Planting Bamboo

“One need not fear least strong will should not prevail; the main thing is not to expend one’s powers prematurely in an attempt to obtain by force something for which the time is not yet ripe.”
- Richard Wilhelm’s and Cary F. Baynes translation “I Ching: Or, Book of Changes”

There was a master gardener, who planted a small bamboo plant. The gardener was devoted to watering and caring for it. Although the gardener seemed pleased with the plant, when a regular visitor came to see the garden, the bamboo showed no apparent growth.

Upon a visit to the garden in the spring, the visitor finally couldn’t remain silent any longer. “You seem so pleased with your bamboo,” began the visitor, “but I don’t see why that’s so, this plant is showing no growth that I can see.” The master gardener just smiled and without saying a word, removed the dirt from around the base of the bamboo plant’s roots to repack them with fresh, nutrient-rich soil. As the gardener exposed the plant, the visitor was astonished to see a massive root system, which had developed under ground and out of sight. All of the bamboo’s growth had taken place under the surface. The visitor was also encouraged to see a small shoot growing toward the surface: a new plant…growing off the original bamboo plant.

In coming weeks, the visitor came by often to interact with the master gardener. Each time the visitor saw several small shoots visible above ground. Yet, the shoots remained small and insignificant. Thinking that the bamboo required more enriched soil, the visitor offered this suggestion. The master gardener only smiled and once again removed the dirt from the base of the insignificant plant. The visitor was flabbergasted! Beneath the surface was an extensive root system connected to the main plant with rhizomes which trailed intricately further and further away. The master gardener did not disturb the roots, but simply watered and fertilized the area.

A few weeks later, the visitor returned to the garden and was relieved to finally see a small plant, measuring several inches. The next morning the visitor returned to find the bamboo plant had grown more than a foot high! By week’s end, the plant was 2 feet tall, and by the end of the month, the plant was over 6 feet tall!

Coaches are the master gardeners in the lives of clients. Our clients may drop into our practice for encouragement, direction, and hope. Initially, they may conclude that the work we are doing is having no effect. They may think we are having little impact on their lives, yet we know, that over time, we are helping them to build a strong foundation…an intricate root system which will allow them to be fed and nurtured to become, a strong, self-sufficient, healthy, beautiful creation. Coaches help their clients:

  • Put down strong roots by assessing strengths, weaknesses, gifts, talents, motives, and desires of the heart.
  • By furnishing nutrients (knowledge, books, and the permission to dream) needed to grow into stronger, healthier persons.
  •  Face stormy weather when obstacles come which threaten to blow them down.

 [Coaching Questions]

  • What do you really, really want?
  • Who do you need to be to achieve your goals?
  • What keeps you from getting what you want?
  • What’s your buried treasure?
  • How are you giving change a chance?
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