What is the Enneagram? And how can it help you move forward in your life?
This strange pointy circle thing has, according to some experts, been around since the 4th Century, helping people work out their personalities and how best to play to their strength and weaknesses.
What is the Enneagram?
Put simply, it’s a way of categorising personality types, describing patterns in how people interact with the world and deal with their emotions.
There are nine different personality types and the interconnecting lines are more than just a pretty pattern – they show how each of the types relates to one another. It follows the hypothesis that we all have a certain way we view the world and a certain way that we act and so it can give us a greater understanding on how to improve ourselves in life, especially when it comes to dealing with stressful situations.
What’s your Enneagram personality type?
While the proper definition for all of these personality types – or Enneatypes – is much more in-depth, they can be basically defined as such.
Personality type 1: The Perfectionist
This personality type is idealistic and always gives 100% to everything they do. They strive to improve themselves but hate making mistakes and can be a bit critical to others. This type are also extremely conscientious, with a strong sense of what’s right and wrong.
Famous ‘Perfectionists’: Kate Middleton, Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher
Personality type 2: The Giver
This is the ultimate people pleaser, however their desire to help everyone often means they overlook their own needs. Their fear of being unlovable often makes them a tad possessive or manipulative, but when they are feeling the love, they are friendly, generous and full of unconditional love for others.
Famous ‘Givers’: Bishop Desmond Tutu, Dolly Parton and Jennifer Lopez
Personality type 3: The Achiever
The Achiever – or performer as it’s always known – is always on the go. They’re confident, enthusiastic and get the job done, however, they often feel constant pressure to perform and can be impatient at times. They also crave recognition for what they’ve done rather than discovering their own self-worth.
Famous ‘Achievers’: Tiger Woods, Tony Blair and Taylor Swift
Personality type 4: The Individualist
As the title suggests, this personality type is all about being unique. They’re also creative types who are passionate, full of compassion and expressive. However, this passion has a flip side, often leading to withdrawal from people and a melancholic outlook. The one thing they fear is a lack of individuality and they can also suffer from envy when things aren’t going quite right for them.
Famous ‘Individualists’: Judy Garland, Johnny Depp and Vincent Van Gogh
Personality type 5: The Investigator
Number five on The Enneagram is a personality type that has a thirst for knowledge and are often quite studious. They like to be on the side-lines and have a strong desire for privacy, but this can also make the investigator aloof and generally a bit disconnected from others. Many visionaries are this personality type – creating ideas way ahead of their time.
Famous ‘Investigators’: Agatha Christie, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking
Personality type 6: The Loyalist
Cautious and a bit of a worrier, type 6 personalities are hard-working, responsible and trustworthy. They long for the support of others but they can have problems with both self-doubt and being suspicious of others. You want a loyalist as a friend though – the title says it all, they’re loyal to the end and are great strategic thinkers, solving problems others can’t.
Famous ‘Loyalists’: Sarah Jessica Parker, Justin Timberlake and Marilyn Monroe
Personality type 7: The Enthusiast
This is the adventurer of all the personality types, always on the look-out for new adventures. They are spontaneous, fun loving and love to entertain – and be entertained. However, this busyness and need to find fun can often be a cover up for past trauma or issues they don’t want to think about. Their need for new, exciting experiences also means they get distracted easily and don’t often finish what they start.
Famous ‘Enthusiasts’: Michael J. Fox, Amelia Earhart and Cameron Diaz
Personality type 8: The Challenger
Powerful, confident and extremely wilful, the challenge rarely loses an argument – not surprisingly many leaders tend to be this personality type. This type often has a temper and they hate making themselves vulnerable; they like to be in charge. This forceful nature though also means they often use their strength and acute sense of justice to improve other, more vulnerable, peoples’ lives.
Famous ‘Challengers’: Kirk Douglas, Indira Gandhi and Serena Williams
Personality type 9: The Peacemaker
This is the type of personality that craves harmony, which sometimes means they sacrifice their own wants to keep the peace. This desire for peace means they’re often accepting, trusting and supportive of others, however, it also means they find it hard to say no, and then feel resentful of what’s asked of them. This can also lead to laziness, which comes from the fear of not knowing what they really want from life.
Famous ‘Peacemakers’: Queen Elizabeth II, Audrey Hepburn and Abraham Lincoln.
If you’re not sure what personality you are, there are many tests on the web that help you find your true personality. I like this one from Truity, which showed that I was definitely personality two, a giver, which is pretty darn accurate for me!
How can it help you move forward in life?
You’ll never wholly be one personality type – chances are there’s a little bit of each type in you, but one will be dominate and there’s also then a further relationship to the other personality types.
Those personality types on either side of your core type are wings. These represent personality types that we can evolve into, helping us to develop our characters and find aspects of ourselves that we didn’t realise were there previously.
With each personality type, you learn not only about the positive aspects about it, but also the possible downfalls.
This is demonstrated by the arrows – one shows the way your personality type changes under stress, the other how it looks when everything is going well. For me, as a type two Giver, this means under stress, I’m can be a bit demanding as I grapple for control – something which type eight knows only too well.
At my best though, I am totally my own person and confident in my own ability like the Individualists. I’m also quite likely to have a creative outlet, which I definitely do!
Knowing your personality type can also help you handle stressful situations better and help you untangle relationships with others – especially if you know their personality type as well.
It won’t solve all your problems, but it can help you understand your self better, which is surely not a bad thing.
Is the Enneagram a pile of nonsense?
Well, it’s never been scientifically validated, and distractors claim it’s a whole load of bunkum and as reliable as your daily horoscope, however, many people, use it as a way of trying to understand personalities better. In fact, it’s become quite the tool in the corporate world, with businesses such as Mitsubishi, Toyota and Avon, all using it to understand team dynamics better.
However you decide to use it, it can be a really useful tool in trying to understand yourself that little bit better, but nothing can really substitute knowing your own mind and working out those things that make you tick.