The Secret Story of the Chinese Bamboo Tree.
Updated: Jan 11
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! They are some of the fastest-growing plants in the world due to a unique rhizome-dependent system. Certain species can grow 91 cm (36 in) within a 24-hour period, at a rate of almost 4 cm (1.6 in) an hour (a growth around 1 mm every 90 seconds, or 1 inch every 40 minutes).
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 strengthens our muscles, while muscles left alone will soon atrophy.
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. Put in the work and trust the process.