From Joshua Medcalf’s book, Chop Wood Carry Water:
“Many people love bamboo. They love the bamboo trees, and they love the bamboo wood, but very few people understand the process of growing bamboo. You dig up the soil and make sure it is good soil, and then you plant the bamboo seed. You then must faithfully water it every day. After three months, guess what starts to happen?
Nothing! You see absolutely nothing happening. You keep water it and watering it, but you continue to see nothing happening for one year, two years, then three years. Do you know what happens after three years?
Nothing! You see absolutely nothing.
What you don’t see happening is what is taking place beneath the surface. Beneath the surface, a massive, dense foundation of roots is spreading out all throughout the ground to prepare for the rapid growth that the bamboo will experience. So, you keep watering it and watering it, and eventually, after five years of seeing nothing at all happen above the surface, the bamboo tree shoots up to over ninety feet tall in just six weeks!
Most people want the ninety-foot-tall bamboo tree without the five years of the process. They want the bamboo to grow to ninety feet tall in six weeks, but without the five years of invisible growth, the bamboo wouldn’t have a solid foundation, and it could never sustain the massive and rapid growth that occurs.”
I see it every day, in all different places…and, in all different people.
Everyone wants the prize, whatever that prize may be: the six pack abs, the rock-solid-hot-&-steamy long-term relationship with their partner, the long life free of disease and doctors appointments and prescription medicines and nursing homes, the kids that genuinely love spending time with you and would rather hang out watching the game with you in the living room than in their bedroom with the door shut, the gap between their inner thighs accompanied by the rock hard ass that doesn’t jiggle when someone smacks it, and the 6 minute mile instead of the 8 or 9 minute mile that they’ve had since they stopped playing competitive sports.
But, the “prize” isn’t rewarded…for very long, at least…to those that who aren’t willing to demonstrate the often painfully challenging personality traits of consistency, commitment, humility, a hunger to learn, discipline in the face of temptation, unshaken work ethic, appreciation for adversity, and patience.
Most importantly, patience with the process.
Everything you do, every decision you make, and every thought you allow to reside in your head all contribute to your ability to move forward the road to your prize.
This includes, but is not limited to, all of the things that don’t seemingly have anything to do with your prize or the process that you would assume will get you there.
Your commitment to your squat program affects the quality of your relationship with your spouse.
You showing up for every one of your step child’s home lacrosse games gets you closer to your 1 mile run PR.
Your openness to coaching and criticism affects your ability to eliminate sugar from your diet for 3 months.
It’s all related, even though it doesn’t seem so on the surface.
You can’t get away with compartmentalizing prizes and goals in your life for very long before you realize that you will continue to hit walls until you’re willing to develop the whole person, and not just one part of the person.
Now, when you can fine tune your patience with the process, you can trust that your prizes will eventually come on as fierce as that of bamboo after years and years of commitment.
It all just contributes to your underground root system.