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.

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