Emotionally mature people enhance performance and are happier too!

As children, we are pure and unencumbered, adapting easily to life's challenges. However, as we grow up, we unconsciously create a personality (persona - mask) to shield ourselves from perceived threats. This mask becomes our comfort zone but it also prevents us from fully expressing or experiencing our true selves. By understanding and noticing these motivations and behaviours we can go on the journey of gradually leaving them behind and allowing our true, authentic selves to emerge. This is the journey of the Enneagram which helps us shed our shackles and live more liberated and undefended lives.

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Why The Enneagram?

The Enneagram is an ancient wisdom tool that helps us to grow in self-awareness, understand our inner-world and its impact on our everyday relationships and behaviours. The word ‘Enneagram’ comes from the Greek words ‘ennea’ meaning ‘nine’ and ‘grammos’ meaning ‘something written’ or ‘a figure’. The Enneagram outlines 9 ‘type patterns’ that are characterized by a unique combination of strengths, weaknesses, unconscious motivations, fears, and triggers that shape our thoughts, feelings and actions. All of this impacts how we show up in the world, our relationships, our work, our communication and our behaviours.

What makes the Enneagram unique?

There are loads of personality profiling tools available that could benefit your organisation. So what makes the Enneagram different?

The Enneagram is different to other personality profiling tools in that it shines a light on our underlying motivations that shape our behaviours and how we show up in the world. Because of this focus it provides a far deeper understanding of ourselves and others.

Although many profiling tools use psychology, the Enneagram is based on a complete and comprehensive theory of personality. Most of this was developed by an American-trained Chilean psychiatrist, Claudio Naranjo, based primarily on the work of Oscar Ichazo in Chile. Naranjo subsequently brought his theory to the USA in the early 70s, and later published two books directly conveying his interpretation of Ichazo’s material and integrating it with western psychology.

This theory of personality gives the Enneagram a far greater level of sophistication and depth than most psychometric tools. It is also why people find it so accurate and insightful. Although the Enneagram has an enormous amount of depth and complexity to it, one of Naranjo’s significant contributions was to simplify this complex theory in a way that made it accessible to all. One of the Enneagram’s strengths is that it can be grasped and applied very quickly by anyone, regardless of their background or education level while it can take years to understand in full depth.

The Enneagram describes personality types in terms of conscious patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving along with the unconscious “shadow” aspects. Growing up, we often learn to disown aspects of ourselves we think of as ‘bad’ and eventually become unaware of them. These attributes become what is referred to as our ‘shadow’ and represent everything we cannot see about ourselves but nevertheless show up in how we behave with others.

If we can become aware of these ‘shadow’ attributes, and re-own them, we have the potential to grow and develop. As Beatrice Chestnut says, “this makes it an excellent tool for the hardest part of conscious work – realising, owning and accepting our blind spots.” This approach is quite different from other approaches which often focus on what we need to do ‘more of’ or ‘less of’.  Within the Enneagram framework, growth is not about being more or less of something, but occurs when we fully accept all of who we are and stop trying to be someone we are not.

The Enneagram’s fundamental philosophy is that all nine types are equal. In this way the Enneagram increases acceptance of self and others, as we come to see all nine Enneagram types as “equally beautiful and problematic”. The process of acknowledging and re-owning our ‘shadow’ helps us move towards greater acceptance of ourselves ‘warts and all’, and therefore others as well. Rather than promoting one type over another as more desirable, it encourages us to see the unique strengths that each type brings, as well as the shadow of each type. This becomes invaluable when working together in teams, as it allows us to see the strengths of each Enneagram type or subtype, and harness these strengths for the benefit of the team as a whole.

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The 9 Enneagram Types

1.The Perfectionist / Reformer

Perfectionists believe they must be good and right to be worthy. Consequently, Perfectionists are conscientious, responsible, improvement-oriented and self-controlled, but also can be critical, resentful and self-judging.

2. The Connector / Helper

Helpers believe you must give fully to others to be loved. Consequently, Helpers are caring, helpful, supportive and relationship-oriented; they also can be prideful, intrusive and demanding.

3. The Performer / Achiever

Achievers believe you must accomplish and succeed to be loved. Consequently, Achievers are industrious, fast-paced, efficient and goal-oriented; they also can be inattentive to feelings, impatient and image-driven.

4.The Romantic

Romantics believe you can regain the lost ideal love or perfect state by finding a unique, fulfilling love or situation. Romantics are idealistic, deeply feeling, empathetic and authentic; they also can be dramatic, moody and sometimes self-absorbed.

5. The Observer

Observers believe they must protect themselves from a world that demands too much and gives too little. Observers seek self-sufficiency and are non-demanding, analytic, thoughtful and unobtrusive; they also can be withholding, detached and overly private.

6. The Loyal Skeptic

Loyal Skeptics believe you must gain certainty and security in a hazardous world you can’t trust. Consequently, Loyal Skeptics are intuitive, inquisitive, trustworthy, good friends and problem-solvers, but also can be doubtful, accusatory and fearful.

7. The Epicure / Adventurer

Epicures believe you must stay upbeat and keep your possibilities open to assure a good life. Consequently, Epicures seek pleasurable options, and are optimistic and adventurous; they also avoid pain, and can be uncommitted and self-serving.

8. The Protector / Challenger

Protectors believe you must be strong and powerful to assure protection and regard in a tough world. Consequently, Protectors seek justice and are direct, strong and action-oriented; they also can be overly impactful, excessive and impulsive.

9. The Mediator / Peacemaker

Mediators believe that to be loved and valued; you must blend in and go with the flow. Consequently, Mediators seek harmony and are inclusive, amiable, easygoing, comfortable and steady; they also can be self-forgetting, conflict-avoidant and stubborn.

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