Business and Life Lessons From the Chinese Bamboo Story

We live in a quick-fix society. Access to information, music and books happens faster than it takes for our eyes to blink. We buy fast food, fast cars, seek fast delivery services, faster means of networking and communication are being discovered every day. We honk our horns at the car in front of us as soon as the traffic light turns green, we invest our money only where the profit comes back instantly, We get frustrated if we have to wait more than 2 minutes for a service.

We want to see instant results related to the turnaround of our economy, even though it took years to get to this state. If a someone is put in place to manage a project or organisation and doesn’t demonstrate an immediate turn-around, they take a walk through the revolving door and someone new is put in place.

The world is right now is literally on a fast lane, and our minds are being consciously or unconsciously rewired to think and expect everything to be FAST.


A few years ago, I watched a video on YouTube about the miracle of the Chinese Bamboo and the story really made me see life in a different light.

There is something amazing about Chinese bamboo and the way it grows and surely, not every farmer has what it takes to grow a Chinese Bamboo tree.

Like every other plant or tree, the growth of the Chinese bamboo tree requires nurturing – water, fertile soil, sunshine, etc. But that’s not all.

You plant it, water it, nurture it, and fertilize it every day. But nothing happens the first year. Not even a sign of seed germination. You do the same thing the next year, and still nothing happens – nothing at all.
I tried to imagine myself doing the same thing for 365 days and there’s no evidence of making any progress, there’s no proof that your effort is making having any effect whatsoever. It surely wont be easy to understand and accept.
This is what happens to the farmer for 4 good years. This is the kind of uncertainty the farmer has to deal with for 4 years.

Chinese bamboo tree, Chinese bamboo plant, chinese bamboo Story, Chinese Bamboo Forest. Beautiful bamboo forest,
Beautiful Bamboo forest

The only thing he knows is that the result is supposed to come in 4 years, and this knowledge is what he believes in.

What happens on the 5th year can only be described as a miracle. You wake up one morning and see a tiny bamboo spring up. Suddenly, there is hope, and the next day an even bigger one and in 5 weeks it has grown up to 90 feet. (27 meters)!

I was stunned when I watched the video for the first time, I had to carry out more research to make sure it’s not just another hoax. But take it or leave it, that’s how a Chinese Bamboo Grows.

There are lots of lessons to be learnt from the Chinese bamboo ( and the farmer too ), I have itemized just a few here which have helped me in recent times in business and life in general.

  • Build Strong Foundations : I once shared this story with a little boy and he asked me this very intelligent question – ” Did the Tree grow in 4 years or in 5 weeks ?” . Surely there was something  happening to the tree in all through the 4 year waiting period. The fact that we didn’t see any evidence doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. Most times we invest our time and resources on things we believe in and it looks like the results are not forth coming, but remember the farmer continued watering the seed and making sure all the necessary things needed for the tree’s growth. The 5 weeks of superfast growth is as a result of 4 years spent on building solid foundations. Take time to nurture your ideas , engage with the right people, build quality relationships , feed your belief with the right ingredients and watch it grow.


  • Patience : You may not need to wait for 4 years, you may not even need to cultivate a chinese bamboo plantation, but most of our endeavours in life will require even greater patience than that which we see in the life of the farmer. I just wonder how it is possible that he didn’t dig out the seed once in a while to see what is actually happening to the seed. If he had done that, he would have stunted the 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. Its okay to feel fustrated when things don’t go as we expect, but always remember that patience always Pays.
Patience, habakuk 2:3, wait for it.
Patience pays, Wait for it.


  • knowledge Is Power : Apart from being  patient, and zealous, another quality the farmer had is Knowledge. He knew it would take time, he knew he had to water the plant everyday for 5 years,he knew other farmers would laugh at him, he knew payday will surely come, he knew exactly when it will come. Was he sure ? maybe, But he surely knew what he was getting himself into.                                                    Take time to study your niche, learn more about ways to turn your ideas into opportunities, learn everything you can about your environment, acquire every information about your existing business or business idea, learn the pros and cons of your actions. This will help you prepare for what is coming.


  • Believe ! Faith Is The Key : The  Chinese Bamboo Tree farmers have faith that if they keep watering and fertilizing the ground, the tree will break through. Your chinese bamboo can be anything, your business, an idea, building a healthy  relationship, marriage, raising up wonderful kids, a project, academic excellence, a career, winning a nobel prize, etc.  You must have faith that if you keep making the calls, honing your craft, reading to your children, reading quality books, attending related seminars and conferences, sharing value,reaching out to your spouse or asking for donations, what ever you do each day to support your growth,that you too will see rapid growth in the future. 


    Summary :

In a world driven by quick fixes and instant gratification, the ability to stay focused and continue to believe in what we are doing even when we don’t see immediate results is our biggest challenge.

The problem is that the quick-fix nature of our society makes it difficult for us to stay long enough to experience our own 5 weeks of rapid growth.  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, if we don’t see quick results as expected, we become discouraged and begin to second guess ourselves, or worse, quit. The people who built the wonderful things we now enjoy in the form of science and technology were only able to be successful because they believed in their guts and kept on watering their seeds.

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