Saturday, August 27, 2011

Oh Canada! Can We Change A Country’s Type?

Countries have an overlay of Enneagram type; a cultural bias that informs the worldview of its citizens. The United States is a Three culture (although lately we seem solidly stuck in the low side of Six: us vs them, analysis paralysis so that nothing gets done, suspicion and paranoia, etc.)

In a Three culture, image is important and doing is highly valued. The first question a new acquaintance will ask is “What do you do?” Americans are big on success, productivity, and looking good. This is fine unless, like an unconscious Three, we lose sight of our authentic self in the quest for success.

Threes do well in a Three culture. As do other high energy types. Some types, however, can feel like strangers in a strange land. Fives can feel overwhelmed and unsafe. Nines can feel undervalued for their significant gifts. Twos, particularly male twos, may overdevelop a wing point to keep from being seen as weak when exercising their gifts of empathy and helping. (We’re pretty much okay with women being empathetic givers.)

We recently visited friends in Canada. My Eight girlfriend asked me what I thought Canada was as a country and I replied Five. “Absolutely!” she declared.

“And if you think it is hard being a female Eight - try being a female Eight in a Five culture. It’s a relief to me to travel to the US to work because I can let more of my energy out. Particularly working in a male dominated world.”

Stories like this illustrate why it is important to look at type within countries and professions, as well as on an individual level. As self-observing leads to more conscious behavior and choice on and individual level, so might knowing the pitfalls and gifts of a country or workplace worldview lead to similar awakening and possible change.

When we break the trance of habitual perceiving, acting, and being, only then is transformation possible. Small sacred steps might be the answer. When we open ourselves to other types, other worldviews, we have the possibility of true understanding.

When we further allow the instincts of self-preservation, one-to-one connection, and social to be illuminated and thereby loosened in their grip upon us, we open a space for another way of being in the world.

How do we do this? Change the worldview of a country? A profession or workplace? Maybe what we really wish to do is simply increase awareness; the same thing the Enneagram teaches each of us. I sure would welcome a little more awareness here in the U.S.A.

A dear friend of mine, musician Christine Covington, wrote these song lyrics:
“I can’t change the world
Until I first change me.
I can't change the world til I change me.”

Self-observation and self-disclosure along with a huge helping of compassion might just be a good recipe to start. The ripples might move outward in ways we can only imagine. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we might dream this big.