Do you know what success and the Chinese bamboo tree have in common? Patience…
Success at times seems like an overnight accomplishment when people don’t know the full details of the story or process behind the results they see.
It is a journey and a process rather than a destination.
Every successful person has a story and a process they passed through that others are probably not aware of. They have a ‘backstage’ story to what is seen.
Success stories are like the growth of the Chinese bamboo tree… The success story of many is quite similar to the growth of a Chinese bamboo tree. Your story is the foundation of your success.
There is a great and valuable lesson to learn from the Chinese bamboo tree.
The Chinese Bamboo Tree
You may, or not, have heard or read the story or know of how the Chinese bamboo tree grows and becomes strong.
Well, here is a summary of how it basically grows…
Just like everything living thing that grows, the Chinese bamboo tree requires basic favourable conditions to also grow– water, the right environment, sunshine, nurturing and most importantly time.
There is no visible signs of growth in the first year of planting the Chinese bamboo.
Even in the second year, no above-the-ground growth happens.
The third and the fourth years in, nothing visible still happens.
Then ‘all of a sudden’ it begins to grow in the fifth year! The Chinese bamboo tree grows exponentially within weeks to attains several feet of height!
So what was happening all the while with the bamboo? Was it really growing?
Underground, something was happening that no one saw. And it wasn’t possible to tell except in time and by patience.
In the dirt it was taking all the nutrient, the nurturing, and time to build what will sustain it is out and above the ground. A patient farmer still nurtures it regardless of not seeing growth when others would have harvested what they have planted.
It was taking time to develop a root system strong enough to support its potential growth for all its lifetime. If it were to grow a stem that was too heavy for its roots to support, it would fall and die.
The fast growth after it comes out as a shoot shows that it wasn’t getting nurtured for nothing.
You, Your Success, Just Like the Bamboo Tree
Just like the Chinese Bamboo Tree, we go through same in life when we nurture a dream and try to grow it into fruition.
And just like the bamboo tree, our dreams, at times, don’t manifest any tangible growth in the first years of its nurturing after all the time, effort, money we have poured into it.
But we ‘bury’ ourselves in it and stay there.
In the first year to the third and fifth year of nurturing a dream, you will have choices to make when the potential is planted but hasn’t showed any potential of growth. But you keep nurturing it.
The frustration can lead to one of the two – have faith and patience in the process no matter what you see or what people say.
Or abort the dream by stopping to nurture it. But why abort a pregnancy in its eighth month just because you think the baby has to be born already.
Just like the conditions for growth of the bamboo, we have to be diligent and patient in weeding out any unwanted grasses growing around where we’ve planted. You cannot afford competing distractions.
We have to keep watering and adding manure – investing money in it even when there is no tangible profit.
And also it means we have to be planted in an environment where growth is possible.
Whether the growth is personal or organizational, the growth of one is the growth of others.
It’s a slow but sure process patience and persistence that is worth it when the reward of harvest starts rolling in.
And what if the farmer dug up his seed every year to show people or see if it was growing? There would have been no chance of survival for the bamboo.
At times it is an internal battle to prove with tangible results; Why are you not making money yet? You still don’t have a place of your own yet. It is a temptation to quit especially when bills and temptations stare you in the face.
Our patience is tested and we begin to wonder if our efforts (caring, water, etc.) will ever be rewarded.
This is the critical variable in attaining invaluable skills – in ourselves and others. It is our ability to stay persistent even when we are unable to see any growth on the surface… just like the Chinese Bamboo Tree.
People, who patiently toil towards worthwhile dreams and goals, building strong character while overcoming adversity and challenge, grow the strong internal foundation to handle success, while the ‘get-rich-quicks’ and lottery winners usually are unable to sustain unearned sudden wealth.
Remember, this is bamboo and not corn.
The Challenges of Growth and Success
Every true success needs and takes time. You won’t give birth to a child today and expect it to walk the next day or even the next month. There are things in life governed by principles that we just can’t hurry.
In a society and environment of instant gratification – this is our biggest challenge. The environment can also make or marr your dreams. The soil your bamboo is planted may be sabotaging its growth.
Doubt, Fear, and the Immediate Results of Others.
Time and Patience
We live in a quick-fix society. We get frustrated if we have to wait more than 2 minutes for service or a stop light to change. We want instant solutions to every complex problem and every fractured relationship.
We want it all now!
Education over Entertainment
Unfortunately, especially in this social media era, educative intellectual property is underappreciated. Because people value entertainment over quality education. And they tend to glide toward pleasure than value.
It hurts pouring yourself into something and not getting rewarded.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote over 100 years ago:
The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Toiled ever upward through the night.
Final Lesson From The Chinese Bamboo Tree
Have faith and patience – keep watering and manuring your ground, the tree will break through.
You should have the same kind of faith in your bamboo tree, whether it is to run a successful business, win a Pulitzer Prize, raise well-adjusted children, or whatever your dream is.
Keep making the calls, honing your craft, singing and writing, asking for donations for your business or organization.
You have to keep believing and pursuing. Because you never can tell who is watching.
Don’t get so excited about the planted ideas that you simply can’t wait for them to come to full materialization.
Therefore, within days or weeks of the initial planting, we become discouraged and begin to second guess ourselves, or worse, quit. Remember, this is not corn but bamboo.
This is true especially when we see neighbors having success with their own kind of trees which don’t bear the same fruits as ours.
Then we think, “What am I doing trying to grow a Chinese bamboo tree? If I had planted corn or yams, I’d have had some produce by now.”
Sometimes, in our doubt, we dig up our seed and plant it elsewhere. Or plant something else entirely. Don’t let that happen if you are sure of what you planted.
We see this very often in people who change jobs every year or so. We also see it in people who change organizations and even spouses in the pursuit of greener pastures.
When you abandon something, someone else comes along and see the struggling seed and nurture it back to life to become their own. And it will hurt you knowing that could have been you. Only if you were patient…
On the other hand, there are the people who leave their old jobs and their old dreams. They walk away from their dream in exchange for a ‘surer thing.’ They walk away from ‘corn’ to plant bamboo.
Sadly, what they fail to realize is that pursuing your dream is a sure thing if you just don’t give up in time. So long as you keep watering and fertilizing your dream, it will come to fruition, just like the Chinese Bamboo Tree.
It may take weeks. It may take months. It may even take years, but eventually, the roots will take hold and your Chinese bamboo tree will grow. And when it does, it will grow in remarkable ways.
There are people who had to start and ‘fail’ at so many endeavours before finally making it.
Well, we all have potential Chinese bamboo tree inside of us waiting to break through. Keep watering, nurturing, and believing and you too will shoot out and reach for the skies in due time.
Don’t stop when they your bamboo starts growing. Find others to plant again until you have a bamboo plantation. Don’t settle.
When you shoot out, you have to increase to maintain it. Keep growing and stand tall. Never be okay with average.
Expand your business, the career, expand your life, and your organization.
The lessons the Chinese bamboo tree teaches are patience, faith, perseverance, growth & development…
It took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success. “Keep trying and NEVER give up! – Lionel Messi
The growth may be slow – even invisible at times –but suddenly, like the Bamboo Tree, we will surprise ourselves.
What is your bamboo tree? Is it your career, business, organization or life?
Put in the work and see your success grow like a bamboo.
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We all have different gestation period.
If we are the bamboo & envy the ordinary grass, then we would turn out to be losers.
Patience in all we do & success would be inevitable.
Very key. Patience is very vital.