I was introduced to the Enneagram in 1997, since when I have found it a powerful and practical tool, in my own life and relationships, and in my work - originally as a psychotherapist and now also as a business coach and consultant.
The Enneagram system is not confined to what modern psychology regards as the 'personality' - it includes the whole of human nature, mental, emotional and physical - but I will limit this brief introduction to the personality types and how they can help you in your personal and professional development.
What can the Enneagram offer you?
The Enneagram types are not made up of lists of character traits, but are founded on a person’s core values. Each type represents a fundamental decision about what is most important in life - such as power, security, harmony, knowledge or fulﬁlment. This decision is a two-edged sword: focusing on any of these important values enables us to make a valuable contribution in many ar-eas of life; but it also causes us to neglect other values, creating a psychological ‘blind spot’ that limits our perspective and prevents us from developing beyond a certain point.
Identifying your Enneagram type can show you this blind spot and open up unexpected options for change. It can help you break long standing patterns that have been holding you back, some-times without your realising it.
Whether or not knowing your strengths and weaknesses is important to you personally, it is vital to your professional development. Without this knowledge you risk choosing the wrong chal-lenges or even the wrong career. You are also likely to keep coming up against the same obstacles to success.
Identifying and working with your Enneagram type can help you play to your strengths by choos-ing professional challenges that are most appealing and appropriate for your talents. Knowing your ‘blind spot’ helps you work around the obstacles it creates for you. Personal relationships
Well these don’t come with an instruction manual, do they? For most of us, personal relationships are most rewarding or the most frustrating part of life - or both. In some ways we can be so close to another, yet in others feel so apart. How many times have we all felt, when an argument starts or a misunderstanding arises, ‘That’s not what I meant at all!’? Understanding your own and others’ Enneagram types allows you to relate to others with greater empathy and compassion, leading to less conﬂict and clearer communication.
It’s hard to think of a job in which dealing with people is not a vital skill. For anyone in one of the ‘people professions’ - such as managing, teaching, counseling, coaching, consulting, sales, medicine or politics - it is central to the success or failure of your work.
The Enneagram offers you a powerful framework for relating to others more authentically and constructively. Whether inﬂuencing, managing, selling, caring, team-building, presenting or advis-ing, it can help you communicate effectively and respectfully, extending your inﬂuence and open-ing up new options for collaboration.
I’ve left this one last as it’s perfectly possible to use the Enneagram as a practical tool for self-knowledge and relating to others without any spiritual element. On the other hand, those with an interest in spiritual development will want to know that the En-neagram has been used as a framework for meditation and growth in several different spiritual traditions. For the Suﬁs, the mystics of Islam, the Enneagram is the ‘face of God’. Christian teachers have traced the seven deadly sins - and their antidotes - in the Enneagram types. And Buddhist teachers use the Enneagram as a ‘map of attachments’ that can guide meditators on the way to awakening. More modern spiritual schools that use the Enneagram include the Fourth Way teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff and the Arica training of Oscar Ichazo.