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Who do you think you are?

I've never been a fan of personality typing. My experience is that they're based on tests that can be gamed depending on the mood you're in or on what you think your answer should be. Worse, they often become labels that limit us. A four letter personality type that describes our behaviours and often becomes our excuse for being the way we are.

The Enneagram is different. Three years ago a client first introduced me to this ancient art of personality typing. It is a lens that helps you more accurately see yourself and the people in your life. It doesn't just describe behaviours, but explains why we behave the way we do. When we understand our core motivations and emotional imperatives, it becomes so much easier to accept or change the things that are no longer serving us. It also helps us see our gifts for what they are, and to be mindful to not let them turn into our downfall.

Myers Briggs will make you feel good about who you are, the Enneagram will make you see your imperfections in a compassionate light but also give you wings and arrows to move towards the balanced and evolved human being you can be.

If Myers Briggs is a mirror to your personality, Enneagram is a window into your character.

Let me illustrate how it works. Imagine a team of nine people who can be described as follows:

Mr One is focused on doing things right, is a perfectionist, is detail oriented and can come across as critical, picking out even the smallest of flaws in other people's work. He genuinely believes he's being helpful.

Mrs Two is friendly, warm and kind. She will go out of her way to do things for others and derives great pleasure in knowing she is needed. Her aim is to make herself indispensable and to be loved by all.

Mr Three is always immaculately dressed for the occasion, is very competitive and has to win at all costs. He works long hours, finds it hard to switch off and even chooses holidays that are packed with activities.

Miss Four has a disdain for the ordinary, believes she is unique and special and is often seen in vibrant colours and distinctive clothing. She is creative, not afraid to feel or show emotion giving her a reputation of being a diva.

Mr Five prefers his own company and shuns small talk. He is often seen with a book or engrossed working on his computer. He can become very chatty if asked for his opinion on his favourite topic (which might often be of no interest to anyone else).

Mr Six has a knack of looking at what might go wrong. In meetings, he will often ask the most questions, pick holes in other people's (and his own) ideas and generally play devil's advocate. He's always seeking certainty but rarely finding it.

Mr Seven has a sunny, outgoing personality. He is self deprecating (often the class clown) and always looking for the positive in any situation. He is fun to be around but is hard to pin down. He is easily distracted by the next shiny thing.

Miss Eight is someone who wants things done yesterday, doesn't suffer fools, is always certain (even if often wrong). She can be direct, to the point of seeming aggressive and is very clear about things she wants (or doesn't want). Saying No comes easily to her.

Mrs Nine has a calming energy and will generally go with the flow. She can be relied upon to put people at ease and mediate in a conflict situation. She sees everyone's perspective and is often described as the peacekeeper. It is hard to know what she truly thinks or actually wants.

Do you recognise yourself in any of those nine descriptions?

These nine people represent the nine Enneagram personality types - the "lens" I talked about earlier. This is a simplistic illustration and no one is suggesting that there are only 9 types of people in this world! But it is believed that we are born with our primary type and it becomes more pronounced based on the childhood experiences and the messages we got as we were growing up.

It is a dynamic tool with "wings and arrows" and paths to becoming healthier versions of who we are. It also helps us become more understanding, compassionate and constructive around the people we live and work with. For this reason, a person who has worked on themselves and is spiritually evolved may have characteristics of more than one type. But at the core level, they will always be one primary type.

I am a Type 9, but I also have traits of 1, 2, 4 and 7. I am working on the areas where I am deficient and actively choosing to respond in ways that are not natural to me. In that journey lies my growth and evolution.

The Enneagram is increasingly being used as a tool within organisations to create better leaders, to improve cohesiveness and mutual understanding within teams, and to recruit people based on their character traits, not just outwards personality.

Would you like to take a step closer to discovering your core type?  You can use this link to book a conversation with me.