Saturday, December 29, 2007

Enneagram Prescriptions For The New Year

A few years back, my friend (and one of my favorite Threes), Susan Page, was writing an article about me and the Enneagram. Since the New Year was nearly upon us, she asked me if I could come up with a simple prescription for each of the types to help folks loosen the hold of their Enneagram habits. I chanced to find these prescriptions recently and offer them to all of us as a way of attempting to be “Easy In Our Harness” as Tom Condon is fond of saying. (Visit Tom’s website for info on his books, tapes, and classes at

Here are the types and their prescriptions - let me know if you find them helpful, and please share your own ideas and suggestions for helping us liberate ourselves from type.

Type One, the Perfectionist, is run by a demanding inner critic and a desire to be the best they can be. "Ones" are responsible, dependable reformers, but also may be critical, inflexible, and judgmental.
Prescription: Take frequent mini vacations away from responsibility. Play actually makes you a better person.

Type Two, the Giver, fulfills others' needs often to be important to them. Altruistic and caring, “Twos” can also be manipulative and aggressive, believing they know best what others need.
Prescription: Nurture yourself as you would a small child or one in great need. When you fill yourself up, it won't drain you to give to others.

Type Three, the Performer, needs to appear successful to others and is the master of image. "Threes" are charismatic, charming, prodigious ‘do-ers’, but may be also workaholic and self promoting.
Prescription: Do nothing! Spend time alone, listening to your inner voice rather than focusing on achievement, or recognition.

Type Four, the Romantic, searching for an elusive yet essential missing element, longs to find someone who will match his/her emotional intensity. “Fours” are sensitive and authentic, but can be dramatic, moody, and dissatisfied.
Prescription: Focus on the here and now and make a gratitude list of gifts already in your life.

Type Five, the Observer, searching for knowledge and understanding, has a strong need for privacy. "Fives" are cogent thinkers and synthesize information, but may be detached, withholding time, information, even themselves.
Prescription: Practice involvement by giving up some private time and take the first step towards others.

Six , the Loyal Skeptic, plans for the worst case in situations and
peoples’ motives for safety’s sake. "Sixes" are loyal, excellent troubleshooters, but can be doubtful, over-analyzing pessimists. Prescription: Assume other people's hidden motives have your best interests at heart, then notice if relationships change.

Seven, the Optimist, is the fun and adventure seeker. Believing in
unlimited possibility, they sample everything good in life but avoid the difficult or painful. "Sevens" are fun-loving visionaries, but can be uncommitted dilettantes who can’t be counted on in the hard times.
Prescription: Spend one weekend day a month in quiet reflection with no plans or options.

Eight, the Straight Shooter, lives by the laws of the jungle: only the strong survive. "Eights" are decisive, straightforward, protect others, and give 150%, but can be blunt, impulsive, and steam roll others.
Prescription: Ask co-workers, family, and friends for honest feedback about your impact on them. Resist arguing your side.

Nine, the Mediator, wanting to keep the peace, takes on the priorities of others. Often unaware of their own desires, "Nines" are accepting, go-with-the-flow types who mediate successfully, but can be passive, procrastinating, fence-sitters.
Prescription: Act on your own behalf. Make a to-do list, checking daily what was finished.

As we enter 2008, let’s all try using the Enneagram to discover, “Who am I, who might I become, and what is my unique contribution?”

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Enneagram Matches: Finding A Mate

After “How do I find my type?” the question I hear most is “What Enneagram personality type is best for me to be with? What type goes best with a One? Or a Five?”

Here’s the skinny: I’ve seen all the combinations of type work together. I’ve seen the same combinations become total train wrecks. We can’t match people by personality type, anymore than we can state that certain personality types will be drawn to particular cultures or countries. I’m drawn to Bali and the American Southwest. Another Seven might feel closest to the forests of Canada or the moors of England. We look for a resonance and we look for qualities important to us. In my search for a mate, I realized that I was looking for a man who was sensitive, not afraid to share feelings, on a spiritual path, and more committed to truth than comfort. What Enneagram type would match that? Luckily, I didn’t use the Enneagram to even narrow my search and found all these qualities - in a Three! Had I been looking for a specific Enneagram type to embody these virtues, a Three would probably have been last on my list.

Yet who can blame us for wanting to make sense of relationship and finding a mate? We want an answer: who should I be with? Who am I simpatico with? How can I find someone to accompany me on that path with heart? Although we know deep inside that there is no easy answer, we keep hoping to narrow the field when we are searching for someone to share our life.

Vanessa, a Three, is a good friend of ours. She felt that Dewitt and I had the ideal relationship Although she knew better (she is an Enneagram teacher), she decided to look for a Seven to share her life, hoping to duplicate that Seven-Three combination. Despite initial attraction and seeming compatibility, the relationship was filled with turmoil and difficulty. It ended with bad feelings on both sides. “I got hammered,” says Vanessa morosely. “I know I’m not supposed to find a type. I just thought that maybe.....”

We cannot choose a mate on the basis of their Enneagram type. Human beings are much too complex for that. We can look for qualities that are important to us. We can choose a partner willing to undertake the journey of self-exploration and commitment to learning and sharing together. And we can choose to honor the culture and reality of the person who becomes our mate.
(Material adapted from "The Everyday Enneagram" by Lynette Sheppard)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Enneagram Tests -What Good Are They?

I don't have any links on my Essential Enneagram site to a test for determining Enneagram type. There's a good reason for this. The tests just don't work all that well to find your type. I really wish that they did. Still, it seems that humans are too complex overall to quantify on paper and pen (virtual or actual). Sure, some tests are better than others, but they can stop or truncate the necessary self-observation that leads to discovering your Enneagram type. If you quit questioning or watching your internal landscape when the test gives you the "answer" detailing your Enneagram point, you may find yourself mistyped and barking up the wrong banyan.

Enneagram tests DO have a purpose, however. By virtue of the questions offered, they can provide a great starting point for your own journey of self-inquiry. When taken in this spirit, I highly recommend availing yourself of one or more tests to help narrow and define your search. I'm partial to David Daniels's test - check out - but remember that testing is information-gathering to help you find out more of your worldview, not a way to definitively "nail down" your type. Alas, there are no shortcuts.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

An Enneagram Conversation

Welcome to the Everyday Enneagram Blog. I will soon have the “mothership” blog up and running on my main site at But I felt that this conversation just can’t wait. Naturally, I will continue to update this blog as well even when the main one is up to speed.

The impetus for this blog has come from those of you who’ve contacted me with questions, concerns, thoughts, and ideas not addressed in my book. (or any that I know of.) Our questions, answers, musings, and wonderings may serve to start a richer conversation through which we might learn a little more about ourselves. That’s the real goal here - not learning the Enneagram more deeply. The Enneagram is just a map, however rich and layered. Our inner territory is the real knowledge we wish to gain and apply. The real journey we wish to take is Home to our essential self.

Lofty though this goal may sound, don’t expect this blog to be “serious”. Reverent irreverency has always worked best for me in my desire to grow psychologically and spiritually. Everything is sacred and nothing is sacred. Let crazy wisdom reveal the work we must do daily, quietly, steadily to become our best selves. (For more general info on the Enneagram or to contact Lynette, visit the home page at