Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can cover the topic of motivation including the inspiring story of the Chinese Bamboo Tree at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of the above video is included below.


Full Video Transcript:

Hi and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. Today we’re going to tell the story of the Chinese bamboo tree, which is a story you may have heard of before and, in fact, I did a video recently which was entitled The Law of the Harvest which has a similar theme. But the Chinese bamboo tree has an amazing story because if you plant a seed of a Chinese bamboo tree, you can water that spot in the ground for five years without seeing a thing, without seeing anything over the course of five years. You don’t get any rewards for the labor you invest. But in that fifth year, when that bamboo sprout finally gets through the surface of the ground and starts to grow, it comes out of the ground at its full diameter and it can grow as much as four feet a day. And some of these, there are a lot of different varieties of bamboo, but some of these varieties can grow to be 90 feet tall and they can grow that tall in six weeks. So it is a dramatic growth. When it finally breaks the surface after five years, you haven’t seen anything for five years, in that fifth year all of a sudden it can break the surface and that tree, that bamboo—believe it or not bamboo is actually considered a grass but it sure looks like a tree when it’s 90 feet tall—it can get through the surface and it can grow four feet a day. Ninety feet tall, that’s like a nine-story building and it’s just a bamboo stalk! So, unbelievable growth.

Well, this is an amazing metaphor for life because growing roots is difficult. Sometimes you have to invest a lot of time, like years and years and years, before you see the results of your work, before you see the fruits of your labor. That process can be discouraging. That process is difficult. But the bottom line is that when you grow—see, during those five years, what’s actually happening? The root system is growing. The roots of that bamboo tree are growing under the ground and they’re forming a huge foundation, and when that foundation is in place all of a sudden, boom, it can rocket up very, very quickly. Well, that foundation is essential. It’s essential to your success. It’s essential to your long-term stability, is that root system.

A lot of times we see people who get their success too quickly. In some cases it happens in business but more commonly, I guess, you see this with young athletes or young music stars like rock stars and so on, or movie actors or TV actors because these are young people, and so they reach stardom in many cases very, very quickly. So at a very young age, they’re already on a global stage and making enormous amounts of money and living the celebrity lifestyle, and what happens many, many times? Not always, but many, many, times is you see those people struggle and crumble in other areas of their lives. Maybe it’s alcoholism or maybe it’s drug abuse or maybe there are other problems that emerge, but the bottom line is they don’t have that foundation. They don’t have their roots yet. Their tree grew before the roots had a chance to take hold, so that foundation isn’t there. And so as soon as one storm comes by and the wind comes by, that tree falls over. But meanwhile, if you grow those roots, if you invest the time and you invest all that effort, in some cases five years or even more…

I think about myself and my business as a speaker. It literally took six or seven years before I reached any type of stability. Any type of ongoing regular business with a regular income, again, it took me years to get back to that point. And this is true for many businesses. Perhaps it’s true for you as well. But the bottom line is those roots are what you need.

And life is difficult. Being in business, being self-employed is difficult sometimes. But that’s not always a bad thing because everyone else falls off. Everyone else, they don’t make it that far. They don’t keep going. They don’t keep standing. They give up along the way. And so by the time you actually reach the end, the end of that journey where that bamboo stalk finally comes out of the ground, now there’s no one else around. There’s no one else around because they gave up three years ago. They gave up four years ago or two years ago, or last year. But because you keep working, because you built that root system and you invested that energy, now you are there. Now you can enjoy the fruits of your labor and you can see that bamboo stalk grow 90 feet in six weeks. It can go very, very quickly.

I remember I told a friend of mine along the way, and I knew it was going to work this way and I said to her, “You know, when I turn the corner, I’m going to turn the corner fast,” and that’s exactly what happened. It’s exactly what happened. All of a sudden, I had enough things in place. My website and this video blog and the past experiences that I’d had and the books that I’ve published—I’ve published three books—all these different things, videos of other events I’d contributed to in the past, all the pieces were finally in place and when I turned that corner, it happened really, really quickly, and my income changed very, very quickly, my lifestyle changed very, very quickly, and my confidence changed very, very quickly because I finally saw that…

And I’m not at my destination—I have many more goals I want to achieved—but I saw finally that all that work, even though I hadn’t seen the results along the way, it was worthwhile. All that stuff was worthwhile because it all played a role in the final product. Some of those videos were from events I did way at the very beginning. One of them in particular I didn’t even get paid for—I spoke for free—but I got the video, and that video played a role in my turning the corner later on.

So when you look back in your life, maybe you’re on your journey right now, as we all are to one degree or another. We’re all on a journey. So maybe you’ve worked at something for two, three, four years, who knows? Maybe you’re just getting started. The things you do along the way, you may not see the fruits of your labor right away but if you keep working at it, keep working at it, let those roots grow, let that foundation grow, and eventually, by the time that tree, that bamboo stalk is ready to break the surface, you’re going to be ready for it and everything’s going to be in place and it can happen fast.

The story of the Chinese bamboo tree is motivational and metaphorical in so many ways and if you’re curious about it look for it on YouTube. There are tons of videos on this kind of stuff and you can find different aspects and different people telling this story, not just me, and I hope that you do that because frankly I’ve done that myself many times because it’s been inspiration for me and my journey.

Thanks so much for watching this video. My name is Patrick, reminding you as always to think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.

Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.