I almost didn’t see it there hiding in the leaves. But there in my garden was something small that I really didn’t expect – a baby watermelon – only about the size of a large apricot. Earlier this summer I had given up on the handful of seeds that I had haphazardly planted. I tried to remember to water the seeds but seemingly to no avail. I resigned myself to a watermelon-less garden this year and promised myself I’d remember to plant earlier next time.

Then one day green shoots popped up through the ground and greeted me when I checked on my garden.   Now unexpectedly a baby watermelon has appeared. Despite its current size, I recognized that what started out as just a small seed was well on its way to becoming something much bigger.

The same day I celebrated my baby fruit, I heard the story of the Chinese bamboo plant and how it is nurtured in the ground for up to five years before their tiny shoot breaks through the ground. While their growth isn’t seen above the soil, the plant spends a disproportionate amount of its growing time establishing its roots before breaking the surface. Then after five long years, the plant rockets up, growing as tall as 90 feet in just five weeks.  We can learn a lot from a bamboo plant’s journey.

5 encouraging reminders for life inspired by the bamboo plant:

1. Not all progress is visible.

I can’t imagine waiting for five years to see a small green shoot break through the soil’s surface. But, sometimes life is just like that. We dream big. We nurture our aspirations and suddenly we feel our attitude begin to shift. Yet despite our internal shift, we can become discouraged by ourselves or by others who don’t “see” the outward benefits of our choices. Don’t be discouraged during the seasons that progress isn’t  visible. Stay the course. Continue to water your dreams despite doubters and discouragers.

2. To grow tall, you need strong roots.

A 90 foot bamboo would topple over with the first light wind if it didn’t have a developed root system. Don’t push to grow faster than your foundational roots. Nurture your faith. Understand your values. Grow deep so that when you grow tall you can withstand the storms that will come.

3. Choices foster growth.

Daily choices add up. If we want a garden to grow, we must water and weed to provide the right environment. In our lives, our choices foster growth or they stunt it. Choose to develop positive habits that enable you to grow taller, impact further and increase your reach.

4. Don’t give up.

The five week journey to a 90 foot bamboo plant cannot occur without the five year journey first. Imagine if the farmer gave up on year two or on year five minus one day. It would be a journey of “almost.” In life, we are often closer to our breakthrough than we think. Don’t let your dream die just beyond your reach. Persevere. Don’t quit. Keep going so that when it is your season, you can soar.

5. Small now doesn’t mean always small.

I cheered for my bite-sized watermelon because I know it will grow into something much bigger. The bamboo plant hidden beneath the earth soil is an even smaller portion of what it will once be. Don’t be discouraged by where you are today. Continue to take the next step. Pursue a growth mindset and know that small today doesn’t mean small always.

Have you ever been discouraged when you didn’t see progress fast enough? The next time you feel that way, remember the bamboo plant. Then, nurture your goal, take the next step, deepen your roots, and repeat. In your season my friend, you will soar! Click to comment and join the conversation. I’d love to hear what you think!

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I invite you to enjoy a short video about the bamboo tree: Les Brown – “Chinese Bamboo Tree”

Until next time friend, be blessed!