an introduction to the enneagram.
The Enneagram is the most amazing system for understanding yourself and others and becoming a more direct and compassionate communicator.
In this recording of a webinar from June 2012, we review all 9 types and I offer pointers for typing yourself and others, plus insight into the good and bad uses of the Enneagram. It’s a super powerful system that, when you learn it well, gives you potent information on how others think. Good: using that info to build bridges and be kind. Bad: using it to manipulate others.
I’ve been studying the Enneagram for over 15 years. It is truly the #1 tool I turn to day in and day out to help me understand myself and work with others. Thus far, I have found it infallible.
Today, I want to talk to you about something that on the surface may seem unrelated to spiritual practice—the Enneagram.
When I mention the Enneagram to people and describe it as a system of personality typing on steroids, they give me one of three responses:
1. Not for me. Don’t care.
2. Poor you. I had no idea you were so new age-ily dependent on a system that explains how people work. Me, I don’t need such things. And I can’t be categorized.
3. Tell. Me. Everything. You. Know. Continue
Seth Godin, the marketing genius, writer, teacher, and all-around awesome person is one of my idols. I receive his blog posts every day and, although our topics are different, in many ways I model my work on his for its clarity, usefulness, and soulfulness.
His post today was about empathy as a most important component of strategic marketing. If we can’t see the world through our customer’s eyes, understand what motivates them to act, have insight into why they make the decisions they do, our efforts to connect with them may be clumsy and dense.
What he writes about easily applies to the world of relationships altogether, whether they take place on the sales floor or around your kitchen table.
In both cases, the ability to connect genuinely is paramount.
The way to connect genuinely is to let your preconceptions and judgments about a person go, open your mind and heart to them, and see them.
Meditation teaches us how to let go of concept and open again and again to the present moment. Continue
Very excited to offer a webinar on Jun 20, 730p-9p ET: An Introduction to the Enneagram. $20! It is the most amazing system ever, ever for understanding yourself and others and becoming a more direct and compassionate communicator.
We’ll review all 9 types and I’ll offer pointers for typing yourself and others, plus insight into the good and bad uses of the Enneagram. It’s a super powerful system that, when you learn it really well, gives you potent information on how others think. Good: using that info to build bridges and be kind. Bad: using it to manipulate others.
I’ve been studying the Enneagram for over 15 years. It is truly the #1 tool I turn to day in and day out to help me work myself and others. Thus far, I have found it infallible.
Only $20 bucks, yall!
A recording will be made available.
Limited to 100 people.
Whenever I find myself in a conversation about interpersonal difficulties (“My boss is a screamer,” “I can’t get my boyfriend to ever be on time,” “My sister cannot commit to anything”) I always ask, “have you ever heard of the enneagram?” I get one of four responses:
1. No. Not interested in that kind of hoodoo.
2. Isn’t that some kind of personality test? That stuff is all bullshit.
3. Yes, I’m a six.
4. I haven’t. Please tell me all about it.
My favorite, of course, is the last answer. Here is what I say.
The Enneagram is a system of personality typing, but to say so is like saying Bob Dylan is a singer-songwriter. It just goes waaay beyond that. Among other things, it is a pitch-perfect illustration of your own and others’ blind spots, of what we do over and over to cause our own problems, and of how we hurt others simply because we interpret their actions according to our own type.
The Enneagram is the best system I ever heard of to explain the differences between people in a way that increases self-knowledge, understanding, and patience. It teaches how us to relate to others without difficulty and is thus an exceptional compassion tool. It is crazily subtle yet totally useful in real life. It enables you to communicate effectively with anyone.
Here is a true story about putting the enneagram to use, at work:
Once I was working on a project with someone. It was fairly complicated and I often ran into problems putting our ideas into play. But whenever I would say to him, “I’ve run into a bit of a problem on thus and such and I’d love to discuss it with you,” he’d hem and haw and make excuses for why he had no time for such discussions. This left me feeling pretty much like a loser and I’d beat myself up for not being able to accomplish things that he obviously thought should be straightforward. Stewing further, I’d start to curse him for insensitivity and arrogance. I began to avoid him and he began avoiding me.
Then I realized his enneagram type. He was a 7. 7s avoid pain and problems. Their focus is almost exclusively on possibilities and options. They view problems as bummer dead weights around their necks that put a stop to progress. 7s are visionaries. For my type (4), we view problems as a sign that the truth is finally coming out and now we can really get to work. 4s are artists in search of expression (whether their medium is a formal art form ore not). For better and worse, a 7′s gaze is continually pulled toward the horizon, toward what could be. When circumstance asks them to stop looking into the future and instead focus on the present, they become querulous and discombobulated: why would anyone want to do that??
So the next time I had a problem and stopped him in the hall, I said “I have an idea and would love your feedback.” His eyes lit up and he made time for conversation on the spot. Then I told him my problem, but phrased as an idea. This simple switch took out all the BS of he likes me, he hates me, I hate him, I suck, etc, etc–and we could instead simply focus on task.
This is the brilliance of the enneagram.
“Ennea” is the Greek prefix for nine and the system defines nine personality types. Each is simply called by its number. (People have made up names for each point on the Enneagram, but I think they’re more confusing than helpful, so I’m just going to stick with numbers). At this point their eyes narrow. Is this person going to try and pigeonhole me, they wonder. I CAN’T BE DEFINED BY ONE NUMBER, they say to themselves. YES YOU CAN, I say to myself.
Click here to read the rest of my completely unauthorized thoughts on the subject.
Click here for a super detailed Excel spreadsheet depicting aspects of the Enneagram.
there are 9 of each
I am right.
Everyone else wrong.
I trust that things are righter than I can ever know.
I am needed.
So you better treat me right.
I give without agenda.
I am important.
I will overwhelm you with my credentials.
I have no need to spread propaganda about myself.
I am special.
Life will never live up to me.
I’m happy to be an ordinary person.
I have studied the situation thoroughly.
So leave me alone.
I trust the right knowledge to come to me at the right time.
I am secure.
As long as I don’t take any chances.
I believe that when I leap, the net will appear.
I have no problems
And therefore, no interest in yours.
It’s okay to cry and be hopeless sometimes.
I’m in charge.
Of you, so you better do what I say.
I offer my power to others for their protection.
I love everyone and everyone loves me.
So it’s time to relax with the remote and a beer.
I have fearless belief in myself and work hard on my own agenda.
The enneagram has endless wisdom, from which I’ve drawn to write what’s above. As I was typing it, I noticed that taken together, the 9 blue statements make a pretty good all-purpose creed.