Water the Bamboo

I recently read a fascinating book that put daily work and perseverance into an awesome perspective.

Water The Bamboo, by Greg Bell, tells the story of giant timber bamboo, but the book also does much, much more.

The book explains that giant timber bamboo will grow 90 feet in 60 days. That is a foot and a half per day. People claim that during that time of rapid growth you can actually hear the bamboo grow.

What’s crazy about giant timber bamboo is that once its planted, it takes at least three years to even show the slightest growth. For three years the bamboo will not break through the ground. Timber bamboo farmers water the seed and tend to it faithfully, even though there is no visible evidence of growth for years.

Bell weaves the story of the bamboo into a narrative that applies to our lives. He asks the question: “What are you working on now that you might not see results for years?”

The first bamboo farmers probably gave up on their crop after a few months of seeing no results. They missed out on something phenomenal because they didn’t stick with it.

How often are we guilty of something similar?

We want to see results from anything we do and we want to see those results fast. We don’t have the patience to wait around for three weeks, let alone three years.

Bell explains another amazing aspect of giant timber bamboo that I think is a very important lesson to learn. He says that, “the other fascinating fact about this bamboo is that you can plant other crops above the bamboo for those three years that it is working its way to the surface. So you can be working on your bamboo, but also planting corn, beans and any other crop that will sustain you in the meantime. When you are watering those crops, you are also watering your bamboo.”

What a great analogy for life.

I want my book to be a bestseller and be turned into a movie. If that ever happens, it may take years. I would be wasting those years if I just sat back and didn’t work on my writing. Instead, I can be working every day (planting other crops and watering my seed) by writing on this blog and becoming a better writer so that when my break happens (and my bamboo starts to grow) I will be ready.

The story I touched on last week of Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam is a great example of someone who is watering their bamboo years before he will ever see signs of life. He won’t have his own store for years. But he is watering his crop now and in time he will reap the rewards of all that work.

So like Bell, I ask the question: What are you working on now that you might not see results for years?

Will you stick with it?

When times get tough and we do not see any results we have to remember to water the bamboo.

 (Learn more about Water The Bamboo here)

2 thoughts on “Water the Bamboo

  1. This is great. I think too many in our society today are too focused on instant gratification. If it doesn’t benefit me now why should I do it at all… etc.

    1. I think you are right. People don’t want to have patience and they don’t want to put in work while having that patience.

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