Slow and Steady Growth


You can probably tell by now that my experience with the Japanese Maple tree changed me. (Read about it here if you haven’t, yet) This story will probably rear its head again in a future post, but for now, I have just one more profound lesson from that fateful day- a lesson I learned from the actual tree itself.

Over the three decades since it was planted as just a sapling, our Japanese Maple grew relatively unappreciated into a tall, majestic, remarkable tree. It flourished through weather, pests and even disease. Over time, little by little, it grew. While the tree grew without my attention, it didn’t grow on its own. My now elderly Japanese father intermittently and quietly nurtured this maple during his cross-country visits. Obviously, from my story, I didn’t even know this was going on, but my father’s careful attention involved timely pruning, fertilizing, mulching and even training the trunk and proximal branches with strategically positioned strings and stakes. I guess I should’ve gotten the hint when all my neighbors would ask me for the contact information for our asian gardener!

Though I was not the one putting time and effort into our tree, I was able to reap the rewards of that steadfast, patient expert care. This concept was a perfect illustration for me of growing my “what.” If you’ll remember from my previous post, your “what” is one of the means to accomplishing your “why.” Growing your “what” is much like the growth of my maple tree – slow and steady under the careful attention of an expert. While arborism is not my superpower, it was my dad’s.

If you want to grow your “what”, you can follow the model of my Japanese maple:

  1. Find and trust an expert.
  2. Learn what you don’t know and work with your expert as a team. Then 1+1=3!
  3. Don’t worry about your “tree.” Just let it grow.

For a moment, let me expound on number three. Don’t worry about your “tree.” One day you’re going to wake up and recognize that your “what“ tree has been growing tall over time. Since before the Great Depression, there has been plenty of “weather,” “pests” and “disease” that could have stifled the growth of the “trees” (21 bear markets). But, if you look at history, even just $1 invested then still grew to $5,929.1 Because of what you have invested in yourself through education, hard work, and an expert team, your tree will be tall- much taller than the average person’s. American median net worth peaks in our late 60’s or early 70’s at $266,400!2  In 2022, 57% of physicians have a net worth of a million dollars or more, and the rate of growth is faster than the average American family growth.3 Your annual income puts you way ahead of the game, especially with the expert “arborist” helping you. So, take that worry off your plate and focus on the blooms, fruit, and nuts your tree bears.

 Growing the “what” is the easy part. Though harvesting the “why” is the harder part, if you can learn to pair the two – growing and harvesting- that will turn you from rich to wealthy.

Talk soon.


*Terance Tsue MD FACS, as Manager of TTTsue LLC

1Bhutta, N., Bricker, J., Change, A.C. Et al: “Changes in U.S. family finances from 2016-2019: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances” Federal Reserve Bulletin 106(5), September 2020.

2Jakab, S.: “Reasons to be optimistic about stocks”, Wall Street Journal: Investing Challenge, March 29, 2023.

3 Medscape Physician Wealth & Debt Report 2022: How Did a Tough Year Add Up?