Have you heard about the enneagram yet? Do you know your number? Garrett and I discovered the enneagram about a year ago through our own separate journeys, and it has been absolutely amazing what an impact it has made on our lives.
So, if you haven’t heard about the enneagram, or you just aren’t super familiar with it, here is the basic info:
According to Ian Cron, author of “The Road Back to You,” host of enneagram podcast “Typology,” and one of our first “teachers” about the enneagram, the enneagram is “an ancient personality typing system that identifies nine types of people and how they relate to one another and the world. The Enneagram is a powerful tool for understanding why we behave the way we do, and how our personalities are powerfully influenced by our motivations. It provides a framework for how we can begin to live into our most authentic selves, and also reveals the wisdom each personality type can offer to others. The Enneagram is therefore not just a powerful tool for personal growth, but also a great resource for transforming our relationships in every sphere of life (https://ianmorgancron.com/about/).”
While this may sound like a lot of jargon and seem like yet another “personality quiz” that everyone is talking about, there is actually so much more to it. As a self-proclaimed psychology nerd, I’ve always been fascinated by personality types, behavior models, and the like. But the enneagram is the first one to capture my attention so fully, entice me to research so deep, and cause me to make radical shifts in my thinking about myself. In all fairness, it took THREE different times of being exposed to information about it for me to actually tune in and decide to dig deeper, but once I latched on, I was fascinated. And even though I told Garrett about it once I was hooked, it took him hearing it from a few other sources before we really bought into it as well.
So, how’s it different than all of the “others” out there? Well, for starters, and a big aspect in our minds: the enneagram teaches us the motivations BEHIND our behaviors, not just how those behaviors might look or be expressed in our lives. These insights into our motivations and behaviors have proven invaluable to us, and have allowed us to find areas of growth that we never would have imagined even examining prior to the enneagram. The enneagram also explains how we have learned to cope with the human experience, trauma, and fear in our lives, often in negative and unhealthy ways, and teaches us how to lean into healthier, stronger versions of ourselves where our coping mechanisms no longer define us.
On the surface of the system, there are 9 types of people, indicated by a number and sometimes referred to by nicknames that try to define or encompass the type as a whole. Upon further research, there are many variations within the 9 types (think of a color spectrum - we might say there are 3 colors...red, orange, yellow...but within each of those three colors, there may be infinite variations, such as bright orange, burnt orange, red-orange, etc). Also, while the nicknames can be useful at first for understanding the different types, we’ve come to realize that they usually aren’t wholly accurate at describing the real and true motivations of each type, but they make a good starting point.
The types are as follows thanks to another of our favorite enneagram tools, The Enneagram Institute (https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/how-the-enneagram-system-works):
These one-word descriptors can be expanded into four-word sets of traits. Keep in mind that these are merely highlights and do not represent the full spectrum of each type.
Type One is principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionistic.
Type Two is generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing, and possessive.
Type Three is adaptable, excelling, driven, and image-conscious.
Type Four is expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental.
Type Five is perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated.
Type Six is engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious.
Type Seven is spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive, and scattered.
Type Eight is self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational.
Type Nine is receptive, reassuring, complacent, and resigned.
I would also like to note that healthy people generally live on a sort of “spectrum,” where their personality is fluid and changing based on many factors, and so they may find parts and pieces of all of the different types in themselves from time to time. Generally people tend to identify with one type more than others, but it can sometimes take a REALLY long time to discover your TRUE enneagram type...discovering (and accepting) your true self can sometimes be a challenging journey!
One of the “big no-no’s” in the land of the enneagram is to “type” other people, because as humans we witness and experience other people’s BEHAVIORS, but we cannot see into their minds and hearts to understand WHY they are behaving certain ways, so we cannot fully understand someone else’s MOTIVATIONS. But, it can be fun to privately speculate a bit, so, do you have any guesses on which type Garrett and I relate to most? For reference on the accuracy of not always knowing someone’s true motivations, I have been in a relationship with Garrett for over 10 years, and my initial guess as to his enneagram type was NOT correct! ;)
We would love to hear your guesses about our types, and we would love to hear if you are familiar with the enneagram and your experiences with it so far! Leave a comment below if you’d like to share! In a later edition of this blog, I’ll dive more into our personal experiences with the enneagram (and yes, give you our numbers ;)), and explain a bit more about how it is helping us to be the best versions of ourselves. Stay tuned!
Our favorite Enneagram Resources:
Building a Storybrand Podcast, episode 125 with Ian Cron
Rise Together Podcast, episode 8 with Chris Huertz
The Road Back to You Podcast with Ian Michael Cron and Suzanne Stabile
Typology Podcast with Ian Michael Cron
Have more resources that you love? We'd love to hear about them! Let us know in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org!