Updated: Jan 2, 2021
Identity is essentially the story we tell ourselves, with personality acting as the expression. Our experiences and our views of ourselves are largely framed by how we make sense of who we are, how we react, and what motivates us.
The Enneagram can improve your work and the quality of your life by developing greater understanding of yourself and others.
What is the Enneagram?
Ennea in Greek stands for the numbers and gram refers to the diagram or drawing with the nine points. It is a diagram that “maps out the nine fundamental personality types of human nature and their complex interrelationships.” – Riso and Hudson
Why is it helpful?
The Enneagram focuses our attention on our strengths and challenges.
It asks us to observe our motivations and perceptions of the world.
It helps us connect to the best aspects of ourselves and others.
It is more about motivations, so it helps us understand why we do what we do.
As we gain more self-knowledge, we have the ability to observe and step back.
Being self-aware and observant can lead to making different decisions and choices.
It is also be a powerful tool to help you become less reactive to people and situations.
Ultimately, see it as a tool to help you become more present and mindful.
Who uses the Enneagram?
Somewhat like the Myers-Briggs, one of the most well-known personality assessments, it is used by many organizations in employee and leadership training sessions to improve communications, team-work, performance, and more.
Sessions have been held at colleges and universities, including: Stanford, Antioch, Georgetown, Claremont, and Loyola,
What is the history?
The origins can be traced back thousands of years to ancient wisdom from various spiritual and religious traditions.
Many theories that are part of the diagram align with ideas from Pythagoras, Plato, and Neoplatonic philosophers.
It was popularized by the Russian mystic Gurdjieff in Europe in the 1920s.
It reached its zenith in the United States at Esalen in 1970, where it was introduced during a Gestalt workshop by Claudio Naranjo.
It has regained popularity in recent years, in particular, with younger generations.
How will we approach the process?
First, we will do an assessment to work on identifying your type.
Second, we will check to find your type and see how you self-identified.
Third, we will go over the basic characteristics, traits, and motivations of each type.
How do assessments and tests work?
There are numerous tests and assessments, both online and through books.
It can be helpful to take tests to find your type, but don’t rely too heavily on them.
As you explore, focus on the process of self-identification and self-understanding.
Be really honest with yourself as you take the assessment.
Focus on who you are, not the idealized version of yourself.
Do not use types against yourself or others or try to type other people.
Do not use your type as an excuse for poor behaviors, habits, or decisions.
Don’t make assumptions if someone shares or if you know someone’s type.
Don’t use type information to manipulate, control, or put other people down.
Avoid bragging about your type or acting like certain types are better than others.
“We all have the extraordinary encoded within us, waiting to be released.” – Jean Houston
Important Note: You have all types within you, but according to experts, you have one core type that is dominant. In childhood, we began leaning towards a specific set of traits to feel secure, confident, and to navigate life.
Exercise One: Finding Your Type
Now, let's pick one or two top choices from these descriptions below.
o I place a high value on being truthful, reliable, and not showing weakness.
o I am confident in who I am and present myself in an authentic and direct way.
o I hold back on trusting others until I know that I can count or rely on them.
o I prefer people to be direct and tend to display my feelings when angry or upset.
o I can tell when someone is being manipulative, untruthful, or even subversive.
o I have a hard time following orders, especially if I do not respect the person.
o I am good at taking charge and I tend to watch out for the interests of others.
o I tend to hold my position, in particular, on important issues and matters.
o I have high standards and principles for what is right or correct.
o I expect myself to live up to my own standards, ethics, and values.
o I like things to be correct and I can easily see if they are not.
o I may present as being overly perfectionistic, critical, or demanding.
o I pride myself on being accurate and doing things the right way.
o I sometimes resent others for inaccuracies, acting unfairly, or being irresponsible.
o I tend to hide how I feel sometimes if someone has not met my standards.
o I typically put work before recreation and suppress desires that might distract me.
o I can see all perspectives easily and see advantages/disadvantages of various viewpoints.
o I may appear indecisive because I see all angles, but this helps in resolving differences.
o I sometimes get off track by attending to other people’s agendas, positions, or priorities.
o I get distracted with trivial things and can lose sight of what matters most.
o I have a hard time knowing what my own priorities are and what is important to me.
o I go along with others to avoid conflict and tend to be adaptable and agreeable.
o I like people to get along and for things to flow, be comfortable, and harmonious.
o I tend not to show my anger and it takes quite a bit to get me upset or mad.
o I am sensitive to people and see their feelings and what they need, even strangers.
o I feel frustrated sometimes when I sense things and cannot always help others in need.
o I give of myself often and tend to take care of others and their needs more than my own.
o I have a tough time saying no and wish I was better at setting boundaries with others.
o I feel hurt if people think I am manipulative or controlling when I am being supportive.
o I truly value close relationships and make an effort to develop and sustain them.
o I want people to see me as a good person with a warm, loving, and giving heart.
o I sometimes feel unappreciated and can become emotional or even demanding.
o I am competitive, like doing my best, but can also be a good team-player.
o I receive a lot of accolades for my accomplishments and achievements.
o I am an action-oriented person, get a lot done, and do most things very well.
o I find it hard to sit and do nothing and I always have a list of things to do.
o I use my time effectively and feel impatient with others if they waste time.
o I focus more on getting things done, so my feelings and reflections tend to come second.
o I tend to take over projects if someone works too slowly or does not complete tasks.
o I like to stay on top of projects at all times and not let things get out of control.
o I am quiet and tend to analyze things and need time alone more than most.
o I like to observe as opposed to being in the thick of situations with others.
o I don’t like too many demands from others and tend to be quite self-sufficient.
o I tend to be more reserved and may be reluctant or uncomfortable in revealing feelings.
o I am able to get in touch with my emotions when I am alone and prefer this approach.
o I sometimes enjoy reliving past experiences more than while living them.
o I am hardly ever bored while alone because my mind is active and engaged.
o I like to protect my time and energy and live a simple uncomplicated life.
o I have a tendency to use my ingenuity to solve problems and apply logical analysis.
o I have an unusual sense of humor and wit, but can appear contrary or pessimistic.
o I am good at detecting danger, being on the lookout, and tend to avoid harmful situations.
o I would like life to be more predictable, more certain, and not question things so much.
o I often see shortcomings in views put forward and may be considered quite astute.
o I have a strong imagination, especially about safety, threats, or issues tied to security.
o I am suspicious of authority, yet do not typically want to be an authority figure.
o I am very loyal to the people and causes where I have made commitments.
o I am optimistic and enjoy developing new and interesting things to do and try.
o I have a very active mind that darts around between ideas and tasks.
o I have a good mind for seeing the macro picture and how things intersect.
o I like to work on my interests and have lots of energy to spend on things I enjoy.
o I have a hard time sticking with repetitive, mundane, or low reward projects or tasks.
o I love planning, brainstorming, and checking out various options to consider.
o I have a tendency to exhaust an interest and then move onto to something else.
o I can feel low, but tend to switch my attention to pleasant thoughts and feelings.
o I am a sensitive person with strong feelings and sometimes feel misunderstood.
o I feel lonely sometimes because I feel different and long for deep emotional connections.
o I know I can be a bit dramatic and tend to amplify my feelings, which some may criticize.
o I seek meaningful experiences and experience a world rich with emotions and meaning.
o I tend to focus on what is missing, deficient, defective and downplay what I do have in life.
o I can feel down if there is a lack of interpersonal and meaningful connection with others.
o I sometimes wonder why relationships and careers come more easily for others.
o I love appreciating and creating beauty and have a very refined aesthetic sensibility.
Exercise Two: Find the numerical correlation to the type(s) you chose from the alpha descriptors above. If you selected more than one, write down both types.
A = Type 8 - The Challenger
B = Type 1 - The Reformer
C = Type 9 - The Peacemaker
D = Type 2 - The Helper
E = Type 3 - The Achiever
F = Type 5 - The Investigator
G = Type 6 - The Loyalist
H = Type 7 - The Enthusiast
I = Type 4 - The Individualist
Type 1: Perfectionist/Reformer – Motivated by the need to do the right thing, ones want to be accurate, ethical, and improve themselves and the surrounding world.
Traits: wise, discerning, noble, ethical, principled, reliable, idealistic, fair, orderly, self-disciplined, systematic, industrious, rational, self-controlled, patient, balanced, responsible, conscientious, improvement-oriented, clear, precise, high standards, accurate.
Type 2: Giver/Helper – Motivated by the need to be loved and valued, twos express their positive outlook and feelings towards people.
Traits: relationship-oriented, empathetic, caring, generous, helpful, supportive, demonstrative, altruistic, introspective, intuitive, warm, creative, optimistic, likable, nurturing, advisors, responsible, feeling, giving, heartfelt, non-judgemental, refined.
Type 3: Performer/Achiever – Motivated by the need to be productive and achieve success, threes want to shine.
Traits: generally optimistic, self-accepting, self-motivated, can be inspiring role models, competitive, adaptable, ambitious, industrious, fast-paced, goal/success oriented, efficient, confident, competent, show their care through actions, more output vs people driven.
Type 4: Romantic/Individualist – Motivated by the need to experience their feelings, fours want to be understood and be special.
Traits: inspired, highly creative, able to renew, transform experiences, intuitive, idealistic, sensitive, empathetic, caring, intense, passionate, specialness-oriented, authentic, introspective, expressive, aesthetics, attuned to the off-beat, dedicated.
Type 5: Observer/Investigator – Motivated by the need to know and understand, fives tend to be self-sufficient and investigative in their search for knowledge.
Traits: visionary pioneers, see things in new ways, ahead of times, wise, innovative, self-sufficient, undemanding, caring quietly, unobtrusive, knowledgeable, investigative, objective, systematic, analytical, thoughtful, knowledgeable, concise, perceptive.
Type 6: Skeptic/Loyalist - Motivated by the need for security, sixes can either be outwardly fearful or counter-phobic and confront fears directly.
Traits: internally stable, responsible, dutiful, deeply loyal, self-confident, self-reliant, trusting, trustworthy, engaging, inquisitive, analytical, persevering, vigilant, investigative, skeptical, risk averse or overly risk-taking, caring, collaborative.
Type 7: Epicure/Enthusiast – Motivated by the need to be happy and enjoy life, sevens want to contribute to the world and people around them in small and big ways.
Traits: focused on talents, goals, and interests, adventurous, joyous, accomplished, grateful, upbeat, optimistic, charming, caring, exuberant, spontaneous, versatile, enthusiastic, pleasure-seeking, synthesizer of ideas, opportunity-oriented.
Type 8: Protector/Challenger/Asserter/Boss – Motivated by the need to be self-reliant and strong, eights are extremely independent.
Traits: self-mastering, magnanimous, solid sense of self, dynamic, high stamina, take-charge, protective of others, self-confident, decisive, justice-seeking, direct, strong, declarative, assertive, self-reliant, intense, action-oriented.
Type 9: Mediator/Peacemaker – Motivated by the need to keep peace and to avoid conflict, nines can be very collaborative. Since they take often on qualities of the other eight types, nines have many variations in their personalities from mild-mannered to more assertive.
Traits: diplomatic, open-minded, empathic, conflict solvers, peaceful, gentle, receptive, reassuring, adaptable, harmonizer, pleasing, affable, comfortable, steadfast, accepting, humble, easy-going, caring, inclusive, steady, patient, enduring, consistent.
Focus on the positive traits and strengths in yourself and others.
Understand your core motivation and appreciate different motivations in others.
Try to be compassionate towards yourself and others as you interact and work.
Celebrate differences to boost morale, motivation, and inspire top performance.
The Essential Enneagram by Daniels M.D. and Virginia Price, Ph.D. (test included)
The Enneagram Made Easy by Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele (test included)
The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Riso and Russ Hudson.
Books are available on Amazon.com and can be found at local bookstores.
Note: The assessment used in this document and in workshops via an oral review, was largely developed based on information from various books, videos, and other materials, but in particular, from the first person format used in the book, The Essential Enneagram.
Integrative9.com – Practical applications for work and teams
Transforminc.com – Practical applications for work and teams
If you want to take multiple tests, you can also check out these online tests:
Check Out the Enrollment Management Association Website for Workshops! https://www.enrollment.org/
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