Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mountain Highs and Lows Enneagram Style

Every summer I migrate to a mountain town situated on a stunning alpine lake. A town, community, or region will exhibit its own overlay of Enneagram type and my warm weather home is no different. I move from my Niney home in Molokai, Hawaii to Sevenish South Lake Tahoe.

It’s a bit of a culture shock when I first arrive. The people are chatty, perky, and almost unbearably upbeat. I AM a Seven, but it still is hard for me. I’ve settled so deeply into my Nine home where people don’t talk a lot, don’t care what you do, and like to just hang out, eat, and enjoy music.

There are multiple activities, parties, and events. Rarely does a day pass without an invitation or five. And if you hire someone to build, repair, or do something? Or commit to attending your event? Well, they may or may not make it. In this recreational paradise, the siren song of something better to do is always exerting a pull.

It is so prevalent that locals have a phrase for it: they call it “getting Tahoed” when people don’t show up as scheduled. It’s frustrating but in true Seven fashion, it is just reframed in a more positive light as one of the costs of living in outdoor recreation heaven.

Contrast this mountain town with Aspen, Colorado - Threeish mecca of movie stars, moguls, and millionaires. The first time I went to Aspen, I met no fewer than four beauty queens in the first two hours. Names were dropping like snowflakes. Everyone had predicates up the kazoo and no one was shy about letting you know who they were. I can’t remember when I’ve seen so many beautiful, seemingly accomplished people in one place. It was glittery, exciting, and utterly exhausting.

At least, Tahoe and Aspen know who they are for now. There is tension when a town begins to morph or change into a new Enneagram style. Some years ago, I was asked to do a book signing in Sun Valley, Idaho. Like Aspen and Tahoe, this small mountain town is a hiking and skiing paradise.

The day after the book signing, I taught an all day Enneagram class to a group of Sun Valley residents. We began discussing the Enneagram styles of towns and regions. There was a distinct split among the old-timers and the folks relatively new to the area. Those who’d lived there fifteen or more years decried the changes in their community from a “fun-loving, anything goes” attitude to a more “status conscious, flashy” demeanor.

The newcomers thought it was just “hip” and “cool”, even “special”. They loved that big stars now acted in the local theatre and that people found it a “destination”. Yet they began to see how change was chafing at some and that Sun Valley was experiencing growing pains. While the old-timers began to acknowledge that not all of the growth was bad.

Knowing the pluses and minuses of our own Enneagram styles helps us navigate and grow ourselves. Ditto for the regions we live in whose Enneagram overlay affects us in ways we may not realize when unconscious of their impacts. As we become more aware, we are less likely to fall prey to the downsides or lows of our own Enneagram types and of the overlays of the regions in which we live. And we can celebrate the gifts or highs of the same.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Songlines of the Enneagram

I was teaching the Enneagram to a group of military wives (amazing, strong women) at Pearl Harbor some years ago. As usually happens, most could relate to many of the types. Still one or two of the Enneagram points are unknown territory initially. One woman (self-identified as a One) could not understand the melancholy of Four. “I just don’t get it; how someone can feel that way and not want to get over it.”

Her best friend finally turned to her and said, “You know how you like to listen to country western music and weep, and you don’t want to be cheered up? It’s like that.”

“Oh,” she breathed.

Music resonates in a deep place within us. Song lyrics can illuminate type while the musical styling gives us another way to experience one of the nine worldviews. I recommend songs to my clients and students as one way in to begin understanding each of the.Enneagram types. Here are a few songlines that offer just a hint of the internal terrains.

Point One - The Perfectionist

“Nothin’ but a big bunch of nothin’
Drivin’ me insane.
Cause there ain’t no voice that’s louder
Than the one inside my brain.

Hey you go on
Go on and let me be
Quit hollerin’ at me
Quit hollerin’ at me
Sweet serenity
Quit hollerin’ at me.”

Song: Quit Hollerin’ At Me
Artist: John Prine

Point Two - The Giver

“You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.

Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there, yes I will
You’ve got a friend.”

Song: You’ve Got a Friend
Artists: James Taylor / Carol King

Point Three - The Performer

“I’ve proved who I am so many times
In magnetic strips worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And everyone was taken in.

I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing.”

Song: Pacing the Cage
Artist: Jimmy Buffett

Point Four - The Romantic

“So the next time you see me drowning
In that quicksand up to my neck.
Before you grab my hand to save me
Why don’t you ask me if I’m finished yet.

But if I truly want to be happy
I can pray for that missing piece
To the break in the cup that holds love
Inside of me.”

Song: Break In The Cup
Artist: David Wilcox

Point Five - The Observer

“Safely from my window
To the streets below
I touch no one and no one touches me.

I am a rock. I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain.
And an island never cries.”

Song: I Am A Rock
Artists: Simon and Garfunkel

Point Six - the Loyal Skeptic

“Oh the first days are the hardest days
Don’t you worry anymore.
‘Cause when life looks like easy street,
There is danger at your door.”

Song: Uncle John’s Band
Artists: The Grateful Dead

Point Seven - The Optimist

“Visions of good times that
brought so much pleasure
Makes me want to go back again...

I can’t look back for too long.
There’s just too much to see
Waiting in front of me
And I know that I just can’t go wrong.

With these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes.
Nothing remains quite the same.
With all of my running
And all of my cunning
If I couldn’t laugh, I just would go insane.”

Song: Changes in Latitude
Artist: Jimmy Buffett

Point Eight - The Straight-Shooter

“It’s like going to confession
Every time I hear you speak
Some call it sick, but I call it weak.

Complain about the present
And blame it on the past.
I’d like to find your inner child
And kick its little ass.

Get over it
Get over it
All the bitchin’ and moanin’
And pitchin’ a fit
Get over it. Get over it.”

Song: Get Over It
Artists: The Eagles

Point Nine - The Mediator

“Let it be, let it be. Let it be, let it be.
There will be an answer, let it be.

Song: Let it Be
Artists: The Beatles

“I used to run those battlelines
Trying to smooth over what got said.
I thought it was my duty
To plead and to implore.
But I caught too much crossfire
In your covert war.”

Song: Covert War
Artist: David Wilcox

Of course, a song by itself cannot communicate the complexity of type. It serves merely as an opening, a blossoming of empathy and a beginning point for inquiry to learn more. Songlines touch our heart for an emotional connection with our own types and others. Perhaps you have some favorite songs that resonate with an aspect of Enneagram type - share them with us here.

And visit iTunes to download the above songs for yourself.