When I mention the Enneagram, I’m usually met with one of three responses:
- A knowing, smiling look, followed by a discussion of the powerful role it has played in their life.
- A blank stare: what the heck is the Enneagram?
- A raised eyebrow: you mean that thing with the numbers that I saw someone talking about on TikTok?
Your lens on the world
Here it is in brief: The Enneagram is a personal development system based on nine personality archetypes. You can think of it as essentially nine lenses on the world (credit to Jerome P. Wagner for that phrasing). This lens influences how you see the world, how you perceive any given situation. Imagine each of us showing up with one of these different lenses – we’ll each see and perceive things in a different way. It’s no wonder, then, that you may catch yourself at the office saying things like: “why can’t Alex understand why I’m so upset about this?” or “I just don’t understand where Blair is coming from on this one.”
Each member of a team may be perceiving a particular situation very differently.
The 9 Enneagram types
None of these nine archetypes are better or worse than the other. We can all show up in the grips of our personality for better or for worse. These 9 lenses each have personality strengths that come fairly naturally, as well as personality fixations.
It’s these fixations that I find most fascinating. Unless you’re really paying attention, these personality fixations are running your day: they’re your unconscious, reactive behavioural tendencies. And because they’re unconscious, they’re blind spots – you may have no clue about how they’re impacting your interactions, or the way you show up in the world. This means that these blind spots can get in your way, and hold you back from the things you really want.
The Enneagram as a system of growth
The Enneagram sheds light on your personality patterns so that you can break free from these personality constraints. Unlike other personality profile tools, the Enneagram is not about putting you in a box and working around your personality. It’s about understanding your personality patterns and fixations so that you can be at choice about your growth and development: how are your personality patterns serving you? What are they costing you? The Enneagram offers a path of growth to let go of what is no longer serving you.
Where to start with the Enneagram
Working with the Enneagram starts with identifying your type. From there, you can choose to tread as lightly or as deeply as you would like to on your personal development journey.
If you’re looking to tread lightly, get to know your type; read about your type’s personality patterns and fixations. Start observing where you see these patterns showing up.
For those looking to go deeper, the Enneagram offers a system to help you deconstruct personality (now there’s a loaded statement!). You may have heard mention of subtypes, instincts, instinctual sequencing, wings, and arrow lines. These are all elements of the Enneagram system to support you in breaking free of personality constraints and helping you to show up more fully in your life.
Ready to learn more about the Enneagram?
If you’re looking for a great book to learn more, I recommend: The Complete Enneagram by Beatrice Chestnut. If you’re ready to talk in more detail about how the Enneagram can support you and your team, check out Agency II Change’s Individual and Team Enneagram offerings
And, of course, if you have any questions about the Enneagram, or are struggling to identify your type, reach out anytime.