Artist Living

The Chinese Bamboo Tree: Looking for Growth

Me Ra Koh

Have you ever found yourself looking for growth after all the hard work you’ve done, and yet find no sign of progress?  If yes, you will love the story of the Chinese Bamboo Tree.

Chinese Bamboo Tree, Bamboo Against Wall, Me Ra Koh

The story comes from an excerpt out of a book called Flourish. This is one of two books that I’m sending our teachers for summer reading that is intended to enrich their soul and replenish their creative spirits.  We all need to be reminded that outward progress doesn’t necessarily reflect or measure inward progress.

Zig Ziglar tells the story of the Chinese Bamboo tree.  When this particular seed is planted, watered and nurtured, for years it doesn’t outwardly grow as much as an inch.  Nothing happens for the first year.  There’s no sign of growth.  Not even a hint.  The same thing happens – or doesn’t happen – the second year.  And then the third year.  The tree is carefully watered and fertilized each year, but nothing shows.  No growth.  No anything.  So it goes as the sun rises and sets for four solid years.  The farmer and his wife have nothing tangible to show for this labor or effort.  Then, along comes year five.  After five years of fertilizing and watering have passed, with nothing to show for it – the bamboo tree suddenly sprouts and grows eighty feet in just SIX WEEKS!

Did the little tree lie dormant for four years only to grow exponentially in the fifth?  Or, was the little tree growing underground, developing a root system strong enough to support its potential for outward growth in the fifth year and beyond?  The answer is, of course, obvious.  Had the tree not developed a strong unseen foundation it could not have sustained its life as it grew.”

Your dreams, no matter how big, are not in vain.  Just because you don’t see signs of progress now, do not grow weary in continuing to build, to give it everything you have heart and soul.  Even though overly critical friends remind you of how much easier it would be to give up, be more realistic, more practical, or find a new passion…choose to believe that growth is happening underground.  A root system is being formed within your life, the kind of roots will outlast storms because of the hard work and commitment it’s taken to stand in faith for something it cannot easily prove or qualify.

We’ve been spending a lot of time on photo tips and techniques the last several weeks.  This week, I want to dive into the heart with you.  You can join my teachers in their summer reading by purchasing your own copies of the two books; Work Happily Ever-After and Flourish. It is a complete honor to have contributed to both of these powerful books: one that challenges your business and branding in a life changing way and the other book that is replenishing to the creative spirit by inspiring and renewing your heart.

My own heart is churning over new challenges that are being set before me.  When this happens old fears and doubts rise to the surface, and I need to daily refresh my heart in what is true–whether I can visibly see it or not.  As I process with you this week, may your heart find refreshment too.




  1. Julie Watts says:

    This post is SO timely…there are so many things in life that are slow and gradual and visible, and so many other things that are, by design, meant to lunge forward at great pace and pulse at their own beat. I always feel better when I’m reminded to think of this and not expect progress or development to be happen in full sun when it’s really happening in the shadows…. 🙂

  2. Andrea S says:

    Thank you, Me Ra! I see and feel this in a couple of areas of my life right now, and I appreciate the reassurance that this time is not wasted…it’s the necessary preparation for what is to come.

  3. Me Ra says:

    Julie and Andrea, (and all the beautiful ladies who have liked this post), I’m so GLAD this post gave to you! The story is so simple and incredibly encouraging to my own heart. Love you!!!