I’ve taken a lot of personality tests. I’m outgoing. I like people. I like big ideas, not details. I’m a blue not an orange or green. And so on and so on. All of these tests have been helpful, but nothing especially life-changing. Certainly, nothing I continued to talk about weeks and months later. Then, Molly and I took the Enneagram.
According to Wikipedia (bible, right?), the enneagram is, “a model of the human psyche which is principally understood and taught as a typology of nine interconnected personality types.” It looks like this.
According to the Enneagram Institute, “The Enneagram is a powerful tool for personal and collective transformation. Stemming from the Greek words ennea (nine) and grammos (a written symbol), the nine-pointed Enneagram symbol represents nine distinct strategies for relating to the self, others and the world. Each Enneagram type has a different pattern of thinking, feeling and acting that arises from a deeper inner motivation or worldview.” You can also have subtypes, and although you have a primary type when you’re stressed or thriving you may fall into another type. It’s kind of a lot but stay with me.
There are tests online that you can take that will take a guess as to what number you are on the Enneagram scale, but the most effective way to learn your type is to do a typing interview with a trained Enneagram professional like Leslie Hershberger. I was introduced to Leslie by a former board member from my past 9-5. Jeff, who owns a very successful local company, uses Leslie with his entire corporate team and said I NEEDED to meet with her to get typed.
Molly and I went together for our typing interviews with Leslie. Typically, it is a one-hour session and then you come back for three more coaching sessions (or more) with Leslie to explore your type and how to create change in your life with this knowledge. Leslie also does corporate, group typing sessions. During the typing interview, Leslie asked us a number of questions about different scenarios or situations and how we would react. I was apparently very easy to type as a 7.
In Leslie’s words, a 7 is, “The Epicure is an optimistic, fun-loving and positive visioning personality with a strong belief that frustration and pain can be avoided by attending to positive options. Epicures habitually focus their attention on positive possibilities in all things. They are driven by a gluttony for interesting ideas and pleasurable experiences, now and in the future. Challenges for this fast-thinking type include being scattered, impulsive and self-referencing. A positive vision takes work and attention to less exciting practical details which can be avoided or backgrounded by the Seven.” Yep. Yep. Yep. Check.
Molly is a 2. In Leslie’s words again, “If you are a Two, you’re a helpful, caring, relationship-oriented personality with a strong belief that love and survival depend on giving to get connection and approval from people and groups who matter to you. You habitually focus your attention on others’ needs and seeing what is possible in them and flattering them with your positive attention and words. It’s a feeling that ‘If I take care of you, you will love and appreciate me.’ You usually don’t realize when you are caught in this habitual loop or that you are repressing and squishing down your own needs.”
Apparently, you can be a healthy 7 or an unhealthy 7, or a healthy 2 or an unhealthy 2. Aka there are beautiful and amazing traits that accompany each type, but if you’re mentally and spiritually unhealthy the ugly traits of each type will show. For example, if I was a super unhealthy 7 I may start 100 projects and never finish any, or experience great loss and use busyness as a way to avoid feeling pain. If Molly was a super unhealthy 2 she might never take care of herself and always just give to others and their needs.
The coolest part of the session was that with this information Leslie helped Molly and I understand how we could communicate with each other more effectively. It was eye-opening. And still now we’ll be at business meetings or having various interactions and Molly will say something and I’ll respond, “Oh, sure because you’re a 2.” Or, I’ll be spewing off ideas for new endeavors and Molly will nod stating, “you’re a 7.”
I don’t know really how to explain the impact of the Enneagram. It has helped me understand my own motivations further, and it’s shone a light on personal growth opportunities. It’s also helped me examine my relationships in a different way. I want Ryan to get typed, and I’m setting an interview up with Leslie for him as I write this. I think he’s a 1, but we’ll see.
I think really it comes down to the fact that the Enneagram is larger than just your personality. It exposes your inner motivations and how you deal with the human condition. It also gives you information on how to interact better with the people that you love.
Leslie gave Molly and I each different meditations to practice based on our type. She encouraged Mol to Learn to pay attention to her own needs by asking throughout the day, what do I need? I’m supposed to realize that it is limiting to seek only the positive and allow pain and uncomfortable emotions. Whomp, whomp.
This was THE most informative and helpful self-help or personality test I’ve ever taken. I recommend to everyone. To learn more about Leslie’s work and what she offers, visit her website here.