Have you heard about the Chinese bamboo story? Some years ago, someone told me the story and I was immediately mesmerized by the business lessons one could learn from a bamboo tree.
When you plant bamboo, like all other plants, you need to water it, nurture it, and make sure the soil is fertilized so it can grow. Yet, here’s the catch: even if you water and fertilize it for the entire year, you will never see any growth from the bamboo. And you will have to continue to do so for at least a couple more years.
However, in the fifth year, if you continue to nurture and make sure it has the right environment and soil for growth, you will see the bamboo grow from a small sprig to 80 feet tall, all within 5 short weeks. In the first 5 years, even if you consistently nurture it, it will never grow above ground. What the bamboo did is grow underground.
You see, bamboo knows that for it to grow 80 feet tall, it needs to have a strong foundation. Hence, in the first couple of years, it works its progress underground. This is why you will never notice any changes to the bamboo in the first few years. But once it is fully rooted, the bamboo can grow up to 90 feet tall all in just 6 weeks. And that usually happens in the fifth year.
How bamboo reflects your business
Imagine you’re starting a business. In the first year, everything is new and challenging for you. You learn as much as fast as you can, and by the end of the first year, you record a loss of $100,000.
In the second year, you continue to work hard and do your best to grow your business. This time, you learned the rope and you understand how things work. And by the end of the second year, your business is still recording a losses –– this time it’s $30,000.
Thus, in the third year, you work even harder and try your very best to build your business on the right path. And by the end of the third year, your business finally makes a profit of $50,000.
In the fourth year, you scale your business. With all your knowledge and experience you have gained in the first three years; you give everything to your business. By the end of the fourth year, you finally turn a substantial 7-figure profit.
This is just like the bamboo tree. In the first few years, you work hard on your business, but nothing seems to work. But little did you know that the growth is within yourself.
And after a couple of years of hardships and experience, you become better at what you do. And eventually, you turn your business from loss to profit. But you only see the results after a couple of years, not immediately.
Three lessons to learn from the bamboo tree
It is the same in business, if you want to become successful, don’t expect it to happen immediately. Everything takes time. Hence, learn these three valuable lessons from the bamboo.
1. Success takes time
Yes, success isn’t something that is going to happen instantly, it takes time. Like when you plant bamboo, it will take at least 5 years for it to grow.
The same goes for everything you do in life and business. Success requires time. And this is why you need to be consistent throughout your journey. You can’t hit the gym once and expect to lose all your additional fat. You can’t start a business today and expect to earn a million dollars in the next month.
Things are going to take time. And more importantly, you must not give up. Imagine you plant bamboo and you give up in the third year because you see no progress from your effort.
That’s exactly what is happening to most people. Whenever they see no progress, they choose to give up, quit, and start another project. And when their next project isn’t showing any result, they will jump ship again and start another one.
Until one day, they have had enough and choose to live life in mediocrity. That’s the day when they decided success isn’t for them. They have accepted it as a fact that they are not meant to be successful. Never let this happen to you.
2. Focus on personal growth and improvement
In the first few years when you plant the bamboo, you will never see any significant growth above ground, and that is because the bamboo is growing its root underground.
That’s what you need to do too. Grow and improve yourself. You need to build a strong foundation so you can grow bigger and higher “above the ground.”
“To double your income, triple your rate of learning.”Sir Robin Sharma
In the construction industry, you know that before you build a skyscraper, you need to have a solid foundation. Building the foundation is the most challenging work. Once the foundation is done, the building itself will be much easier.
Regardless of what industry you’re in, you need to grow and improve yourself to become better each day. As Sir Robin Sharma said, “To double your income, triple your rate of learning.”
3. Believe in the process
You can never know how your future will turn out. Just like planting bamboo, you can never see if it is growing underground. You can’t dig up the bamboo to see if it takes root. You just need to believe.
The same goes for everything you do in business. If you start a business and work hard on it, there is no guarantee you will be successful. But if you keep at it, learn and improve, put in 100% commitment, and don’t give up, you will surely increase your chances of success.
The problem is that most people are not living their dream life because they don’t believe they can do it. They give up way too soon.
Therefore, choose to believe in yourself, your dream, and that you can do it. Make it a commitment to pursue your goals until you achieve them. That’s how success is created.
Shawn Lim is the creator of Stunning Motivation and he’s a passionate blogger in the personal development industry who has inspired thousands to pursue their dreams and follow their passions.
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