One day, I was reading one of my favorite self-improvement blogs and I stumbled upon an article that talked about the Chinese giant bamboo. It immediately caught my attention.
I wondered what a bamboo had to do with personal development, so I kept reading.
And I’m glad I did it. The piece of advice I found in that article supported me in achieving some important goals during the last years.
The article explained how a Chinese giant bamboo grows, but most importantly how its growth process can be applied to our personal development.
This is what I learned.
The Chinese Giant Bamboo
The Chinese giant bamboo — or Dendrocalamus giganteus — is one of the largest bamboo species in the world.
Like many other grasses, it needs to be planted in a fertile soil, and it requires consistent watering and nurturing once you plant its seed.
They say you won’t see the bamboo growing during the first two years.
The same happens during the third and fourth years: you can’t see much growth above the soil yet.
It’s after four years that the magic happens. The bamboo grows between 80 and 90 feet in only six weeks.
The question is: How long does it take for this plant to grow that high?
Many would answer it takes a few weeks.
The reality is, it takes years.
During the first years when apparently nothing happens, the plant builds its root system underground, which makes it possible for it to grow so quickly above the soil in just a few weeks.
The point is this: the rapid growth you see is the result of consistent daily nurturing, repeated for years.
And we can apply this concept to our personal growth.
A giant bamboo can’t grow in a few weeks without having developed its roots during the previous years. Similarly, without years of practice, experience and preparation, we have very little chance to succeed and become who we want.
It’s All About Daily Repeated Actions
Small daily actions play a significant role in long-term achievements because consistency and tiny habits are what contribute the most to our growth.
If we want to predict our long-term success, we must learn to focus on what we can do every day. Because over time, what we repeatedly do, and how we nurture our potential every single day, determines the quality of our future.
When we understand this idea and put it into practice, we are on the right track.
This idea is particularly useful when facing a challenge or when for some reason, we feel discouraged.
If during these periods we keep focusing on our daily actions and what we can control, we will eventually succeed.
Giving up as soon as things don’t go our way, is almost never the solution. We should always embrace challenges instead; we should let them teach us how to get where we want and keep going.
Success is a process.
The 3 Qualities of Successful People
Imagine you want to become fluent in French.
You are good at learning languages and already have a basic level of French, but you still have to learn a lot to become proficient.
You also have a friend who wants to become fluent and has your same language level.
Now imagine that you don’t do anything to improve, because every time you try to have a conversation in French you can’t find the words or you make grammar mistakes and get frustrated. You lose your patience and give up.
Then imagine that after one year you hear your friend talking on the phone with a French friend. You are speechless.
You wonder how she became so fluent in such a short time, while you are still at a very basic level. So you ask her how she did it.
All she tells you is: “I traveled to France for a 2-weeks intensive course and then I studied every day for 12 months. You know, practice makes perfect!”
See, when we want to improve and succeed in something, we need some knowledge and skills in that particular subject, but it’s not enough.
What it takes is the combination of 3 Ps — that is the three qualities that often make the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t:
Our potential is the set of skills and abilities that we have and that can lead us to reach certain goals.
Patience is the ability to get rid of the need for seeing results immediately. It means having faith in our purpose and our skills.
Perseverance is the ability to be consistent and resilient, even when we feel discouraged or feel like giving up. It’s through perseverance that we activate our potential.
Remember that if you don’t water a giant bamboo every day, you won’t see it grow 90 feet after four years, it will probably die.
The combination of these three elements together is powerful and it’s what can take us beyond our limits, even when we feel discouraged.
It’s what one day will make people wonder how you became so good at what you do.
The Combination of Potential, Patience, and Perseverance Doesn’t Always Work
Have you ever committed to something and then realized it was not what you really liked or were cut out for? You probably felt excited at the beginning because things were new and you were learning new stuff.
However, after a while, you realized you felt bored and weren’t enjoying what you were doing. You found yourself lazy and no more motivated to learn more or become better.
See, to make potential, patience and perseverance work together, we need to be on our path.
Doing what we love is vital. It puts us on the right track.
Exactly as the right climate and a fertile soil are essential for the bamboo to grow.
It’s essential to have faith and nurture our potential every day with patience, as we would do with a giant bamboo to make it grow. This is how we can reach the best version of ourselves.
This is the lesson I learned from a bamboo.