At some point in our lives, we’ve all felt like we’re doing nothing but swimming upstream. You may be feeling like that right now. 

It may be a career goal that feels like it’s never going to come together, a health or fitness goal that just won’t click, or you’re fighting for a relationship or a cause and it feels like no one’s listening.

When that’s the case, think of the Chinese bamboo tree.

The seed of a Chinese bamboo tree takes five years to show any signs of growth.


For five years that seed is under the soil, taking in water and sunlight and nutrients from the dirt, without any signs of growth for the eye to see. 

Then, in the fifth year, the Chinese bamboo tree starts to grow…

…and grows 80 FEET in just six weeks!

What an amazing payoff for all the hard work that came before!

If a Chinese bamboo tree were like a lot of us, it would most likely get frustrated somewhere in year one and say, “Forget it! Nothing’s happening—I’m quitting.”

But luckily the Chinese bamboo tree doesn’t have emotions ?, so it just works away under the ground, developing the strong roots it needs to sustain the massive growth heading its way five years down the line.

Every minute of the work matters—it ALL contributes to the growth and change that finally becomes visible.

Most of us have had a “bamboo experience” at some point in our lives. 

It may have been in your business or with your career, or it may have been in a difficult relationship with a sibling, parent, child, or friend.

The common thread is that despite working your tail off and putting in the effort, it often feels like nothing is ever going to change for the better. It leaves you wondering if the results are going to show up or if maybe you’d be better off throwing in the towel.

It feels to me that our country is going through a “bamboo experience” right now, too.

That after years and YEARS of protests, anger, and sadness from the Black community about our country’s racial inequalities, along with countless deaths because of racism and police brutality, all of their work and all of their words are finally beginning to bear fruit.

Awareness is growing, people are listening, and change is happening now more than ever before.

It may be hard to see amidst the rioters and looters who are stealing a lot of the attention, but it’s there.

It’s in the story of the Michigan sheriff who put down his baton to walk together with protestors.

It’s in the story of a group of protesters who formed a human shield to protect a police officer who’d been separated from his unit.

And it’s in the stories of the throngs of people who are stepping forward to engage with racial justice issues for the very first time.

All of the blood, sweat, and tears that have come before have served a purpose—they were growing the roots that would be able to sustain (and will hopefully maintain) this season of rapid growth and change.

The Chinese bamboo tree serves as a great lesson for us all. When I think about it, it gives me hope.  

You might be struggling to get traction in your business…and it feels like you’re never going to catch a break.

You might be butting heads with your child or a loved one…and it feels like you’re never going to understand each other.

Or you might be fighting for a cause…and it feels like for every step forward you take several steps back.

Don’t get discouraged. You may very well be having a “bamboo experience” where the work is happening underground, and the roots that are needed to sustain the results you’re hoping for are busy growing stronger and stronger by the day.

You simply need to keep going.