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An Introduction to The Enneagram

FIRST PUBLISHED:

July 8, 2021

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.”

— HENRY FORD

I first heard about the Enneagram in 2017, took the quiz, and filed my results alongside the Myers-Briggs and StrengthFinders tests for information that was nice to have at the time but quickly found its way out of my memory bank. Flash forward a few months, and I was in complete burn out. I had built my business for a few years, hustled as hard as I could, but had reached an emotional dead end. I was burning the candle at both ends. 

I couldn’t figure out why I continued to overwork or more importantly how to get out of the draining cycle of crash, rebuild, repeat. So I stopped. I went back to my personality test results to look for answers and see if there was anything at my core that I could change. When I got to the Enneagram… things began to get interesting.

Suddenly a world of understanding unfolded before me. I saw that nothing was accidental and that my strengths and inspirations had patterns. All of my behavior ties to who I am and how I view the world. I went down a rabbit hole to find out more about why I think and feel the way that I do, and what it means for my business and work-life as an extension of me.

Over the years as I’ve studied the Enneagram in a deeper and more intentional way, I’ve seen how many opportunities this strikingly helpful tool presents to me. Especially as a business owner. 

For example…

  • It gives me a foundation for knowing who to add to my team.
  • It gives me compassion for others in conflict-resolution situations
  • It allows me to understand my audience and clients in a new way
  • It gives me the self-awareness to know which opportunities were best suited to my strengths
  • It gives me an awareness of where I need to be held accountable

What Is The Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a nine-point model whose roots seem to first appear in Asia and the Middle East thousands of years ago. While the exact model doesn’t seem to have a clear history back to one founder, early teachers of the Enneagram came from Bolivia, Europe, and Chile. But in the early 1900’s, the system began to circulate outside of philosophy and theology schools and find its way to us in the western world.  

The system is startlingly accurate and gives insight into how people feel, think, and behave. It has deep psychological and spiritual complexities and has historically been used in the context of counseling and philosophy. The amazing thing about the Enneagram is that it gives insight into enduring truths about human character, from every culture and background, every age, gender, and season of life. It’s a tool for relating to anyone and better understanding yourself.

No wonder it’s caught on like wildfire.

How To Find Your Type

Contrary to other personality tests, the Enneagram doesn’t involve just taking a quiz and reading the results. While taking a quiz can be insightful and help with the process of elimination, the best way to identify your type is by studying each number and observing your own thoughts and behavior. Speaking from experience, you’ll know when you find yours. It’s as if someone read your mind and exposed all your hidden motivations and deep thoughts. And if you don’t have that experience, then ask your friends, family, or a therapist to help you work through each number and eliminate down to the type that is yours. It’s a journey of self discovery, not a final destination or diagnosis.

The Enneagram is all about motivations, not behavior. Instead of focusing on how you express yourself, focus on why you hold certain beliefs and perspectives to be true. Each number has layers of complexities, so think of it as a starting point: each number acts like a color – with various shades and tones on the scale. You may be the same number as someone else, but it presents itself in wildly different ways.

If you’re just getting started, carefully read through these nine types as a starting point for determining your own.

Summary Of The Nine Types

Type One • “The Perfectionist”

Dedicated, Purposeful, & Self-Controlled

With a strong sense of right and wrong, Ones are natural teachers who are on a mission to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. They maintain very high standards, and can often be critical of themselves and others. They are responsible, hardworking, and disciplined. It can be hard for them to allow things to be “good enough.”

Ones are well-organized and conscientious. Their biggest fear is being defective, and their biggest desire is to be balanced. They want to avoid fault and improve the world.

You might be a One if you have an inner critic constantly telling you when you’re doing something wrong, if mistakes are glaringly obvious, if you often struggle with stress and anxiety, or if you like things a “certain” way. If you live your life by a set of rules, this type may be you.

Type Two • “The Giver”

Generous, People-Pleasing, Possessive

With an optimistic outlook, Twos are natural helpers who excel in communication. They anticipate the needs of others and are highly empathetic, but struggle with establishing personal boundaries. They are generous and sincere, but can also become people-pleasers in the process.

Twos are warm and caring. Their biggest fear is being unwanted, and their biggest desire is to be needed. They want to be appreciated by others and avoid acknowledging their own needs.

You might be a Two if you can naturally tell what others need, even before they say anything, if you’re quick to take action in a crisis, and if you excel in remembering and celebrating birthdays. If you’ve ever been told that someone needs a little space, or worried that you’re giving too much, if you view your life through the happiness and stability of your relationships, this type may be you.

Type Three • “The Achiever”

Driven, Image-Conscious, Adaptive

With a charming disposition, Threes are self-assured achievers who excel in competitive settings and productivity, but can often become overly concerned with how they are perceived by others. They have problems with workaholism, and are constantly looking for ways to advance beyond and impress others. They are naturally poised and diplomatic, able to adapt to any situation.

Threes are motivated and competent. Their biggest fear is worthlessness, and their biggest desire is to feel valuable. They want to be admired by others and avoid failure.

You might be a Three if you always need a project, if meditation stresses you out, if you need to find the point of things in order to give them your time or attention. If you struggle with small talk and busywork, if you’re quick to race to the finish line (and maybe cut a few corners), if you’re no stranger to burn out and keep a few secrets to yourself, this may be your type.

Type Four • “The Individualist”

Withdrawn, Sensitive, Individualistic

With an emotionally-honest awareness, Fours are creative romantics who want to be understood. They are sensitive and expressive, but can withhold from others to avoid vulnerability. They have immense feelings and can tend to be idealistic. They have problems with self-indulgence and moodiness, but are creative dreamers who deeply want to be unique.

Fours are self-aware and personal. Their biggest fear is settling, and their biggest desire to feel significant. They want to be understood by others, while tending to their own emotional needs.

You might be a Four if you can immediately remember the last time you were brokenhearted, if you can lose track of time in the beauty of things, if you have unique interests that your friends sometimes poke fun at. If you’ve felt misunderstood, spent long seasons in sadness, or feel the need to find personal significance in the world, if you’ve ever been called a hopeless romantic, this may be your type.

Type Five • “The Researcher”

Perceptive, Innovative, Isolated

With an analytical perspective, Fives are focused investigators who love to satisfy their curiosity. They are alert and insightful, but tend to be private, valuing their independence from others. They often display an intensity in their ideas and interests, and can have problems with eccentricity and isolation. They are innovative thinkers who want to absorb information.

Fives are inventive and focused. Their biggest fear is feeling helpless, and their biggest desire is to feel competent. They want to understand their surroundings and defend themselves with knowledge to ward off the unpredictable.

You might be a Five if you sometimes like to disappear, if you feel overwhelmed by highly emotional situations, if you are slightly afraid to commit to anything, and you’d prefer to have all the information. If you value your privacy and mostly live in your head, if you’ve ever been told to open up then this might be your type.

Type Six • “The Loyalist”

Witty, Responsible, Anxious

With a practical mindset, Sixes are reliable troubleshooters who cling to security. They are committed and hard-working, but can often run on stress while complaining about it. They are gifted at foreseeing potential problems and encouraging cooperation. They are cautious workers who want to find a safe zone, while maintaining extreme loyalty and dedication to their relationships, systems, and beliefs.

Sixes are loyal and trustworthy. Their biggest fear is the lack of support, and their biggest desire is security. They want to feel reassured by others, while avoiding insecurity.

You might be a Six if you have low-key anxiety around most choices, if you worry about decisions your friends are making, if you always find the community first in any new situation. If you speak fluent sarcasm and have a way of making others laugh and feel seen, this might be your type.

Type Seven • “The Enthusiast”

Spontaneous, Excited, Scattered

With a spontaneous attitude, Sevens are fun-loving adventurers who seek happiness. They are extroverted and optimistic, but can often become scattered and undisciplined. They are high-spirited and playful, constantly seeking new experiences to the point of exhaustion. They struggle with impatience and impulsive behavior in their addiction to excitement.

Sevens are extroverted and energetic. Their biggest fear is being deprived, and their biggest desire is contentment. They want to maintain their freedom, while staying occupied and avoiding painful situations.

You might be a Seven if you feel the restless energy to optimize your weekends, if you enjoy planning the adventure even more than doing it, if you have little patience for complaining. If you’ve ever been called the life of the party, if you make friends easily and get people to open up, if you sometimes speak before thinking and lose track of time, this may be your type.

Type Eight • “The Challenger”

Confident, Decisive, Confrontational

With an intense communication style, Eights are commanding and take-charge personalities. They are protective and assertive, able to solve problems resourcefully and handle a situation. However, they can also be controlling and close-minded in their pursuit of power. They are strong-willed and self-confident in their pursuit of justice.

Eights are intimidating and effective. Their biggest fear is being controlled, and their biggest desire is to protect themselves and others. They want influence over others, while avoiding their own vulnerability.

You might be an Eight if you sometimes feel closer to someone after a disagreement, if you have strong opinions, if you physically can’t stay quiet when something moves you. If you’ve ever felt moved by your desires or protective over yourself or your friends, if you’re often the voice of reason and maybe get in trouble for your blunt delivery, this may be your type.

Type Nine • “The Peacemaker”

Reassuring, Agreeable, Receptive

With a strong desire for peace, Nines are pleasant and laid back. They are supportive and trusting of others, able to naturally see others’ perspectives and easily mediate conflict. While they keep things going smoothly, they can often be too accommodating in order to keep the peace. They are stable and optimistic, while minimizing anything negative or upsetting.

Nines are compassionate and understanding. Their biggest fear is separation, and their biggest desire is stability and peace. They want harmony from others, while avoiding tension or conflict.

You may be a Nine if you don’t feel a particular sense of personal identity, if you have a broad circle of friends and family, if you feel responsible for solving conflicts. If you’ve ever been called easygoing, if you enjoy the quiet and slow pace of life, if you feel easily influenced by others, this might be your type.

What Comes Next

The Enneagram is a powerful tool for understanding yourself and relating to others. Getting started with the Enneagram is exciting but can also feel overwhelming. The further you get into the research, the more ways you will see it applied to your life. If you’d like some extra guidance as you explore the complexities of your personality, or need help determining your own type, let me help. We offer Enneagram coaching to support you on your journey of self discovery.

Coming soon.

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