How to grow confidence

October 31st 2020

This simple story has proven invaluable to help people understand how they can grow in confidence.


A group of farmers were each given some bamboo seeds.

They went away, each sewing their seeds and following the instructions to water them daily.  Day in, day out for weeks, each watered their seeds and tended the ground.

And nothing. No shoots, no signs of life.

One by one the farmers gave up,  each blaming the quality of the soil, or the fact the seeds must have been duds – all things that were nothing to do with them.

Except one farmer.  He continued.  Day in, day out, watering, tending.

And he soon started to experience ridicule from the other farmers.  Being told he was wasting his time, it was all pointless.

....but he kept on watering, day in, day out.

And then after months of this daily regimen, a sprout appeared.  And within days, a 10 foot plant was towering above the farmer.  The other farmers were no longer laughing at him!

What does this story suggest to you?

When this story was first told to me, the ‘moral’ was about not giving up.

And me being me….I did a bit of research and found that the principle of the story is true. I found a google article about one bamboo plant that takes 5 years between sewing and that sprout appearing, but then in 6 weeks you have an 80 ft plant.  The article posed the question: How long did it take the plant to grow?  Was it 6 weeks, or 5yrs, 6 weeks?

...and it was this question that led me to relating the story to anxiety

We live in a society that focuses on instant gratification.  People are encouraged to give up if results don’t happen in a very short space of time – meaning, like the seed, the results don’t get time to sprout.

And on top of that, we can feel ridiculed for persevering – a double whammy!

This has the impact of creating a fear of failure – one of the biggest sources of anxiety.

How can this story help with anxiety?

Firstly courage.  Courage to start may be required, and courage to then keep going despite what others are saying

Secondly consistency.  This, for me, is the key ingredient.  It may be something as simple as watering the seed, the key is doing it regularly.  At first it may be an effort, but anything you do consistently becomes easier until it becomes a habit – something you just do without thinking

....and the end result...

Confidence is much like that bamboo.  It may take a long time to sprout but when it does, it grows very quickly.

The moral of the story....

Next time you feel like giving up, think about the bamboo.  You may not be able to see the results yet but, just like the seed, there is something going on underground.

Keep going.  Keep doing what you do consistently, day in, day out.

And confidence will be your end product!

I’d love to hear what you take from this story.  For you is it about not giving up, or can you use this to help you with the resilience to just be consistent??

Caroline Cavanagh is an anxiety specialist based in Salisbury, Wiltshire.  She has a book, is a public speaker and loves helping people reduce anxiety.  She loves talking about what she does so feel free to contact her for a chat.

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