Manage Change – Adapt Like Bamboo

Posted in: PSA Partnership

Each of our PSA Partnership webinars this year have built on the topic of how to successfully navigate change. In our final webinar of 2020, motivational keynote speaker and author Greg Bell, shared the metaphor of the bamboo farmer, and how practicing the characteristics of patience, persistence, self-discipline, courage, and belief in our personal and professional lives is key to adapting and growing during a time where everything is changing.  

Giant timber bamboo farmers plant seeds, water them for about five years, and see NO growth during that time. Finally, around the fifth year, the plants will sprout up and grow 90 feet in just 60 days. Talk about playing the long game! 


Change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is inevitable, and the ability to adapt has become more vital than ever. In a time where your growth opportunities may seem stinted, ask yourself, what was the bamboo plant doing during those five years of no results? It was growing the necessary roots to keep the plant standing strong when it was finally ready to break groundLikewise, the connections you make with your family, coworkers, and business community are rootsand while you cannot tangibly see themthey are vital to your success.  

Here are six practical steps from Bell’s presentation that you can implement now to help you “grow your roots and navigate change. 

  1. Write down what you can and can’t control
    In times of frustration, we are usually trying to change those things we can’t control (weather, pandemics, other people)—instead, make the choice to work on things within your control (your attitude, your diet, your response to situations) that align with your values and make you better. This type of investment is what will be helpful to you both now and in the future. 


  1. Make a game plan
    No matter who you are or what you do, COVID has changed your routineWhile you should not change your values due to circumstance, you likely need to reset your guiding principles. Start by creating a 90-day plan for your business and your family. You don’t have to have it all figured out, and it’s likely you’ll have to switch gears multiples times as this pandemic and its impact continue to evolve. As a leader, implement new guiding principles, such as leading with empathy and compassion, communicating frequently, clearly, and consistently, and encouraging rest and good mental health practices. 
  2. Free up time
    Contrary to the popular “to-do” list, Bell has a “do-not-do” list. Here is his formula for freeing up time in our lives we so desperately need: ask yourself what you should stop doing, because many of the things we spend time on aren’t effective. Then ask yourself what 20% of what’s left on the list to handle today and let the rest go. Lastly, ask yourself what you should continue to do—what’s working? Essentially, stop trying to do EVERYTHING.  
  3. Ask yourself what’s going well
    Take the time to periodically ask yourself what’s going well. Where you put your energy and focus are important to navigate changeAnother tactic to get in a more positive headspace is to cut down on the time you spend complaining. Only allow yourself a certain amount of time to complain each day (for example, one minute), and then move forward out of that space by focusing on positive things 
  4. Check your language
    How you talk to yourself, your partner, your coworkers, and your community is importantBell shared that over 90% of your conversations are with yourself. Thus, your language determines how you think, which determines what you believe, which determines your actions, which creates realityHe stressed, If you don’t think positively, how can you believe positively? Work hard on your language and how you speak about your future


  1. Adjust your support for your employees with different needs
    As a leader—have high expectations but provide high support. Everyone operates differently, provides different value to your organization, and needs a different type of support. Navigating change is difficult for everyone, and there are several different stages to accepting change. Gather information on where your employees stand, and then figure out how to support them in whatever stage. 


When the giant timber bamboo finally grows, it also sheds. What are you holding onto in your business model, work culture, or way of thinking/speaking that might be holding you back from growingWhat do you need to let go of to move forward and have the future you want?  

In times of crisis or stinted growth, remember the bamboo farmer mentality. Pick an idea, plant it, and water it—but remember, imay take a while to grow.  

At PSA, our network of community roots is at the center of all we do. If we can be of any assistance in your journey of navigating change, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at jhoffman@psafinancial.comPlease also leverage our COVID-19 Business Resources for relevant updates and educational materials regarding the pandemic. 

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