You might have heard the story of the Chinese Bamboo. Read on if you haven’t heard of it, and if you already know it read on all the same. It’s a good story to hear multiple times.
A poor Chinese farmer once asked his prosperous friend about the secret to his riches. He is then told of the legend of the Chinese bamboo. Some seeds are given to him and he’s asked to follow a set of instructions:
- Plant the bamboo seeds 6 feet apart in the farm
- Water them daily whether you see any results or not
- Be patient
It’s the last part that is the most difficult. You see, the Chinese bamboo takes some time to grow. The farmer carries water to the farm and performs his duty every day for six months. Nothing happens.
He’s beginning to lose hope but still trusts his friend. A whole year passes and the farm still lies visibly empty. Six more months pass, and then six more.
At the two year mark, his family starts losing faith in the farmer’s decision. His friends start openly asking him to give up this foolishness and get back to growing vegetables. It’s a dependable income.
He is not even sure what is driving him. He labours on for another whole year. Still, he has nothing to show for the effort. The farmland looks exactly as it looked three years ago – barren and dead.
Imagine three years of unflinching hope and non-stop work resulting in nothing. He goes back to his friend who gave him the seeds, and is once again given the same two-word advice – Be Patient.
Yet another year passes. Four full years of backbreaking effort and nothing to show for it. The farmer wonders if he has picked the wrong land or the wrong seeds or if he hasn’t watered enough or watered too much. Surely, there should be some sign of progress by now.
Five years pass, and the farmer is at the end of his leash. His wife is ready to give up. His friends are already laughing at him, and worse, pitying him. He keeps on watering because that’s all he knows now. That is all that is keeping his sanity.
One day, on a regular visit to the farm, he sees a few bamboo shoots. He is overjoyed. He runs to his wife to tell her. When they both reach, the shoots have become bigger – in less than an hour.
They stand and watch in awe as the Bamboo grows and grows and grows – almost visibly. In six weeks it grows to 60 feet high. The shoots then grow horizontally, create more bamboos, and soon turn the farm into a veritable forest. It’s growing faster than it can be harvested.
The poor farmer is no longer poor. The harvest has fixed all his financial problems and is almost self-governing now.. His friends no longer secretly laugh at him. They’re now asking him for advice, and a few seeds to start their own farm.
How did this miracle come about? Surely the Bamboo wasn’t teasing the farmer for 5 years when it showed no outward growth.
Well, when the first five years showed no visible results, the Bamboo was growing down below. It was creating a strong, complex and deep root system to be able to handle the explosive growth that was sure to come.
On your entrepreneurial journey, you’ll come across similar situations. Loss of hope, self-doubt, peer pressure, family pressure, and most importantly, impatience
The Chinese bamboo is the perfect metaphor for your business. All you need to know is this: It works. It takes time, but it’s worth it.
Only one question remains: What is the significance of the word Gentle in this story? Why Gentle Bamboo? Wait for a while, and I’ll share that too.
How long has your Bamboo farm been around? Have you started to see some shoots? Share your story and I’ll share mine.
Still growing slowly,