Updated: Apr 7
Throughout history, who we are created to be, and how we are designed to function, has been contemplated and examined. Basically, humans are curious. We want to know the why(s) and how(s) of everything, including ourselves. I feel that exploring, discovering, and examining how we work and the why behind it, are a part of our innate survival skill set.
Plato theorized that our basic human types fell into four categories, artistic, sensible, intuitive and reasoning. Aristotle’s view on basic human types was around a social order in society. He also had four basic types, iconic pistic, noetic and dianoetic. I would love to be an iconic type! Maryanne is iconic! (FYI, iconic type in Aristotle’s thinking was one who tended to be artistic.) It is thought that the Sufi’s developed the original Enneagram symbol and corresponding structure in the 14th century.
Then you have Carl Jung the father of analytical psychology. He felt that our psyche could be categorized into 4 main areas, sensation, intuition, thinking and feeling. He more fully developed the idea of introversion and extroversion. It is Jung’s research and theories that are the basis for the development of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, one of the most well known personality profiles. I am an ENTJ, just so you know!
I have been a trainer for True Colors personality identification system for over 20 years.This was developed in 1978 by Don Lowery. With True Colors you are either a blue, orange, green or gold. (I am a gold! Yea Gold!). I love using this system to look at our personalities because it embraces an ideal that I call positive diversity. There have been many other ways to classify our basic personalities. In addition to the ones I mentioned, DiSC, Strength Finder 2.0, and various animal associations (I am a beaver. UGH! I want to be an eagle, but alas - beaver I am.)
I have been reading about and studying the Enneagram for a few years now. I even went through a certification program. The more I learn, the more I realize that I am just a beginner in the field. What make it so appealing to me is that there is great depth and many layers to the Enneagram. No-one is just one personality type, we usually have other types in the mix of who we are and in how we behave. In looking at yourself through the Enneagram “lens” one can gain insights on the personality type that you are (I am a type 2 – The Helper), add to that we can explore our “wings” the types before and after yours that you might use from time to time to help you fly. (My dominant wing type is a 3 - The Achiever.) Then, add in to the mix specific types you identify with when you are stressed (I am an 8 – the Challenger when stressed) and another type when you are relaxed (I am a 4 – the Individualist or creative). Wait!! There are more layers! Enneagram leaders have discovered; triads also known as centers, instincts or stances, sub-types, and levels of development just to name a few. Whew!! There is a lot of material here! What I find enthralling about the Enneagram is that I can delve into my personality as deep as I want.
If you want to take a look at the Enneagram and how it relates to you, I recommend that you take one of the following accredited tests. The test is a great place to start. There is a small charge for them, but when you see the results you will understand the value. I have worked extensively with both tests and find that they are reliable and informative. Here are the two links:
The Enneagram Institute: https://tests.enneagraminstitute.com/ (also known as the Riso-Hudson Test)
The Wagner Enneagram Personality Style Scales (WEPSS): https://www.wepss.com/index.asp (my personal preference)
There are some great books, podcasts, YouTube channels, and groups available to help us along our Enneagram journey. I recommend looking at material produced by the following Enneagram leaders, Dr. Jerome Wagner, Ian Cron, Beatrice Chestnut, Suzanne Stabile, Clare Loughrige, and Father Richard Rohr.
Delving into a better understanding of our personality is an opportunity for personal growth. Enneagram is becoming a popular way to take this journey. I encourage you to explore your personal Enneagram profile, and the path of personal discovery that it takes you on.