Grow Where You’re Planted

By Clyde C. Lowstuter

I often find myself caught in the paradox of patience versus action. On one hand, patience is often the key to breakthrough insights and aids coaching clients in their life/career transformations. When working with others it is easy to see how slowing down helps them to explore the nuances of their interpersonal relationships and life aspirations. Change takes time. On the other hand, I can be really impatient with myself. When I set a goal, I am itching to act. I want to do more in less time.

My recent book, 35 Truths, took much longer than I thought. 35 perspectives – what’s the big deal? I live and breathe this stuff; I can whip the book out over a long weekend! 18 months later, it was done and I couldn’t be more proud.

Recently, I was juggling several demanding projects and I found myself growing frustrated with the time/action paradox of my own making. During a trip to visit our West Coast family, I walked along a path in the bamboo forest in Huntington Botanical Gardens. The bamboo grove towers 70 feet into the sky, blocking out the afternoon sun.


While I was there, I learned that some bamboo varietals often take 5 years or more after planting before above-ground growth appears. Before the plant can shoot skyward it must develop a significant root structure to support its pending massive growth spurt of more than 7 feet per year. That day I slowed down – and in the quiet, still space of the bamboo forest, I remembered that many things in life take time to develop and we can’t always rush that growth.

This type of slow but steady growth may resonate with you; nurturing and achieving mastery is more than merely putting in the time. Rather, you get to create your own significant root structure – by exploring, experimenting, examining, and evaluating.

How to start? Take a deep breath and lighten up. Learn to acknowledge and appreciate the patience of waiting for growth over time. When it does come, you’ll appreciate it much more. Indeed, your performance or career breakthroughs may not occur in years one, two, or three. Your massive epiphanies and peak performance may be in your fifth year. Slow down to soak up profound learnings, whenever they may be, so you may grow ever stronger and contribute more significantly to those around you. Best wishes for your root structure!


This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Mike Callaghan

    I agree, being methodical and thoughtful in developing a base allows you to be effective when it is time for action. I find at times it is important to let a opportunity or decision steep before taking action.

  2. Warren Anderson


    Life is indeed a process. At times I would encourage young physicians that they would be better doctors in ten years than they were in their youth. Experience is priceless.

  3. Shahmeen Sadiq

    Beautiful, Clyde. A powerful reminder that rich offerings need time to let all the flavours come together before they will “taste good” out there. Thank you for sharing your story with us! The image of the bamboo grove will stay with me as I work with my own impatience.

  4. Don O'Shea

    On the flip side, “When I speak to young people” I tell them there is no reason to stay in a job where you are not happy. You can truly do anything you want with your career.

    I’ve had an interesting experiences from drilling Oil wells, building cars, working my way up the Information technology elevator to owning a motorcycle dealership. Make yourself valuable, build confidence in your own ability surround yourself with the right people.

    I had a recent conversation with another entrepreneur. We were taking about careers. He looked at me and said “Why would you take the risk of working for a large company” In his mind, owning his own business was less risky than working for a large corporation where you don’t have control of your destiny. He has more confidence in his own ability despite this statistics associated in failure of small businesses. Don’t be afraid to build your skills to the point where more options are open to you.

  5. Ron Hirasawa

    Great simile, Clyde! It reminds me of an executive at one of the largest insurance companies in the world, who channeled his boredom and impatience into counterintuitively working in as many cross-functional departments as possible early in his career – sales, marketing, finance, operations, training – and when the company combed their ranks for someone to promote to a VP with many of his qualifications, he was the clear choice. The Japanese phrase, Naniwabushi – “preparing the roots”, comes to mind, as a series of steps towards a strong interpersonal relationship.

  6. Bob Weidner

    Clyde outstanding message!
    I personally am a newly planted person. I am taking time living life and enjoying every day. I am involved in opportunities where I feel I am making a difference in the lives of others.
    Your message reinforced where I am at. I am exploring and experimenting.

    Thank You for great thoughts.


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