One of my favourite Chinese fables to share with my students is the story of the bamboo farmer. They really love it and find great meaning when we discuss it together. I highly recommend to all parents to give this short, but powerful story a read at home with your own children.
Once upon a time there was a farmer. He lived in a farming community and had farmed traditional crops like corn and wheat like his neighbours all of his life. But this farmer wanted more than what his neighbours had and he went about researching alternative crops. Sound familiar?
After studying a variety of options, he decided on bamboo. The climate, soil conditions and equipment at his disposal could make growing and harvesting bamboo a profitable business. He was convinced he was making the wisest choice and began making the changes needed to become a bamboo farmer.
You can only imagine how the idea of growing bamboo was received. Upon telling his fellow farmers his idea, they mocked him. They called him foolish, all the time warning him of his impending peril. Have you ever felt like this when you set out to do something different? However, our farmer remained unshaken. He had done extensive research and was confident of his knowledge. Well, if you know anything about bamboo, you know that the first year it’s been planted…nothing happens. You don’t get so much as a twig or a leaf! His neighbours were ruthless. They had all harvested their crops while he had nothing at all to show for his efforts. He was undaunted and confident in his knowledge. But wait, the second year nothing happens either, not a sign of a bamboo tree anywhere. Again he was forced to endure a second year of ridicule by his heartless neighbours. And a third and a fourth….
Then suddenly, his crop grew a foot a day! By the end of the fifth summer he had a veritable bamboo forest. He harvested his crop and sold it for a huge profit. His neighbours were astonished. It looked as if it happened overnight. Or so it seemed. Did the little trees lie dormant for four years only to grow exponentially in the fifth? Or, were they silently growing underground, developing a root system strong enough to support its potential for outward growth in the fifth year and beyond? The answer is, of course, obvious. Had the trees not developed a strong unseen foundation, they could not have sustained their life as they grew. Had the farmer not continued to nourish and love the farm with his implicit faith, they would have died without ever seeing the sun’s love.
The same principle is true for people. People, who patiently toil toward worthwhile dreams and goals, building strong character while overcoming adversity and challenge, grow the strong internal foundation to handle success. While many of us never really stay long enough to endure adversities and learn from them. You see, the more we develop our skills the more we grow as a person and the more we can help others to pass through the tests of adversities.
This story teaches us two lessons. First, when you have knowledge, you have tremendous power. Knowledge gives you confidence to pursue your dreams and goals…regardless of what others think. Throughout history our most prolific leaders, inventors and businessmen were very often the subject of ridicule by their peers. It was their faith and single-minded purposefulness that drove them to persevere and ultimately achieve their dreams.
The second lesson is that just because we don’t see immediate progress, doesn’t mean we should give up. The reason the bamboo tree doesn’t grow until the third season is because it spends the first few years growing roots, building a foundation so that when it is ready to grow it will have the stability to stand tall reaching tremendous heights.
Without those roots, the tree would fall over with the first strong wind. Had the farmer lost faith, had he not had confidence in his knowledge, he might have tilled the crop under during the first or second year and created disaster for himself and his family.
Our children are like the precious bamboo crop. They need to build strong roots and solid foundation to build upon. Their nourishment is knowledge and guidance. We must be patient and trust that under the proper conditions they will thrive and grow very tall and strong. At K2 Martial Arts we understand the underlining value of the bamboo farmer story. Our primary goal is to help children develop strong roots (character) within the community and their family. We understand the value of real nourishment (knowledge and academics) – that’s why our programs and classes are directly tied to academic success.
We, like the bamboo farmer, know to be successful one must be patient and trust in his or her knowledge even in the face of adversity. We understand the value of teaching children to persevere. They will be challenged at our school and taught to overcome those challenges: a lifeskill they will carry with them for the rest of their days. Most of us give up somewhere between. We need to trust and persevere! We only ever fail when we give up!