Monday Musings: What is the Enneagram? An Introduction
Updated: Aug 17, 2020
It was a few years ago when I first heard of the Enneagram. If you aren’t familiar, the Enneagram is a tool used to understand personality. It’s highly effective when trying to understand yourself, others and the world around us. As a higher education professional for several years, I’ve taken personality assessments such as the Myers-Briggs Test and the StrengthsFinder Assessment, but I wasn’t familiar with the Enneagram from the workplace. I stumbled upon it through social media about three year ago.
What is unique about the Enneagram, unlike other assessments, is that it helps to understand how to become the best version of yourself by embracing what makes you “tick” and understanding your behaviors when in stages of growth and stress. Just as importantly, you gain more insight about those you are in relationships with, which helps with building connections and resolving conflicts.
"What is unique about the Enneagram, unlike other assessments, is that it helps to understand how to become the best version of yourself by embracing what makes you “tick” and understanding your behaviors when in stages of growth and stress."
Earlier this year, in my quest to be more creative as I wrote about a couple weeks ago, I began my research and study of the Enneagram. The Enneagram is an ancient tool. Its exact origin is disputed, but it’s suggested that it began in the 4th Century by a Christian mystic, Evagrius Ponticus. It has made a “resurgence” in recent decades after the work of G.I. Gurdjieff, Oscar Ichazo and Father Richard Rohr.
After just a few months of self-education, I’ve been able to use the knowledge to better understand myself, my motivations and how to improve communication and connection with those around me. Although my knowledge of the Enneagram is in its infancy, I have already come to appreciate it for all its complexity and genius.
The Enneagram has nine different personality Types. Each person will find themselves in all 9 Types, but through experiences at a young age and genetics, you will have a dominant type. Below is a visual of the Enneagram. The lines show the interconnectivity between the Types. There are 3 triads (Gut, Heart and Head) that make up the 9 types.
Numbers 1, 8 & 9 = The Gut (Instinctual)
Numbers 2, 3 & 4 = The Heart (Feeling)
Numbers 5, 6, & 7 = The Head (Thinking)
So what are the 9 Types? Below is a brief listing with an explanation according to The Enneagram Institute (www.enneagraminstitute.com):
Type 1 -- The Reformer (a.k.a. The Perfectionist) -- The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful and Self-Controlled.
Type 2 -- The Helper (a.k.a.The Giver) -- The Caring, Interpersonal Type: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing and Possessive.
Type 3 -- The Achiever (a.k.a. The Performer) -- The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excellign, Driven and Image-Conscious.
Type 4-- The Individualist (a.k.a. The Romantic ) -- The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed and Temperamental.
Type 5 -- The Investigator (a.k.a. The Observer) The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive and Isolated.
Type 6 -- The Loyalist (a.k.a. The Skeptic) -- The Committed, Security-Oriented Type: Engaging, Responsible, Anxious and Suspicious.
Type 7 -- The Enthusiast (a.k.a. The Epicure) -- The Busy, Fun-Loving Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible and Scattered.
Type 8 -- The Challenger (a.k.a. The Protector) -- The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful and Confrontational.
Type 9 -- The Peacemaker (a.k.a. The Mediator) -- The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type: Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable and Complacent.
When I first learned my Type (I will share this discovery in a reflection post soon), it was not an overall pleasant experience. It’s widely agreed upon that after the uncovering, there are hard truths that generally make people uncomfortable. I felt uneasy learning about my Type, but on the flip side, I had never felt more known in my life. I asked myself, There are other people who think, feel and react like me? There isn’t something “wrong” with me? I was relieved but also felt vulnerable. Is this how people see me? I sat with some unpleasant thoughts and feelings those first few weeks.
After the initial shock, I soon realized what a gift the Enneagram could be for me and those in my life. I find it fascinating, interesting and full of wisdom. There is much to learn and appreciate about it. Through my studies, I’ve read and heard from experts who have dedicated decades to studying and teaching the Enneagram but still speak of it with affection and wonder. Moreover, they continue to learn from this powerful tool. I wished I would have taken this assessment 20 years ago. I may have offered myself a little more grace along the way or made wiser decisions. Better late than never, right?
"...I soon realized what a gift the Enneagram could be for me and those in my life. I find it fascinating, interesting and full of wisdom."
I highly encourage anyone interested in exploring the Enneagram to take the test on www.enneagraminstitute.com or invest time reading or listening to resources. The Enneagram is life-changing! And a really fun part of the journey is discovering the Types of famous people and fictitious characters. My heart nearly melted when I learned that one of my favorite book characters from one of my favorite books is thought to be my Type!
Below is a list of wonderful resources that will offer the knowledge (as deep or as surface you’d like to go) on the brilliance of the Enneagram. They include websites, social media accounts, books and podcasts. All are informative, creative and inspiring.
The Enneagram Institute (website)
Empathy Architects (Facebook)
Ashton Creates (Instagram)
The Conscious Enneagram (Instagram)
Enneagram and Coffee (Instagram)
I hope that you will explore the Enneagram so that it can bring insight, understanding and change into your life. We’d love to hear about your discoveries!
If you’ve already discovered your respect and affection for the Enneagram or if you are brand new to it, let us know how it has impacted your life by posting on our social media accounts or emailing us at email@example.com.
I’ll be in touch soon to share my Type along with reflections and stories.