The Enneagram: A Simple, Must-Have Tool on the Path of Personal Development

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I used to think most personality tests were pretty lame. Even the Myers Briggs. What do they really tell me about myself that I don’t already know?

Well, I have since been very humbled by The Enneagram which revealed that I was a type-three!

This modern psychological tool is used by millions across the world for more self-understanding and self-actualization. The symbol is shown to the left.

The symbol itself is said to date back 2,500 years. The psychology of the 9 points related to the symbol is said to date back to the fourth century AD. The symbol, used with the 9 personality types used in harmony is merely a few decades old.* For more history about the Enneagram click here.

The Enneagram is a conglomerate of many sacred teachings from Christianity to Judaism, and even Buddhism.  Since the 1970’s it has been used to help people understand themselves more deeply and reach their human, spiritual potential.

So what?

The Enneagram can help you understand that you are not your personality. That below your conditioned personality is something utterly profound—your true essence as a human being.

The Enneagram is one of my favorite tools to assist others in understanding their blocks, habitual patterns, and their strengths.

And for men and women that want to be truly themselves (and not what others taught them or told them to be) and reach their innate potential, it is a must-have tool for personal (and even professional) development.

Because as said in my earlier post, the deeper you know yourself, the more choices you have in life and the more freedom and fulfillment you will discover.

How do I start?

To do this right, I recommend taking a free test online here. Once you do that, read about each type and get a sense of yours. You might take another different test online and see what you score there, so that you have two sets of results to compare.

To really do it right, I suggest buying The Wisdom Of The Enneagram book by Riso & Hudson.

Here is an short description of each type so you can get a sense of which you might identify with. Remember, each type has a neurotic aspect and a wisdom aspect. Riso & Hudson do a good job of showing you where you are stuck and what you need to do to integrate to a higher level of being.

Type One: The reformer: Principled, idealistic, perfectionist

  • Basic Fear: I’m bad, corrupt.
  • Healthy self: I’m a reasonable, objective person

Type two: The Helper, caretaker. Caring, interpersonal.

  • Basic Fear: Of Being unloved
  • Healthy self: I’m a caring, loving person

Type three: The Achiever: Success-oriented, doer. gets it done.

  • Basic Fear: I’m worthless
  • Healthy self: I am an outstanding, effective person

Type Four: The Individualist, the artist. Romantic, self-aware, sensative.

  • Basic Fear: Of having no identity or significance
  • Healthy self: I am an intuitive, sensitive person

Type Five: The investigator. Intense, intellectual, insightful, curious, often observing at a distance.

  • Basic Fear: Of being incompetent, helpless and incapable
  • Healthy self:I am an intelligent, perceptive person

Type Six: The Loyalist, committed, security-oriented, responsible.

  • Basic Fear: Of being without support and guidance
  • Healthy self:I am a committed, dependable person

Type Seven: The Enthusiast. Busy, productive, leader, optimistic, spontaneous, versatile.

  • Basic Fear: Of being trapped in pain and deprivation
  • Healthy self:I am a happy, enthusiastic person

Type Eight: The Boss or Challenger. Powerful, dominating

  • Basic Fear: Of being harmed, controlled or violated
  • Healthy self:I am a strong, assertive person

Type Nine: The Peacemaker. Easygoing, trusting.

  • Basic Fear: Of loss, separation and fragmentation
  • Healthy self:I am a peaceful, easygoing person

As the book The Wisdom Of the Enneagram says, “The core truth that the Enneagram conveys to us is that we are much more than our personality.”

To me, this model is 10 times more powerful than the Myers Briggs personality test.

So, if you are committed to your own development and growth, the Enneagram is an essential tool to have in the tool kit.

Resources:

*The Wisdom Of The Enneagram by Ruso and Hudson— A great intro

*Spiritual Dimensions of the Enneagram by Matri –A more advanced read for the Enneagram geeks.

http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/

7 Comments

  • Duff

    Reply Reply May 15, 2009

    I also recommend The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Riso and Hudson as the best introduction to the Enneagram.

    I was introduced to the Enneagram at age 12 and it ripped my life apart…in a good way. It all depends on how deep down the rabbit hole you want to go, I suppose.

  • Kirk

    Reply Reply May 22, 2009

    I think the Enneagram is a great self-analysis system but I have to disagree regarding the “lameness” of Myers Briggs.

    The MBTI is definitely more a “shallow end of the pool” assessment, but many times that is where guys begin their process of awareness. Sometimes the wading pool is exactly what is needed.

    Then there are those who want the ten meter platform so they can try a backflip on the way down. Those guys will love the Enneagram.

    And I would guess that it’s even past interaction with these assessments that a certain group are going to want to pursue a year long initiation rite.

    It’s great that there are so many levels to engage for change.

  • jayson

    Reply Reply May 22, 2009

    Kirk,

    Your metaphor is perfect and you are right–how great that they are so many options to enter. Thanks for being a proponent of the MBTI as it clearly has value. Moreover, if it becomes an entry point of personal development for a man, all the better.

  • Jonathan Davis

    Reply Reply November 3, 2010

    Hi Jayson,

    Thanks for bringing this up in your more recent post about being scared of trust. I've been talking over the Enneagram a couple of times with my close brother, after he returned from the EMC you recently hosted.

    I want to understand more about more my own personality type(s), because as we talk more about the types, we're coming to more of an understanding that we are not always a fixed number on the type scale, but an individual with tendencies for different Enneagram types.

    I'm going to take the test and see what comes up for me. It may confirm personal feelings already, or completely rock my world. The thing is I have to be ready for the latter, if so, and welcome that in.

  • Jonathan Davis

    Reply Reply November 3, 2010

    Hi Jayson,

    Thanks for bringing this up in your more recent post about being scared of trust. I've been talking over the Enneagram a couple of times with my close brother, after he returned from the EMC you recently hosted.

    I want to understand more about more my own personality type(s), because as we talk more about the types, we're coming to more of an understanding that we are not always a fixed number on the type scale, but an individual with tendencies for different Enneagram types.

    I'm going to take the test and see what comes up for me. It may confirm personal feelings already, or completely rock my world. The thing is I have to be ready for the latter, if so, and welcome that in.

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