Um, What’s the Enneagram?

Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash

I remember the evening I first heard the word “Enneagram” very vividly. My wife and I met with a couple in the same field as us at the time (youth ministry). Sitting in their living room after our couples’ date night, he pulled out a yellow book titled “The Road Back to You” by Ian Cron. He then went on to describe how he thought I was a “7” on what was called the Enneagram… I said, “The EnneaWHAT?” This started a 2 hour exhilarating and lively discussion on this little symbol that would change my life.

My friend originally thought I was a “7” and so did I until he read the “8.” We were both wrong! Turns out I was actually an “8” with a strong “7” wing. As my friend went on to read through how an “8” (known as the Challenger) views life, struggles, and also experiences life change it intrigued me to purchase the book and begin my own study. I’m glad I did!

Ever since that evening I have been on a journey studying and growing in the desire to help others experience the peace and freedom from knowing how they are wired and how to grow in life. I currently serve at a church in the Indianapolis area with a main role in leadership development. Helping people experience hope and overcome obstacles as they strive towards their big ambitions sets my heart on fire. My hope is that you will be encouraged by the content you find here.

So, the Enneagram?

image from medium.com

So what’s the Enneagram you ask? The short answer = a life changing realization… The Enneagram is a journey you take to self discovery. It will uncover everything from your personality, to temperament, to how you engage with stress, to how you can grow to accomplish your big ambitions. It’s a symbol that contains all the different personalities and temperaments. The reason it’s a journey towards self discovery is that it not only tells you your strengths but it highlights (sometimes painfully so) your areas you need to grow in to truly experience your best life. That’s what sets the Enneagram journey apart from other personality and temperament systems.

Every person falls on one of the “types” on the Enneagram (see above graphic for names for each type). There are 9 different types. They are all unique, gifted, and all connected to each other. Every person has their “type”, which is located within one of the “triads.” They also have a “wing” and a type they go towards in “stress” and another they go towards in “growth.” We will cover all of these in this brief intro to the Enneagram.

Triads

There’s 3 triads everyone lands in. There’s the “gut/anger” triad, the “heart/feeling” triad, and the “head/fear” triad. Each personality is ultimately driven by a driving emotion: anger, fear, or feelings. Your triad helps you understand how you take in, process, and respond to what happens in life.

Wings

I mentioned earlier that there are “wings.” These are the numbers on either side of your number. I’m an 8, so my potential wings are 7 and 9. You may lean towards one of these numbers, which would be your “wing.” I lean towards the 7 because I’ve picked up some of a 7’s characteristics and energy. How do I know? Well I have a natural drive to lead and take charge, I fear being controlled, I love adventure and am so enthusiastic that it’s often hard (dare I say impossible) to slow down. As you grow in your Enneagram journey you will become more self-aware and not fear your shortcomings. Just one of the many reasons I love this journey.

Stress Number

When you are under stress, annoyed, or around a person you would call a “sandpaper person” you move towards the number that points away from your number. In the graphic above, you move towards the red arrow coming from your number. As an 8, when I am under stress, I move towards inheriting the negative traits of a 5. I become very “business only.” I will neglect empathy and will view tasks a more important than people. I become very “hands off.” I have a tendency, as an 8, to want submission from everyone I’m in conflict with rather than resolution. Ouch; still hurts to admit that!

Growth Number

Some call this your security or health number. When you are feeling secure, open to growth, and positive you will move towards the number that is pointing towards your number. In the graphic above, you move towards the black arrow coming from your number. As a strong 8, I will move towards the healthy traits of a 2. I want to help people out of a genuine love and care for them. I will put my own needs aside and focus on others. I want to help more than dominate.

Um, that’s great but I still have questions…

That’s a quick rundown but I’m sure you still have questions! That’s great, you should. It shows you’re hungry to learn and grow. Lucky for you there are TONS or great resources out there to help you identify your Enneagram type/number and start your path to growth. This blog is one of them so stay tuned and subscribe to keep learning and growing. There’s lots more coming your way right here! You could also pick up Ian Cron’s book and get to reading (it’s really good).

The truth is, only you can truly determine your Enneagram number. If you’re willing to do the hard work and address your “stuff” you will surely discover your truest self and can begin your path to life change. I’m still on this journey and love being able to be with you on yours. See you next time!


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