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What's Your Number: The Enneagram Explained

Have you ever wondered why you work great with some people, but others are difficult? Ever bonded immediately with a person you just met, but with others it took months before you could tolerate them. Why do some people leave you completely flummoxed? Chances are it is because of personality type.

Personality. Our personality type can sometimes make it difficult to understand and/or get along with others. Being aware of your own personality style and that of others helps you to 1) tweak your approach in order to get along better with others; 2) provide people with information or feedback in a way they can accept; and/or 3) build bridges to understanding and improving relationships. This is true with work colleagues, neighbors, your lover or your child… everyone in your life, including, the clerk at the DMV.

Knowing Your Self. We all have subconscious motivations and behavior tendencies based on our type; operating within our type is our “home base” and typically allows us to stay in our comfort zone, but also, to keep making the same mistakes.

Avoiding Conflict. By understanding your type, you may avoid conflicts before they arise. If you know you tend to have a knee-jerk reaction when someone complains, you can learn to temper your reaction and be more receptive to hearing the real message behind the complaint. Or, if you’re usually quick to take responsibility for a problem, even if it’s not your fault, you can train yourself to be more analytical in evaluating the situation before accepting responsibility.

Finding Your Best Vocation or Hobby. Your personality type plays a big role in whether or not you will thrive in a particular environment, how well you will perform and your overall satisfaction. For instance, if you are a conflict avoider, you would most likely be miserable as a trial attorney. More self-awareness helps you choose more wisely where and with whom you want to spend your time.

Appreciating Diversity. Recognizing how your personality type differs from and interacts with other types can be fascinating and can give you a great appreciation for diversity and what it adds to your team, work environment, your family and your life. Sometimes it’s really nice to have other skill sets around you so you don’t have to do it all yourself.

Type for Life. We develop our “type” as very young children while we learn to navigate our world, learning how to meet our needs for love and safety. Although we can learn to adapt our behavior when and where needed, our type doesn’t change. The Enneagram offers tools for improving our Emotional Quotient (EQ), making real connections and gaining personal enlightenment; showing a path to integrate the core strengths and talents of each type, while maintaining our own wonderful uniqueness.

Type 1, The Perfectionist or The Judge

Grounded, perfectionist and controlled with a strong need to do the right thing without compromise. Ones can be highly critical of themselves and others. They usually don’t realize the extent of their anger and resentment, although others may be aware of it. Ones self-talk…“You should do that because it’s right,” “You shouldn’t do that because it’s wrong.” Type Ones: Hilary Clinton, Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Harrison Ford, Michelle Obama, my grandmother.

Type 2, The Helper or The Lover

Twos are friendly, loving, positive, outgoing and helpful. They monitor the needs of others; believing they know what is best for everyone. Type Twos may overexpress their feelings, and may appear needy; paradoxically they may not be in touch with what they really need. Twos enjoy being needed, and may flatter others so that others will like them and rely on them.

Type Twos: Mother Theresa, Mr. Rogers, Kathy Bates (“Ambulance Girl” - healthier or “Misery” - very unhealthy) my mother.

Type 3: The Achiever or the Chameleon Threes are goal oriented; they can set their feelings aside to accomplish goals, so they are often not in touch with the desires of their own heart. Image is very important; they are very good at self-promotion and can adjust their personality when needed. Their sense of self-esteem generally depends outward measures of success.

Type Threes: Jeff Bezos, Oprah Winfrey, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, Tom Cruise, Michael Jordan, Paul McCartney, Leslie Knope “Parks & Recreation”.

Type 4, The Individualist or The Romantic Fours search for authenticity and uniqueness. They can be moody and often use their deep emotions and appreciation for aesthetics to pursue the arts. Fours can envy others’ happiness, while at the same time feeling disdain for those same people’s ordinariness. Fours may withdraw, so that others come and find them; or to protect themselves from getting their feelings hurt.

Type Fours: Prince, Johnny Depp, Nicholas Cage, Cher, Frasier, Judy Garland, Bob Dylan, Edgar Allan Poe, April “Parks & Recreation” Type 5, The or Sage or The Observer Fives are the intellects of the Enneagram. They may also be eccentric collectors, whether their collections are insects, books, or knowledge. Great observers of life, they are sensitive, and can withdraw from people so as not to be overwhelmed by other’s needs and emotions. Fives prefer to process with their intellect and may need time alone to process/realize their feelings.

Type Fives: Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Stephen King, Vincent Van Gogh, Howard Hughes, Jodie Foster “Contact”

Type 6, The Questioner or the Loyalist Sixes are the troubleshooters of the Enneagram; their minds continuously questioning and preparing for worst case scenarios. As a result, they can have a lot of anxiety. They are very loyal, but may drive partners crazy with their need for reassurance. Sixes often attached themselves to groups, authorities, and/or belief system for a sense of belonging and security. Type Six: Joe Biden, Woody Allen, Larry David, Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, David Letterman, Jay Leno.

Type 7, The Enthusiast, The Adventurer or the Epicurean Sevens are upbeat, energetic and eager to make a contribution to the world. Their minds are always busy making connections between different ideas, which can make them seem scattered, but also fun and entertaining. They are great at beginning projects, but can have trouble with follow through. Quick learners, they tend to study multiple things at once, moving on to the next if things get boring. Sevens have a fear of emotional pain, so they often re-frame things to be positive.

Type Sevens: Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, John F. Kennedy, Steven Spielberg, Leonardo DaVinci, a Renaissance Person, Peter Pan, Tom “Parks & Recreation”.

Type 8, The Defender or The Challenger Eights have a strong personality and strong energy, even if they are somewhat idle. They are independent, straight shooters who subconsciously fear being controlled. They tend to like big experiences, big feasts, big events or big careers. Eights have a heightened sensitivity to injustice, and are natural champions of the underdog; fighting for the rights of the oppressed. Rules aren’t as important as justice. Type Eights: Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King Jr., Russell Crowe, Frank Sinatra, Lyndon B. Johnson, Golda Meier, Ron Swanson “Parks & Recreation”

Type 9: The Peacemaker or Mediator Nines have a warm, relaxed, grounded presence. They tend to merge with those around them. This helps them understand others, but they can be out of touch with their own feelings and desires. Nines avoid direct conflict: they may be passive-aggressive, or if pushed, they can dig in and become immovable. They want to maintain an inner sense of peace, so they either merge with others or withdraw to protect that.

Type Nines: Barack Obama, William Hurt “The Accidental Tourist”, Walt Disney, Garrison Keillor, “Pleasantville”, Marge Simpson, Gary “Parks and Recreation”.


You can learn more about your type and how you show up to others by joining us at Hope Springs for a transformative retreat.

Jandie Lane is an expert in human understanding and the Enneagram, she is a workshop leader, keynote speaker, executive coach and certified Enneagram trainer. Her mission is to help people lead happier, more successful lives by having greater understanding and empathy for themselves and others.

She is leading a weekend retreat on Self-awareness & Empathy through the Enneagram.

For more information on the workshop:

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