About six or seven years ago, someone first mentioned the word enneagram to me. I remember thinking, “Anyawhat?” Didn’t even know how to spell it. I soon learned that the Enneagram is a tool for self awareness - an ancient description of 9 personality types that has a complex and somewhat disputed series of roots from Plato to the early desert fathers, as well as other streams from Judaism and the Islamic Sufi traditions. I have always been curious about methods for better self understanding, and found Myers Briggs, Strength Finders, the DISC, and other tools to be helpful in learning how I am wired. But the Enneagram has proven to be by far the most valuable diagnostic for me and others I coach. What makes it different?
- The Enneagram is developmental. Most of the tools give us an idea of our strengths…and maybe our limits. After that awareness, there does not seem to be much opportunity for growth. But the Enneagram gives us a paradigm, for each type, of who we are in our most healthy, resourceful place in that type…and who we are in our dysfunctional, shadow side place. We begin to see our default pattern - our besetting sin. And frankly, that is quite horrifying. With a picture of the healthy place we can aspire to, the Enneagram becomes highly motivational.
- The Enneagram is intricately layered – filled with potential for deeper understanding. Once you begin digging into the myriad of resources on the Enneagram, you recognize how much more there is to understand! There are “wings” and also certain types you should move toward to compensate for your own less resourceful tendencies. I engaged in an intensive five days of training this summer, and still feel like a rookie in learning what there is to discover from the Enneagram. It can truly be a lifelong growth tool.
- The Enneagram is a tremendous tool for leadership and team relationships. Many teams have discovered how helpful the Enneagram can be for understanding those we work with – and those we live with! I wish I had accessed this tool back when I was in full time church leadership - I am quite certain I would have led up more effectively as well as led my team with greater understanding. I recently had the opportunity to introduce the Enneagram to a pastoral team who report that it is stirring up hugely constructive conversations and fostering a healthier staff culture.
If you are interested in exploring the Enneagram, I have 3 books to recommend and also a diagnostic test you can take. The test can be found at http://www.wepss.com
My top 3 books:
- The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective by Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert
- The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
- 9 Lenses on the World: The Enneagram Perspective by Jerome Peter Wagner
My sincere hope is that you will find the Enneagram tool to be enormously helpful for your own growth and the development of your team.