the perfect shape that the industry of today demands. They are more enthusiastic in their approach to work- more eager and willing to learn-and bring new ideas and perspectives to the workplace. Youth represents the future.
It is often the habit of people to delay their work. For the last minute touch most important part of the work remains incomplete. It is a common practice among office goers and students-where the rush for eleventh hour completion of work is very common.
Old fairytales teach us never look back to your workload-just go on doing it and you will finish it before time, however strenuous the work may be. A way of dong it is to break the work in small units, having a target and finish the target within stipulated time. Leaving the work for the last moment requires a lot of energy and effort just to figure out how the work to be done-and the work quality invariably gets compromised. So make hay while the sun shines- leaving the work for the last minute results in workloads getting piled up- and ultimately results in failure to complete it.
If we take glimpses from the lives of great personalities we can see what wonders early rise has done to their lives. Mahatma Gandhi-the father of the nation was a man of time. His day started at 4 a.m. with his tryst with wheel and his day ended with the e same charkha –often past midnight. He consulted his pocket watch several times so as never to be late for an appointment. “You may not waste a grain of rice or a scrap of paper, and similarly a minute of your time,” he wrote. “It is not ours. It belongs to the nation and we are trustees for the use of it.” Consequently, any abuse of time was unethical. “One who does less than he can is a thief,” he wrote to a friend. “If we keep a timetable we can save ourselves from the last-mentioned sin indulged in even unconsciously.” Everyday of Benjamin Franklin-one of the founding fathers of the United States of America started with the soul searching question ‘what goods shall I do today?’ and ended likewise with another-‘what did I do today?’ to be able to do what he achieved over his entire life-he always had a habit of rising very early in the morning. So when Thomas Jefferson, another founding father of America said-“The sun has not caught me in bed in fifty years.”-it explained the key to his success.
The meaning of the proverb is crystal clear –you snooze, you loose. The bird that starts its search for the worm early-it does not have to be repentant. Likewise if we start our endeavour as soon as possible-we do not have any reason afterwards. It is true for all spheres of life. Not only are we placed in an advantageous position- but individual starting early gets the benefit of planning his task well in advance for a better productivity, is blessed with a good health as the old saying goes-“early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy .wealthy and wise.” and not to forget the fact that early completion of his job means spending more time with the family.

It is not only true in respect of development of personality and opportunity in respect of individual- but also history is a witness of the fact that the states who had a history stretching back thousand of years ago like china has advanced far beyond than the countries like Papua New Guinea with a comparatively shorter history of statehood. The process of economic and social development is a consequence of several decades of experimentation. With an experienced pool of human resource a country with a history of experimentation in the field of governance may effectively pursue its policy. For example in the face of rapid population growth china was able to enhance the foster industrial growth and upgrade the process of human stock development –under institutions of government planning and state property in the 1960 s and 1970s whereas the same policy proved disastrous for Mozambique just a few years after. In market oriented economies too such contrast is prominent if we take the example of 20th century economic development of Japan and South Korea – modern nations with long heritage of state hood in comparison to Philippines which developed the concept of statehood after 16th century. The transition from a traditional economy to a modern industrialized economy similarly requires several generations. There are multiple steps from primitive hunting and gathering to the development of settled agriculture and then to the more developed agricultural states with taxation and currency system which transforms to a market driven growth oriented industrialized economy. Taking the example of south European nations who have done these exercises for generations have a very advanced economic model in state- but in case of countries that have liberated from colonial rules after the second world war- these exercise stood incomplete. And hence the transition is not complete. The governance model similarly in western nations is highly advanced when compared to the developing nations. The reason is all the same-benefit of an early start.
So earlier we start-brighter is our chance of completing the job on schedule. Life does not give second opportunity- so it is wise thinking on the part of individual to utilize fully the opportunity that comes to our way. This is the key to success-or in other words pillars of success in the quest of life.


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