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Surviving Your Family Jungle

Uncategorized May 29, 2023

If you are familiar with Tall Trees Profiles, Growing Kids with Character, Hettie Brittz, or the tree types, you will know that we talk much about the Rose Bush, the Pine Tree, the Boxwood Tree, and the Palm Tree. We call them our “basic” tree types, although we know that they are not basic at all. We do this to create common ground and provide a basis for understanding the tree types. Truth is, a very small percentage of people can be described as being 100% one tree type. 

Our statistics show that a very small percentage of people in the 13-year history of Tall Trees scored 18 out of 18 on just one Tree Type index, making them 100% one tree. Only 33% of teens and 37% of adults have one prominent Tree Type and can rightly call themselves Pines, Palms, Boxwood, or Roses. The majority of us (53% of adults and 55% of teens) are combinations of two Tree Types. The remaining 14% of teens and 8% of adults are what we call Contra-Trees (a combination of three trees). A Contra-Palm, for example, has traits of all the trees except Palm Trees. Blended trees are not the exception but the rule. 

Tree type blends exist because of a key truth: we are designed for a purpose. If we each had only one of four purposes built into our lives, there would be no need for the hybrid Tree Types. But now there is a need for blended personalities so that, for every purpose under heaven, there could be a person, couple, family, team, company, community, or nation who can say, "That is what we're made for!" 

In the light of the information above, this might be considered a stupid question: What if your family has different tree types in just one garden? Short answer to a stupid question - it becomes a jungle! Just like blended trees are not the exception but the rule, so are blended families!

In his poem The Law of the Jungle Rudyard Kipling says:

“Now this is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky; And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back —

For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.


But what happens if you don’t feel like a wolf or is seen as a wolf? Are you still part of the pack? Can you rely on the strength of the pack?

 In the favorite family story Jungle Book, also by Rudyard Kipling, we get to know Mowgli, a human boy adopted by a family of wolves. He sincerely wants to be a wolf and act like a wolf, but constantly gets the message that he is different. He is "too human" for the wolves and "too wolf" for the humans.

This rings very true for me. Thinking back on my family, I was like Mowgli in a family of wolves. The law of our family jungle: “Oh, just be a sport!” translated as “major trouble” to me. As the only one who hated surprises and mud fights, and instead of spending time with the family preferred the escapism of books, learning being a stickler rules, I was quite the spoke in the fun wheel. In hindsight I later realized that I was in a world of Boxwood pain surrounded by a mostly Palm family jungle.

During all the years facilitating and coaching with the different Tall Trees profiles, I discovered that all families are jungles on their own, with laws of their own. And most families have their Mowgli’s. 

Our new book Don’t Change Them; Grow Them will help you shed light on your own family jungle. And if you are not a reader, consider inviting one of our Tall Trees coaches to come and do a family workshop with you.

But in the meantime, here are some snapshots of the six combination trees to get you on your way in your family jungle. See if you can identify some family members: 


A combination of Pine and Rose who is deliberate, diplomatic, and balanced. Slogans to describe this tree type are "Let's just focus, people!" or "Stay the course!" or "To the top together."


A combination of Palm Tree and Pine Tree which make this tree type a vey people-oriented relational connector, defender, and advocate. Slogans for Pine-Palms are "All for one, and one for all!" or "We are human beings; not human doings."


This combination of Palm Tree and Rose Bush indicate a loud and proud, influential tree type with a larger-than-life presence. Slogans are "Go big or go home!" or "Work hard; play hard." 


This introverted combination of Boxwood and Pine Tree is deep, efficient, and quiet. Suitable slogans are "Always be careful!" or "Let's all work together." or "Work smarter, not harder."


This ambivert combination of Boxwood and Palm Tree is emotional, a very charming organizer, and can work and play in equal parts. Slogans that depict this tree type are "It's my party. I can cry if I want to!" or "Life is a roller-coaster." or "Do everything in style."


An ambivert combination of Boxwood and Rose Bush who is an achiever, a very disciplined developer of people and projects, and results-oriented. Slogans to describe this tree type are "I love it when a plan comes together!" and "Let's work first."


At Tall Trees we have our own “Laws of the Tree Type Jungle”: 

  •  Each person, like every tree, is unique even though they may share a Tree Type name with others
  • Trees each have a sweet spot where they ought to be planted and a climate that makes them thrive. Similarly, although peo­ple are adaptable, they have Fields of Greatness where it is easier to excel
  • Each tree is affected differently by adverse circumstances. Peo­ple can experience Frostbite too, and it differs for each tempera­ment.
  • Each one needs its own blend of Fertilizer and care. People come with a Tall Trees care manual too.
  • No two trees have the same challenges as the Fast Forward to growth. Neither do people. Each tree's pruning toward matu­rity looks different. Still, every personality type has an almost predictable path through their own type of hardship before they are full-grown
  • All Tree Types are called to lead. Leadership is the ability to know when to bow, when to stand tall, and when to dance with others. And the Forces Within each good leader leave an indelible mark on others


Just like some jungles seem impassable, difference is uncomfortable. But people are different because they are supposed to be! May the difference and discomfort you experience in your family jungle be a breeding ground for growth, healing, resilience and grace! 

Annatjie van Zyl & Hettie Brittz







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