The Story of the Chinese Bamboo Tree

Chinese Bamboo Tree

I know it sounds a little out there but hear me out on this one.  This is such a great parable.  I don’t know if you’ve heard this story about the Chinese Bamboo Tree before now but this is one of those lessons that really sticks with you.  The Chinese Bamboo Tree teaches us success lessons on patience, faith, perseverance, growth & development and most surprising of all… human potential!

The Story of The Chinese Bamboo Tree

Like any plant, growth of the Chinese Bamboo Tree requires nurturing – water, fertile soil, sunshine. In its first year, we see no visible signs of activity. In the second year, again, no growth above the soil. The third, the fourth, still nothing. Our patience is tested and we begin to wonder if our efforts (caring, water, etc.) will ever be rewarded.

And finally in the fifth year – behold, a miracle! We experience growth. And what growth it is! The Chinese Bamboo Tree grows 80 feet in just six weeks!

But let’s be serious, does the Chinese Bamboo Tree really grow 80 feet in six weeks? Did the Chinese Bamboo Tree lie dormant for four years only to grow exponentially in the fifth? Or, was the little tree growing underground, developing a root system strong enough to support its potential for outward growth in the fifth year and beyond? The answer is, of course, obvious. Had the tree not developed a strong unseen foundation it could not have sustained its life as it grew. The same principle is true for people. 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 get-rich- quickers and lottery winners usually are unable to sustain unearned sudden wealth.

Had the Chinese Bamboo Tree farmer dug up his little seed every year to see if it was growing, he would have stunted the Chinese Bamboo tree’s growth as surely as a caterpillar is doomed to a life on the ground if it is freed from its struggle inside a cocoon prematurely. The struggle in the cocoon is what gives the future butterfly the wing power to fly, just as tension against muscles as we exercise strengthen our muscles, while muscles left alone will soon atrophy.

The Story of The Human Potential Tree (aka You)

The Chinese Bamboo Tree is a perfect parable to our own experience with personal growth and change (whether we are working on ourselves or coaching others). It is never easy. It’s slow to show any progress. It’s frustrating and unrewarding at times. But it is sooooo worth it….especially if we can be patient and persistent.

This is the critical variable in attaining new skills – in developing 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.

The Challenge We Learn from the Chinese Bamboo Tree

Can we stay focused and continue to believe in what we are doing even when we don’t see immediate results? In a culture driven by instant gratification – this is our biggest challenge.

We often tell each other (and our children), remember to “Keep trying! and NEVER give up!” The change may be slow – even invisible at times – but suddenly, as in the case of the Chinese Bamboo Tree, we will surprise ourselves.

Keep your faith in this important work.

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. In short – we want it all now! Maybe its time to reflect on an old, old poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that is as true today as it was when he wrote it 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

Yet, all of this requires one thing – faith. The growers of the Chinese Bamboo Tree have faith that if they keep watering and fertilizing the ground, the tree will break through. Well, you must 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 what have you. You must have faith that if you keep making the calls, honing your craft, reading to your children, reaching out to your spouse or asking for donations, that you too will see rapid growth in the future.

This is the hard part for most of us. We get so excited about the idea that’s been planted inside of us that we simply can’t wait for it to blossom. Therefore, within days or weeks of the initial planting, we become discouraged and begin to second guess ourselves, or worse, quit.

Sometimes, in our doubt, we dig up our seed and plant it elsewhere, in hopes that it will quickly rise in more fertile ground. 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. More often than not, these people are greatly disappointed when their Chinese bamboo tree doesn’t grow any faster in the new location.

Other times, people will water the ground for a time but then, quickly become discouraged. They start to wonder if it’s worth all of the effort. This is particularly true when they see their neighbors having success with other trees. They start to think, “What am I doing trying to grow a Chinese bamboo tree? If I had planted a lemon tree, I’d have a few lemons by now.” These are the people who return to their old jobs and their old ways. They walk away from their dream in exchange for a “sure thing.”

Sadly, what they fail to realize is that pursuing your dream is a sure thing if you just don’t give up. 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.

We’ve seen this happen so many times. Henry Ford had to water his Chinese Bamboo Tree through five business failures before he finally succeeded with the Ford Motor Company. Another great bamboo grower was the legendary jockey Eddie Arcaro. Arcaro lost his first 250 races as a jockey before going on to win 17 Triple Crown races and 554 stakes races for total purse earnings of more than $30 million.

Well, you have a Chinese Bamboo Tree inside of you just waiting to break through. So keep watering and believing and you too will be flying high before you know it.

Did this story of the Chinese Bamboo Tree resonate with you?  Do you feel more inspired?  What will you start doing differently as a result of this little, yet powerful story of the Chinese Bamboo Tree? Let me know in the comment section below!

Make life an adventure

Time to get Inspired!

Inspire_Logo.jpg
Time To Get Inspired!

Words of inspiration lift the spirit, boost morale and nudge you in the direction you want to go. No two people are inspired quite the same way, and what inspires is as unique as the sound of your laughter. No two people are inspired quite the same way. One person’s inspiration may come from reading a book, poem or quote. Another may be inspired by music, the sound of children’s laughter or silence that encourages reflective thinking. If you feel uninspired and long to rekindle the glowing coals of your life into a roaring fire, try using the following tips. Let a few words of inspiration sink in as you ponder the possibilities of living an inspired life.

inspire-by-the-inspired

What is Inspiration?

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” — George Eliot

The American Heritage Dictionary defines inspiration as, “stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.” Who doesn’t want to be inspired and experience heightened emotions and the joyful sense of satisfaction from achieving? Without inspiration, innovative ideas have no chance of taking flight; in fact, they fail to exist. As the pressures of mundane existence consume most of our time, we might let some earlier dreams or goals go by. In this quote, Eliot speaks to her reader’s doubts and assures them that it’s never too late to turn around and rediscover your dreams.

Inspire-Me

Get Inspired

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” — Anais Nin

One can only be inspired if one is willing to take action and seek inspiration. Like the Nike ad that insists, “Just do it,” pushing yourself and taking action gets results. Ask yourself this question, “How do I get inspired?” Think of past inspirational moments. What were you doing? Where were you? Was anyone with you? Inspiration can come from almost anywhere, at any time and often from unlikely sources.

What I learned playing with the online gaming community.

What I learned playing with the online gaming community.
Noble Team
A while ago I had a blast playing Halo 3 for the first time. It lead me to reflect on the countless hours I’ve poured into the Halo series over the past 8 years. Sure, I might not have much to show for it, but that time was thoroughly enjoyed. In retrospect, I even learned some important life lessons that have helped me succeed.
1. Hesitation is death – In Halo, nothing will get you cracked on the back of the skull faster than hesitation. The same is true in real life. If you waste time worrying about what your competitors are doing, you’ll never succeed. Sure, if you take a chance you might get burned, but you need to accept that risk and make a move. If you fail, learn from the experience and try again. Success comes from being aggressive and actively seeking opportunities.
2. Success requires experience – Obviously natural skill contributes to Halo success, but what really makes a solid player is experience. If you jump into a game without understanding the geography of the map or the capabilities of the various weapons, you won’t stand a chance against an equally skilled player who does. The lesson here is that to acquire an expertise, you need to put in the time to learn the basics. If you don’t know the medium you’re working in, you’ll be strategically disadvantaged.
3. You can’t win without teamwork – In team Halo matches, the ability of players to work together is more important than individual skill. A group of solo artists working against a unified team will constantly be isolated and overwhelmed. To be successful you need to sacrifice personal glory to watch your buddy’s back. Once you can get past ego and start to cooperate with others there will be more success for everyone.
4. Anticipation is the key to victory – The key to making a sweet kill in Halo is knowing what your opponent is going to do before he does. This comes from experience and pattern recognition. When you can anticipate, you can place yourself in the ideal position to bury your competitors before they have the time to adjust.
5. Leverage your strengths – The world of Halo is extremely diverse. Between the numerous weapon strengths, ranges, and combinations, there is an infinite number of ways to make a kill. Different playing styles lend themselves to different strategies. You’ll be much more successful if you can recognize your personal strengths and put yourself in a position to capitalize on them while hiding your weaknesses. Winning comes in streaks – Anyone who’s played much Halo has experienced streaks. One day you’re dead on, killing everyone in sight. The next, you’re getting dominated and can’t seem to find a rhythm. Streaks are part of any high functioning activity.
6. Some days you just can’t concentrate a well as others. The lesson here is that you need to recognize your streaks so you can weather the bad ones and make the most of the good ones.
7. The Devil’s in the details – To the untrained eye, a Halo match looks like a bunch of maniacs running around shooting. In truth, it’s a precise ballet of intelligent players reacting to each other and the environment. The difference between life and death can be as small as the angle of a grenade toss or the decision to reload. The same is true in real life. You need to pay attention to all the tiny details that contribute to success or failure.
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