Lessons From The Chinese Bamboo Tree


Bamboo is a member of the grass family. It is a colony plant. It uses energy from the existing plant to produce more plants and expand the root structure. Shoots emerge and turn into a cane with ‘limbs and leaves’ in a 60 day period. It continues to grow in height and girth in the next 4 years and more. A Chinese bamboo tree takes about 5 years to grow !! Like any plant to flourish the Chinese bamboo tree requires nurturing – water, fertile soil, sunshine.

At the end of the first year the Chinese bamboo tree shows no visible signs of activity or development. In the second year too, there is no growth above the ground. In the third and fourth year too there are no traces of anything happening to the bamboo seed sowed, you start getting doubtful whether the bamboo is going to show up or whether it has died. Our patience is tested and we begin to wonder if our efforts (Caring, Watering) will ever be rewarded.

But if you have faith, and you continue to water it, and “Lo and Behold” after five years, a small shoot appears. In a matter of a few days from then, it develops into a cane and starts shooting up towards space. In a matter of 42 days the Chinese bamboo tree would have risen to a height of a whopping 80 feet !! Roughly the height of an eight storeyed building !! Think about it seriously. Was the tree dormant for the first four years and started growing exponentially in the fifth year? Or was the little tree growing underground developing a strong enough root system enough to support it’s potential from fifth year onwards !!? We know the answer. It has been steadily growing its root system.

People who patiently toil towards worthwhile dreams and goals build strong character to overcome while overcoming adversity, challenge, grow the strong internal foundation to become successful. Get rich quickers and lottery winners almost very soon return to their base line since they are not used to developing their roots and conservation besides handling success. They don’t know the value of sweat.


Had the Chinese farmer now and then checked whether the bamboo tree is growing or not by digging the soil, the bamboo tree would never grow. Similarly if one opens the cocoon to help the butterfly emerge out from the chrysalis state, the result would be a grounded caterpillar with no wings. No butterfly would emerge. The struggle in the cocoon is what helps the butterfly the wing to fly. The tension against the muscles helps the muscles get tightened. The rocket is pushed into the orbit because of the backward thrust.


The Chinese bamboo tree is a metaphor that we can use to compare with our potential. At the moment it is stored in us as potential energy. It is up to us to make use of this potential. It shows that it is worth the wait to being patient and persistent in doing what we are doing. Although we do not see any perceptible growth on the outside, if we work in the development of the soft and hard skills besides our values and character we can show excellent results in the years to come.

We live in a society where we expect quick results. We get irritated when we have to wait in the signal, we get flustered if we need to wait for billing in the market place. We check our weight after 40 minutes walk on the treadmill !!

Lessons from the Chinese Bamboo tree –

  1. Success doesn’t come straightaway.
  2. Success requires a strong foundation
  3. Success means consistency
  4. If you build castles in the air, your work need not go a waste. Put foundation under them. Nurture your dreams.
  5. Do not doubt your potential. God has given us enough and a more…
  6. Patience pays… Perseverance pays… Effort pays…

The foremost thing we need to learn is having FAITH to keep watering and fertilizing the ground the tree would eventually emerge and shoot up. One must have the same kind of FAITH when they are running their business or raising their children or getting their PhD’s !! What could be done in five years you cannot expect in five months. There are people who think that instead of a Chinese bamboo tree if they had planted a guava tree they would have started getting the fruits by then !! They change their goals. Swami Vivekananda said, “ Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life. Think of it, Dream on it, Live on that idea, Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that idea, and just leave every idea alone.” This is the way to success !!

Imagine if you are level 3 and your problem or obstacle is at level 5 it will seem like a big problem for you. However if you would level-up, things would be different. Always remember that the size of the problems do not matter; what matters is the size of YOU. When you equip yourself with adequate knowledge and equip yourself with powerful characteristics you can set out to achieve whatever you wanted.

Do not quickly change the job at the drop of a hat; do not think of divorce so soon. Work on your patience. Persevere… There should be a way and the way is on the way… Wait. Just being quiet and silent, working towards it and not changing the goal would sooner or later solve your problem. Have Faith. Faith works.

Henry Ford had to water his Chinese bamboo tree over five business failures to finally succeed with the Ford motor company. Robert Bruce again and again fought against a large army before getting victorious. Atapattu the Sri Lankan cricketer failed and failed to score, got dropped and dropped but never gave up and finally cemented his place in the national side besides captaining Sri Lanka.

Success is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life, like most people can’t !! Be like a Chinese Bamboo Tree !!