The Bamboo Effect

Nothing makes for a better story than someone’s overnight success. The world is filled with overnight success stories and we secretly all want our own overnight success story. The reality however is that there is no such thing as an overnight success. Never was and never will be.

According to the World Genius Record Association Bamboo is the world’s fastest-growing plant at a rate of up to 91 cm in only one day. Phenomenal?Maybe. The truth is that the bamboo plant takes up to 5 years to sprout! It takes 5 years of beneath-the-surface work before the miracle growth occurs.

As with a bamboo plant, the world seldom sees the hard work and dedication that has been done for years before someone becomes an overnight success. James Clear writes in his book Atomic Habits about the Valley of Disappointment. When we start a new habit we expect linear growth. This is the part where most people give up. We live in a world where instant is king. Promising instant results can earn you a fortune. We take diet pills because we want to skip the slog of changing our bad diet rituals, not the mention the thought of getting up at 04:30 to fit in exercise before a busy day at the office.

I still remember my late dad saying ‘if it was easy, everyone would do it.  ‘Malcolm Gladwell writes in his award-winning book The Tipping Point, that it takes only one small progression to change your world forever. This fits in perfectly with what James Clear professes in Atomic Habits. Habits often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold and unlock a new level of performance.

If you can work your mind around the frustration of not seeing progress, you are well on your way to that magical overnight success awaiting you somewhere in the near future. Get yourself to fall in love with the process, rather than delaying your happiness until you reach your goal. Remind yourself that the outside world only sees the dramatic event and that this is true for every single human being on earth.

Do you need copious amounts of willpower to break through this plateau? Joseph Murphy, the author of The Power of the Subconscious Mind, believes that using willpower is counterproductive. His theory revolves around the fact that miracles will happen if you use the power of your subconscious mind. It’s all about reprogramming your mind.

Every success story starts with planting the seed. Believe in your process without expecting overnight growth. In fact, expect not to see any progress. Expect those who started the journey with you to fall by the wayside. Keep on watering your invincible bamboo plant.

Five years might seem like an eternity at the time, but before you know it, your hope of a bamboo growth spurt will unfold before your eyes into the overnight success that you have been preparing for. 


Christél Rosslee-Venter is a business coach, marketing consultant, content creator, author, and speaker with almost 30 years of experience in the marketing and advertising industry.

Skilled in strategic marketing planning & execution for entrepreneurs, nothing excites her more than seeing her clients get unstuck and start to grow (again)

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