The world is filled with people offering success at little to no effort. Don’t be fooled by it. I’ll explain why in this analogy between the maple tree and an army of weeds.
There’s No Overnight Success: The Story of the Maple and the Weeds
It takes 20 years to become an overnight success.
– Eddie Cantor
The battle carries on in my front lawn. Every year, the slow and steady Japanese maple I planted years ago must compete against the horde of weeds that spring out of nowhere.
Though five years old, the maple stretches a measly two-foot tall. It must watch as aggressive weeds surge to its height, threatening to attack with their insidious weeds army.
My wife urges me to smite the invaders with my own army of lawn tools; however, I brush off her commands using allergies as my excuse. It works every time.
And so, the weed armies make camp on my lawn, but I don’t give it a mind. Because I know that at the end of the season, the hordes will wither and die, whereas my trusty maple would have grown half a foot taller. Its roots would have dug a foot deeper, and its trunk grown stronger and sturdier.
Years from now, the maple will tower above the invading hordes. It will blot out the sun and kill my enemies without me lifting a finger.
Die, weeds! Die!
Okay, this article just took a strange and violent turn. Simply put: I really do hate weeds, and I do really have debilitating allergies. And so I wait for the day my maple will rise and bring me glory.
This is a silly story, but it does have an analogy to life and success.
The maple sees far
Sustained success takes time.
The maple tree in the story represents this success. It doesn’t explode onto the scene out of nowhere. In the first two years, it spends all the energy establishing a healthy root system, digging deep into the ground. Then, year after year, it builds onto that strong foundation with durable rungs around its trunk.
It grows a fraction of an inch at a time, but each layer is reinforced with the finest fiber. As such, it’s able to withstand the harsh winter. And with each winter that passes, it builds resiliency. Its growth comes from strength and character, having fought off winter’s icy grips.
The maple prepares for the long future ahead, not just two seasons in the sun.
Just like the maple, your success should be built on a solid foundation. This strength takes time to harness. You need to learn and master the basics. It will take a lot of time and you might be wondering why you can’t skip to the super cool master course.
For most things in life, the super cool master techniques are basic moves in complex combinations. If you haven’t mastered the basics, your advanced moves will be superficial at best.
When you take time to master your craft, you build experience and resiliency through failures. You learn from them. You learn to spot traps, tricks, and potential problems. You learn to deal with difficulties because your foundation is rock solid. And because of it, you don’t wither at the first sign of trouble.
I can’t simply snap a maple tree in half or yank it straight out of the ground. It would require deliberate and extreme effort. And even then, I wouldn’t be able to do it.
Shouldn’t your career and life be rooted by a strong foundation like that of the maple tree’s roots? When someone tries to knock you down, you can stand your ground.
Take the time to build the foundation. Everything else depends on it.
Don’t be like the weed
So what about the weed? It certainly has the flare that captivates us, sprouting from nothing and growing exponentially in record time. But beneath that growth is a shallow and weak foundation, one that can be uprooted simply and easily.
It doesn’t require much effort to kill a weed. Why, I could simply snap it in two at its base. And since it didn’t take the time to reinforce its limbs, it withers at the first frost.
There seems to be many people selling success for next to nothing. They will offer you the easy way. “All you need to do is invest in this company for a 10,000% return in two years,” or “Watch this series of videos and you too could make tens of thousands of dollars influencing others,” or etc.
It sounds tempting. Some people do make it. But the success is most oftentimes short-lived.
Weeds come and go every year. They flash brightly for a moment then fade away into the abyss.
I’d rather take my time to build an empire than to create a fleeting uprising that’s quelled in a moment’s time… and forgotten quickly thereafter.
Confronted with a choice, I urge you: take the time to build a strong foundation like the maple tree, and live long and prosperous.