I often use the story below at the beginning of executive coaching engagements, particularly when coaching groups. These executives, especially my CEO executive coaching clients, have achieved a great deal by demanding and producing rapid results. Many results, however, require extraordinary diligence and patience. This “Bamboo Story” is a useful metaphor for individuals and teams out to produce significant and enduring new opportunities. [A free, single-page version of this executive coaching story is available by clicking here.]
A certain remarkable species of bamboo is cultivated in Asia. The root system is so complex that the farmer must water, fertilize, and weed for five years before the first shoot emerges from the ground. Imagine how this farmer must look to her neighbors: “Hey, how is your dirt crop coming along?” Season after season she sees others harvesting, eating, and selling their produce, while she labors for no visible result.
Once the root system is fully developed the first shoots emerge and the plants grow as high as 90 feet in a few weeks. The bamboo grows so quickly you can hear the rustle as the leaves spread. As anyone who has tried to remove a stand of bamboo knows, good luck stopping such growth once strong roots are established.
How do you tend to your root system?