I love the header photo of this blog. For some reason, I have a thing about trees. If you've seen the Understanding Yourself and Others books you'll notice that all the cover images are of leaves and trees.
I love looking at trees, especially in a natural setting. I love the textures, the different colors and the sounds when the wind blows through them. One of my workshop participants gave me a book on the healing power of trees. There does seem to be something healing about trees. When flying over Portland, Oregon and looking out the plane window, I commented to my colleague on how I loved the trees. She responded that I wasn't being very good to myself living in Southern California in a tract home with few trees. That was over 15 years ago and I still live in the same setting, but outside my window in my home office, I do have some trees to look at. So the trees in the photo are my dream of the kind of setting I'd like to live in. Maybe I will some day if my path takes me there. In the meantime, I treasure the visits I make to places where there are trees!
Years ago when we first bought our house, I studied up on landscaping and pruning since we were young and would be doing the yard work ourselves. I loved that there was information on how to prune so the natural growth pattern would still be honored. As we replace plants, I research them to see if they will soon outgrow their space. I find it painful when plants have to be pruned so much they lose their natural shape.
So what does this have to do with type? Trees are a powerful metaphor for helping understand what type is. There are two basic kinds of trees—conifers and broad leaf. (They tell me palms are a grass and not trees!). The essential qualities of each kind of tree are different. All conifers have waxy needles and produce cones. All broad leaf trees have flat leaves. Within each kind of tree are more kinds of trees, each with their own essential qualities. The pattern for the characteristics and growth of each kind of tree is there in the smallest sapling. When they are planted in an environment that gives them the light, water, and nutrients they need, they grow strong. Their unique character comes as the wind and other forces shape each one somewhat differently.
Like tress we all have a natural, innate pattern of growth in all aspects of our being. These patterns can be classified into types with certain essential characteristics that are required to maintain the innate pattern. We come into the world with a pattern potential to fulfill. And the world pushes against that pattern so we adapt and develop. This development can make us interesting and unlike any others of our type. Unlike trees, we can choose how we respond to those forces and that is a measure of our character.
So, like with the trees and plants in my yard, I like helping people understand and uncover what comes naturally to them and the various models of type help me do that.
I'd love to hear any thoughts this has evoked in you so please comment.