We are officially less than one week away from April. As someone who loves to be outside and despises snow and cold weather, I am absolutely vibrating with the excitement of getting to be outside playing in the dirt.
I was extremely proud of myself this year and I actually was able to get some seeds planted and placed in my front window. Each day I would come home and water them, anxiously waiting and hoping that I would see green sprouting out of the dirt. I would look at the trays of brown each day and see only that brown. Disappointment would set in and I would start to question whether or not I had planted the seeds deep enough, or maybe too deep, had I watered enough, was it warm enough, and were they getting enough sun? So many questions. So much doubt.
Then one day I came hope and just breaking through the surface of one of the pots was a small, almost unnoticeable green life form. The next day there was another, and the day after that there was another. I had been successful and my effort was paying off and I realized that this was just the beginning of the work that I was going to have to do.
And with most things in my life, I thought about how this represented life in general. How often do we plant proverbial seeds, with the expectation that we will get immediate results. We seem to forget that there is a step between planting and harvesting, and that is cultivating. We need to tend to our gardens and our lives in order to reap what we sow.
I remember being lucky enough to attend a workshop many, many moons ago in Pennsylvania, where I had the opportunity to hear the Legendary Les Brown speak. If you have never heard of him, you need to listen to some of his audios, he is an incredible speaker. Les told the story of the Chinese Bamboo Tree. You see, to grow bamboo you must plant the seed in fertile ground, and water it, and nurture it.
In the first year of nurturing you see no growth, in the second year you see no growth, in the third and fourth years, it is the same. But then, in the fifth year, the Chinese Bamboo Tree breaks ground and in just six weeks it grows to over eighty feet in height. The question Les asked was how long did it take the bamboo tree to grow to eighty feet. Was it six weeks? Of course, the answer is no, it took the bamboo tree five years to grow to eighty feet. It took those five years for the tree to establish the root system that would enable it to be strong enough to support such massive growth. If at any time in that five years they had stopped nurturing and watering and tending to that bamboo plant it would have died.
We need to understand how much we are like those bamboo trees. Sometimes we get disappointed because we do not see our growth right away, after all, we live in a one-click society. Delayed gratification isn't something we are accustomed to anymore. We work out for a couple of weeks and diet and don't see any change in our bodies, so we give up and go back to eating unhealthy and living a sedentary lifestyle. Life can be extremely frustrating when you are putting in the effort and not seeing the results. You will start to second guess yourself and your efforts. Are you working out hard enough? Are you eating the right diet? We have forgotten that we need to have patience and nurture ourselves like the bamboo tree.
This can also be true for those who are starting out in the entrepreneurial world. You decide to start your own business, you get everything set up, you start marketing and advertising, and then nothing. You don't have the sales, the customers aren't banging down your door to buy your products, you don't know what to do, and you feel like a failure.
So what do you do? Do you give up? Or do you keep advertising, and marketing until one day, someone calls you and makes a purchase. They love your product so they tell a friend who then makes a purchase, and they tell a friend and the next thing you know you have more customers than you can keep up with. So did your success come with that first customer? No, it came from your continuing to nurture your dream and your business. Had you stopped during any of those early stages of growth, you would not have achieved your dream of a successful business.
Success, never comes overnight, despite the myth that society likes to perpetuate. It is the culmination of many actions repeated over an extended period of time. Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb came up with one thousand unsuccessful plans for the lightbulb before finding the one that worked. Each and every unsuccessful attempt was like water on a seed, it created the growth he needed to learn what would work and what wouldn't.
The same is true today with our lives. Sometimes we will have failures, and those are the times when the seeds will lie dormant under the ground. But with each failure, or day that you don't see or feel like you are experiencing growth, you are moving forward to your own groundbreaking. Remember what Winston Churchill said "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."
So if we can learn to stay the course, have patience, and nurture ourselves when we don't see any growth then we can become like both the bamboo plant and the seedlings in my windowsill, and we will before know it, reap an abundant harvest that was worthy of our patience.