Life Lesson of the Chinese Bamboo

At the brink of destruction, a farmer teaches the world a valuable lesson.

Hundreds of years ago, a farmer in China had a beautiful and prosperous field full of the best fruits, vegetables, and grains any land could produce. Life was good until one day; his field became infected with a vicious virus that killed all his crops. The farmer became desperate to survive and provide for his family but knew that selling the land would not be an option as no one would want his virus-infected land. Understanding that the virus would continue to kill traditional crops, he decided to put his heart and soul into growing Bamboo. He knew Bamboo was resilient enough to withstand the virus and was versatile enough to be used and sold for many different applications.

Taking whatever little money he had left, the farmer went off to acquire as many bamboo seeds as he could afford and began digging and planting the seeds, fertilizing, and watering them. He worked his land for one full year, and early one morning stopped to look upon his field and saw absolutely nothing. Despite seeing no sign of progress, the farmer knew what he wanted and continued to work the land in hopes that Bamboo would soon sprout. Having a clear vision of what he needed to do, the farmer proceeded to pour himself into his property and left no square inch without being watered or fertilized. Towards the end of the second year, the farmer looked over his land to see yet again absolutely nothing.

By now and after two hard years of back-breaking labor, even the farmer’s family questioned his intention, vision, and desires. Despite his family’s pressure to quit, the farmer stayed the course and continued his hard work for two additional years. Four years later, and early one morning, the farmer walked out of his house to look at his land and again saw nothing. This time, after four years and with no signs of progress, the farmer became the talk of the town where many pitied him, stating he had lost his mind along with his crops. His family tried to convince him to give up finally, but he was adamant he would stay the course and continue to work his land.

Day after day for another year, the farmer maintained his focus and worked his land like never before. Then one early morning, something magical happened as the farmer stepped outside of his home with his head down feeling exhausted and defeated about to give up. The farmer looked up upon his land and, to his amazement, saw his field full of beautiful, green, tall, and healthy Bamboo that had grown overnight. The Bamboo continued growing each day, reaching ninety feet within six weeks.  

The town couldn’t believe their eyes and thinking the Bamboo had magical properties; paid the farmer handsomely, making him wealthier beyond his wildest dreams.

The story behind the story

Did it take six weeks for the Bamboo to grow to ninety feet or five years? The answer is five years. Although there was no sign of growth above the ground, there was a beautiful and intricate network of roots growing, connecting and going deep into the earth, setting the foundation for the “miraculous” Giant Bamboo Tree. Had the farmer given up, he would have had to drastically discount or give away his land as people feared the virus plagued it, and he would have lost everything.

Most people seek the quick hit, the quick win, and give up before the real blessing of their labor shows up. The goal is to determine what we truly want, then develop and pour ourselves into our vision’s fulfillment. We live in a world where information and knowledge are abundant, which we can leverage to help speed up the learning curve or seek efficient solutions when we encounter challenges. The most critical resource we have for success is our resourcefulness, and knowing when and how to find help will become the difference-maker in our lives.

Stay the course, become #unslackable with your vision, and enjoy the blessings of your labor. Don’t ever, ever give up until you’ve exhausted all possibilities.


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