Saturday, May 2, 2015


I am lucky to know many true professionals who exhibit all the qualities I mentioned in my professionalism checklist yesterday. These individuals care so much about what they do that they get discouraged when their efforts might not yield the results to which they aspire, or, at least, not as quickly as they might wish or expect.

To those individuals, I offer the peace I have come to in my own deliberations on that subject. All I can do is what I can do. I can put in my brick to build the cathedral. I don't have to finish the whole building on my own. I may not even see the structure finished. I can, however, pick a solid brick, make sure it fits with the pattern, make it straight, and mortar it well to last for a long time.

The story of the Chinese bamboo offers consolation to those for whom results seem slow in coming. I encountered this story in sessions with Jacqueline Caron, an educator of renown in Quebec, who passed away last year. Where she got it from, I don't know.

To grow bamboo, you must plant the seed, water it, and fertilize. The first year, nothing happens. The second year, you water and fertilize, and again, nothing happens. Same thing for year three and year four—nothing ever happens. During the fifth year, in less than six weeks, the bamboo grows 90 feet.

Did the bamboo grow 90 feet in six weeks or in five years? The answer has to be five years—because the seed would have died if, at any time during those five years, you had stopped watering and fertilizing.

Any change takes time, effort, and perseverance.

Et, en français :

Si on veut faire pousser un bambou, on plante la semence, on l'arrose et on la fertilise. La première année, rien ne se produit. La deuxième année, on l'arrose et la fertilise, et de nouveau, rien ne se produit. On répète les mêmes opérations la troisième et la quatrième année, et il ne se produit toujours rien. Au cours de la cinquième année, en moins de six semaines, la bambou pousse de quatre-vingt-dix pieds.

Le bambou a-t-il poussé de quatre-vingt-dix pieds en six semaines ou en cinq ans? Il faut répondre cinq ans, parce que la semence serait morte si, n'importe quand pendant ce cinq ans, on avait cessé de l'arroser et de la fertiliser.

Tout changement dans la culture d'une organisation exige du temps, de l'effort et de la persévérance.

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