The Nine Principles of the Vines

Because Life's a Jungle Out There!

The Nine Principles of the Vines

It’s a jungle out there.


Just ask Tarzan.


Ever since Edgar Rice Burroughs introduced us to the fictional feral jungle boy who grew to become the protector of Africa, we discovered the best way to navigate through the perils of a jungle.




Tarzan learned this technique from the band of apes that raised him. Years later he passed this skill on to his flying partner, Jane.


In the more than 40 books and 200 movies created around this character since 1912, they all have had one thing in common—Tarzan’s choice of transportation to get from Point A to Point B was a sequence of vines.


High above the ground, and under the cover of lush jungle trees, Tarzan could observe approaching threats from man, beast, or nature and calculate the fastest route through the tropical forest to diffuse the situation. A tight grip on a vine, a leap of faith, and Tarzan was off and swinging from a gauntlet of vines toward his predetermined destination.


Chances are you and I were not raised by apes in a jungle, so we will never know the thrill of gliding through flora and fauna of a rainforest wearing nothing but a loin cloth—with a beautiful girl on one arm and a mischievous chimp on the other.


No. Our jungle is totally different than the one Tarzan faced.


Our “jungle out there” is the tangled perilous obstacles of the real world that come between where we are and where we’d like to be. We often can’t see the rain forest or the trees because of the complicated ecosystem of our personal and professional life—expressed in our talent, work, goals, success, and self-betterment. 


So if Tarzan successfully navigated through his jungle, why can’t we navigate safely through ours? His story provides nine basic principles that should help motivate us to take the risk, and gain the knowledge and experience, needed to move forward in our lives—both personally and professionally.  


Here is a highly condensed look at the material I have created entitled, The Principles of the Vines!


Principle One: You Must Be Willing to Take the First Leap


You’re up a tree. And let’s face it—you are reluctant to leave. I get it. You’ve built a comfortable tree house. But you keep looking out beyond your tree house to something that has captured your attention, your curiosity, and your interest. Reality has set in. You want more. You want to be there. But you can’t go there unless you leave here.


Sadly, many people build a comfortable tree house and never leave. They reside in a risk free, worry free, or work free environment. You see, the higher the tree house, the longer you’ve lived there. As the tree grows, lifting your tree house higher from the ground below, your courage shrinks, making the chances of you taking a risk lower.


So you have a decision to make. Be safe, stay put, and settle with what you have, or take a RISK. Most of us aren’t afraid of risk but of failure. Focus on what you will gain, not on what you could lose when you take a leap of faith. It’s the first action needed to begin your journey to new horizons and adventures awaiting you.


Now that you’re ready to move forward with your life . . .


Principle Two: Learn to Choose the Right Vines


Choosing the right vines will take time! Don’t be surprised if the first vine you choose lets you down. Until you learn to choose the right vines, you will become quite familiar with the jungle floor. If this is not okay with you, then crawl right back up in your tree house!


Vines in every shape, size, and color thread themselves through the jungle. And though they all may look capable, not all will hold the weight of your desires. It might take a few tumbles to learn to be a good judge of vines, but this is part of the process. This EXPERIENCE will teach you which vines can hold your dreams and successfully transport you to your destination.


Yes, choosing the right vine can be tricky at first. The selection process is arduous. But before you know it, you will master the art of the vine and become a “Tarzologist” in no time.


Principle Three: The Vine You’re Swinging From Will Only Take You So Far

You’re ready to move forward with your life. You’ve chosen a vine, got a tight grip on it, taken a deep breath and a big leap, and you’re off to a great start. The first moments of your new journey take your breath away. You’re doing it! And then reality sets in . . . “The vine I’m swinging on will only take me so far!”


That’s right. GROWTH is a series of moves, not just the first move you make. Though you gain progress on your journey, there is a point where each vine reaches its limit. With the distance covered and the capacity capped, you will have to make another move toward your goal.

One good move leads to another and so it is with The Principles of the Vines. It will be a series of vines that successfully takes you through your jungle. You just have to be brave enough to keep reaching out to the next thing that will propel you forward!


Principle Four: You Can’t Move Forward Until You’re Willing to Reach Out


When the vine you’re swinging from has reached its usefulness, you must be willing to reach out for the next vine. However, this move is easier said than done. It takes a great deal of COURAGE to reach out for whatever it is you now require. Hanging on feels safer, but you are literally at the end of your rope! Do something!


Lean in! Lean forward. Reach out for what’s next! This step is the more physical aspect of moving on with your life, as it requires decisive physical action of some sort. It may simply be following the next step in a plan, or taking on a greater challenge such as engaging in additional training, education, or leadership roles. Perhaps you have to reach out to someone else for help, advice, assistance, or financial backing. Whatever you choose to be the vehicle to take you further in life, you must find the courage to reach out and grab a hold of it.


And then, be prepared to let go!


Principle Five: You Can’t Move Forward Until You’re Willing to Let Go 


If reaching out is the physical aspect of moving forward with your life, letting go is the emotional counterpart. Letting go of what you’ve done, how you’ve done it, what you’re comfortable with, and what has worked so far is tough to let go of. Though you have gained invaluable ground (wisdom and experience), now a measure of MATURITY is required. It takes a great deal of maturity to recognize that what brought you here will take you no further.


You don’t have to fear letting go—you’ve been doing it your whole life. Every next step in life has required an emotional separation from that which felt comfortable before. From the familiar to unfamiliar, stable to unstable, easy to difficult, it’s all a part of the process. Maturity comes when you accept it is time to emotionally grow up and put on the bigger, more developed version of you.


Principle Six: Just Because You’re Moving Doesn’t Mean You’re Getting Anywhere


It’s great to be moving forward. You’re soaring to new heights and this gives you a great sense of accomplishment. You’ve mastered the discipline of reaching out and letting go. You’re happy with your progress and content with your growth.


But at a certain point REALITY sets in—though you’re moving, you have ceased to move forward. Every vine has its limit and this one has reached it. Now you are swinging back and forth aimlessly. Just because you’re moving doesn’t mean you’re getting anywhere.


Many of us are hooked on the motion, emotion, and commotion of our lives. This activity gives us a false sense that we are going somewhere. But often we are not. We are creatures of comfort and habit; and when we find something that works, we hang on to it for dear life . . . even when it ceases to no longer be productive. “Going in circles” with mindless activity will either lull us into complacency or make us sick of what we are doing.


It’s time to set a new course.


Principle Seven: You Can Only Be Going in One Direction at a Time


Funny thing about direction: It can only be pointing in one way. You cannot go forward as you are going backward; nor can you go left when you need to go right. It is impossible to move upward as you are moving downward. Though you may feel you are scattered in your approach to your goal, in all actuality, you are either going toward it or away from it.


Though the Tarzan approach through life’s jungle may appear random and serendipitous, don’t be fooled. To get from Point A to Point B you need a PLAN. A plan keeps you focused, decisive, and successful. If you are not gaining ground in one clear focus in your life, chances are you are trying to navigate your jungle without a plan.


There is something powerful about having a clear plan for where you’re going, how you will get there, and when you plan to arrive. Clear direction not only gives you a course of action but a confidence that will lead to peace of mind.


Principle Eight: You Have to Be Willing to Change Directions


Vines grow old. Branches snap. Trees whither. No big deal, unless the vitality of those things were key to your jungle express plan. What do you do when you’ve defined a clear direction but an unexpected obstacle blocks your path? You have to be willing to change directions!


Every Plan A should have a Plan B. Certainly you wouldn’t set a course that didn’t promise success, but often the problem is not with your plan but with outside factors over which you have no control. FLEXIBILITY in the way you approach solving these dilemmas will help you navigate around unexpected problems.


And here is the good news: Delays in getting to your goal can be cut to a minimum if you have been following The Principles of the Vines. Why? Because you took the time to plan before you began your journey. Remember, the further you plan ahead, the easier it is to change directions without losing precious time in your journey.


Principle Nine: Remember the Vines That Brought You Here


Wow! You did it! You freed yourself from the safety of your tree house, took a leap of faith, and then navigated to your goal by bravely reaching out from, and letting go of, vines you planned to bring you to your destination.


Sure, a celebration is in order! But, may I also suggest a bit of reflection, post arrival? It is so important to remember the vines that brought you here, because this WISDOM can be applied to new journeys ahead.


Often times we move from one adventure to the next without taking the time to review the process. Understanding what worked, what didn’t work, what we would do again, or what we would change, is best remembered immediately following the arrival to your goal. This wisdom is invaluable as you prepare to take the next leap of faith.


So, as we have learned, there is more we can learn from Tarzan other than fitness tips. Tarzan understood how to move his life forward, and he did so using The Principles of the Vines. Of course, he wouldn’t call it principles, just animalistic intuition, drive, effort, and persistence.


If you and I could hang out with Tarzan up on a high tree limb and ask him to share his secrets on how to best navigate through our jungle, what might he tell us?


I think he would simply say you have to be willing to take risks, learn through experience, and challenge yourself to go, and grow, further than you’ve ever gone before. He would tell us that you can’t move into the future without letting go of the past.


The Ape Man would warn us that just because we are busy doesn’t mean we’re being productive. And he might share from experience that it is impossible to move in more than one direction at a time, and that often, that direction must change.


And then I think Tarzan would grow quiet. He would stand up on that limb and look out over the horizon and settle into a state of deep reflection. And spoken not as a warrior but as a philosopher, he would point to the jungle below and simply say,


"See jungle? It didn’t conquer me, I conquered it."




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