The Enneagram has exploded in popularity over the last few years as a tool for personal growth and development. You may be asking…what is the Enneagram? While that is a simple question, it does not have as simple of an answer. Many writings around it are deep and complex (with lots of potential rabbit holes) whereas other writings have oversimplified it to where it loses some of its transformative capacity.
At its core though, the Enneagram is a framework of nine interconnected personality archetypes. The framework describes three different centers of intelligence (the body, the heart and the head) with each of the nine types fitting into one of the centers. It goes on to describe how each type is connected to four other types through wings and paths of growth (more on those in later blog posts). Oh and then there are the subtypes or instinctual variants…but this is one of those deep holes I mentioned. I like Beatrice Chestnut’s description in her book, The Complete Enneagram.
“The Enneagram offers an accurate and objective view of the archetypal patterns that structure the human personality. As such, it provides a much-needed map for those of us who seek to understand ourselves on a deeper level…The main idea is that your personality – all of what you think, feel and do – is made up of patterns…the Enneagram helps you see these patterns in yourself.”
If you are unfamiliar with the Enneagram, hold tight…I’ll be talking more about it in the coming weeks, but if you know the tool well, I wanted to highlight a few ways you can effectively use the tool for personal growth and development.
First, you can grow with the Enneagram without even knowing your dominant type. Start with the centers of intelligence – the body, the heart and the head. Evaluate which one you most rely on and which one you’ve forgotten. Try different ways to wake up the center you most forget…for example, if you have forgotten your heart center, set a reminder on your phone twice a day to pause and ask yourself what you are currently feeling. It’s a way of bringing that forgotten center back online.
Next, you want to stay focused on your dominant type. I think it’s easy to get distracted by wings, whether you are “healthy” or “unhealthy”, and even subtypes can be a distracting conversation. Understand the patterns of your dominant type and become aware of the ways you are participating in those patterns. We can’t change or grow if we aren’t aware.
Finally, make sure you have correctly typed yourself. Because the Enneagram deals with non-conscious motivations behind our personality, it can be tricky to correctly identify ourselves. As Ginger Lapid-Bogda says, “one day your type will just hit you in the face.” The typing process can’t be rushed…some people simply read the descriptions of the nine types and know exactly which type they are…easy peasy. Others need time, the help of a trained coach or a deep dive into the subtypes to accurately find their type. One journey isn’t better than another, but it’s important that you don’t stop.
I think the best way for going through the typing journey is with a trained coach. Do a typing interview to help you identify your type because a coach can ask you curated questions to differentiate between the nine types and help you see patterns that you might not easily see yourself. Want to start your Enneagram journey today? Sign up for a typing session with me and we can uncover your map for personal growth and development.