Watering the Bamboo

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  • Many of us are heralding the arrival of the new year by making a New Year’s resolution or two. Unfortunately, for the vast majority, the annual attempt to start fresh and turn over a new leaf will fail. But don’t despair.

    After more than a dozen years of working with and studying successful people, teams and organizations, I believe giant timber bamboo farmers can teach us a lot about what it takes to make our resolutions stick.

    If you water giant timber bamboo in the first year, nothing happens. If you water the second year, nothing happens. If you water the third year, nothing happens. But when you water the bamboo the fourth year, it will rocket up an astonishing 90 feet in only 60 days.

    You see, Water the Bamboo is a metaphor for success based on the contention that success is fueled by creating unshakable motivation and persistence, developing laser-like focus to avoid distractions, and being fully committed to pursuing your goal.

    With that in mind, I offer you these insights to help you kick aside the “woulda, coulda and shoulda’s” and make this year’s resolutions stick:

    • Bamboo-by-Henry-Burrows-450x224Have a compelling vision of what you want to achieve.
      After all, if you don’t know what you are working towards, how will you know whether you’re making progress?
    • Delineate goals.
      Pinpointing mini-goals helps ensure you get where you want to go. Instead of setting out to exercise every day of the week for an hour, commit to exercising for ten minutes five times a week. Then, once you get in the habit of fulfilling this mini goal, increasing it by ten minutes will be easier since you have already begun forming the habit of exercise.
    • Believe in yourself and your vision.
      Whether you believe you will be successful or you believe you won’t — you’re right. Believing will give you the energy and effort to achieve success.
    • Strengthen supportive relationships.
      No person is an island. Make a list of the people who can help you achieve your goal and work on keeping those relationships strong.
    • Have self-discipline.
      As Theodore Roosevelt said, “With self-discipline, most anything is possible.” Great achievement and success are largely the consequence of self-discipline.
    • Will it to happen.
      “I will” are two very powerful words. Wanting something to happen is one thing; willing something to happen is quite another.
    • Be optimistic.
      Successful people don’t throw pity parties. They see challenges as opportunities. They focus on creating solutions amidst the obstacles. They remain hopeful, energetic, and motivated in the face of “negaholics.”
    • Commit.
      Commitment is the bridge between desire and accomplishment. Making resolutions stick takes unwavering commitment and adopting a non-negotiable approach to reaching your goal. No excuses, no holding back, no sabotaging your own success.

    Resolutions are great, but making them a reality is better. Today is someday. Let’s start watering!

    Photo Credit: Henry Burrows

    Greg Bell

    The author of Water the Bamboo: Unleashing the Potential of Teams and Individuals, Greg has inspired thousands of teams and individuals to identify and water their bamboo to remarkable results.

    View all posts by Greg Bell.

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