Unlocking the Enneagram – An Amazing Personality Model
I’ve talked recently about the Holland Code Career Personality Model and how useful it is for helping children, youth and adults start to identify their strengths and aptitudes, and to match those innate capacities with career options.
There is another personality model I’ve discovered and applied over the past year that has helped me enormously in my personal growth and relationships, both as a spouse and as a parent. It’s called the “Enneagram.”
The Enneagram is an ancient personality typing system with an uncanny accuracy in describing how human beings are wired. It shows how we’re wired and how we operate when we’re in a healthy, balanced, self-aware state; it also helps identify our go-to coping strategies we adopt when we’re living in an unhealthy state.
I would highly recommend that anyone who wants to grow in self-awareness and in understanding of others get to know the Enneagram model. I’ll share some resources for that at the end of this post.
The Nine Enneagram Type Descriptions (provided by the Enneagram Institute)
Type 1. THE REFORMER
The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic
Type 2. THE HELPER
The Caring, Interpersonal Type: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive
Type 3. THE ACHIEVER
The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious
Type 4. THE INDIVIDUALIST
The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental
Type 5. THE INVESTIGATOR
The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated
Type 6. THE LOYALIST
The Committed, Security-Oriented Type: Engaging, Responsible, Anxious, and Suspicious
Type 7. THE ENTHUSIAST
The Busy, Fun-Loving Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible, and Scattered
Type 8. THE CHALLENGER
The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational
Type 9. THE PEACEMAKER
The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type: Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent
For what it’s worth, after some exploration and discussion with others, I concluded that I am mostly likely a Type 1 – the Reformer. This type affirms many of my strengths, and helped me discover why, when I’m in a stressed mode, I take on some negative coping strategies. Strategies like being overly critical and a perfectionistic, which foster disappointment and anger with others.
Most importantly, I’ve learned there is no “right” or “wrong” type; because we each have a type, we tend to tend to view the world and other people from the lens of our particular type. I’ve discovered that every other person operates in a way that seems completely natural to them, because it is, even when we have the same basic values and beliefs. This insight, which seems like “duh”, has really opened up my world to healthier, happier relationships.
I hope understanding the Enneagram can do the same for you!
I highly recommend the book The Road Back to You, An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, InterVaristy Press. It places the Enneagram in a Christian/spiritual context, which was helpful to me.
Morgan Cron also offers a regular podcast on the topic called Typology, which you can find through all the major podcast feeds.
The Enneagram Institute is another important resource. The Institute offers lots of detailed information on the type descriptors. You can find it here.
There is also a self-assessment from the Enneagram Institute that you can take. A big caveat however; I took the assessment and for whatever reason, my scores rated me about equal among three different personality types. It was only after some meaningful reflection and discussions with my wife, daughter and friends that I came to a conclusion about my basic personality type. I think its most valuable to grapple with the model rather than only depend on the findings from an assessment. Still, you may find the assessment helpful as part of our discovery process. You can find one here.
Ian Cron’s organization also offers an Enneagram assessment, but I haven’t taken this one. You can find it here.
Another acclaimed recommended book is The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types, by Don Richard Ris and Russ Hudson.
Hans Meeder is President of NC3T, the National Center for College and Career Transitions (www.nc3t.com). NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance and tools to help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems and strengthen employer connections with education.