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What's 'The Enneagram' and What Personality Type Are You?

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

An Article by Wellness Contributor and TDC Developmental Coach Louise Walker

As a developmental coach, I’m regularly asked "What is The Enneagram?" Here's my simple explanation in four key points:

  1. The Enneagram is a map of human nature⁠ that provides powerful insights into the inner-workings of our personality

  2. It describes nine different Enneagram personalities, each with a unique way of thinking, feeling and acting

  3. It’s a powerful tool for self-awareness, and profoundly improves our understanding of ourselves and others

  4. The word “Ennea” means nine in Greek, and “gram” means a drawn graph or chart

Image by Ante Hamersmit, Unsplash

What’s so different about The Enneagram from other personality tests?

The Enneagram is ancient wisdom with origins that date back to Pythagoras times, around 500BC. Unlike other tests, The Enneagram does not intend to “box you” and label you as a single personality type. The purpose of The Enneagram is much more profound. By discovering and becoming objective to your Enneagram personality, instead of being narrowly categorised and limited, you’re empowered to see the place from which you view the world.

The journey to discovering your Enneagram type is usually profound, deeply insightful, healing, and at times, challenging. It requires us to think outside our immediate perspectives, to look objectively at how we're thinking, feeling, and behaving, and to compassionately enquire into what’s driving this way of being.

Image by Jayden Yoon, Unsplash

Rewind 10 Years . . . .

My life changed when I learnt about The Enneagram. I’ll never forget the moment I discovered my Enneagram personality type. I was at a full day workshop and the presenter spoke through each Enneagram type and then encouraged us to reflect on which most closely described us.

I could hear myself in all of them and was a little confused about which type I ran. Approaching the presenter, a coach I’d worked closely with, I was thinking, “As long as I’m not a Type Three (Achiever), I’m fine with being any of them!”

After I had explained my deliberation, my coach Jay said with love, “Lou, you’re a bloody Three, through and through, no doubt! Just look at you!”

I reflected on the qualities of the Type Three, how well turned out they are, how they like to be seen professionally, how much they value “doing” and being productive, being seen as successful (and having their shit together!), and let out a big sigh. In that moment I let in the undeniable truth that I ran a Type Three personality, and at the same time I stepped into a deeply profound healing and self-discovery journey.

Image by J Balla, Unsplash

Introducing the Nine Enneagram Personalities

As you read them, notice how each type has a unique way of thinking, feeling and acting.

Type One: The Reformer

“I strive to become a (good) better person. To become more pure.”

Qualities: Conscientious, detailed, responsible, improvement focused.

Type Two: The Helper

“I am always striving to be a loveable person.”

Qualities: Caring, generous, empathetic, intuitive, communicative.

Type Three: The Achiever

“I am successful, productive and efficient.”

Qualities: Ambitious, focused, energetic, high achiever, “make it happen” approach.

Type Four: The Individualist

“I am sensitive, original (unique) and creative.”

Qualities: Creative, expressive, compassionate, imaginative, emotionally deep, want to make a difference.

Type Five: The Observer

“I am knowledgeable.”

Qualities: Knowledgeable, perceptive, self-reliant, objective observer.

Type Six: The Loyalist

“I am devoted and loyal.”

Qualities: Courageous, loyal, attentive, detailed, plays devil’s advocate.

Type Seven: The Enthusiast

“I am independent – ok and together.”

Qualities: Optimistic, adventurous, fun-loving, quick thinking, spontaneous, innovative.

Type Eight: The Challenger

“I am powerful, strong, unassailable.”

Qualities: Assertive, decisive, generous, protector, powerful, self-assured, action-oriented, controlling.

Type Nine: The Peacemaker

“I am settled, I am peaceful.”

Qualities: Accommodating, patient, mediator, balanced, accepting, harmonious, aware of others.

Image by Brett Jordan, Unsplash

As you read over the nine personality descriptions you may notice that you associate with some (or all) of the types. This is perfectly normal, as we have access to all nine types. The truth is, we all run just one dominant Enneagram personality type and your type doesn't change throughout the course of your life. However, you can grow developmentally within your type and, under stress or growth, you can move towards other Enneagram personality types (that’s what the sacred geometry lines within the symbol represent).

Getting to know your Enneagram type is a huge growth opportunity, as this tool invites you to learn about, and bring awareness to, your personality’s automatic reactions, habits, gifts and challenges. It reveals your key motivation, what you’re unconsciously seeking to feel safe and to get love in the world.

Learning this about yourself provides inner freedom and supports you to have deeper relationships with others, as you understand their unique point of view, which previously you may have missed. The opportunity for evolution and a better quality of life is waiting here for you. Are you ready for the Enneagram discovery journey?

Keep a look out for our next Enneagram blog in April, where I’ll be sharing more on the profound benefits of getting to know your Enneagram type and how this new awareness changes your relationship with yourself, others and the world around you. We’ll look at some key ways that knowing your Enneagram type, and those of others, can improve your personal and professional life. We’ll also explore what traits your clients may show that may possibly indicate their Enneagram type. This can help support you to work with your clients with even more compassion, understanding and insight.

Image by Luwadlin Bosman, Unsplash

At the TDC Queenstown Retreat in October, I’ll be facilitating two Enneagram Experiential Workshops called “Explore Yourself” and “Free Yourself.”. These sessions will be revealing and transformative. You’ll get to the opportunity to learn and apply the Enneagram wisdom, experience all nine Enneagram types and dive deeply into your own personality type.

“Remember that self-discovery is a process, and the process does not end with discovering your Enneagram type – in fact, it is only the beginning.”

The Wisdom of The Enneagram, Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

Article by Louise Walker, Developmental Coach at TDC.

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1 Comment

Penelope Herbert
Penelope Herbert
Apr 05, 2023

Fascinating. Certainly better than Myers Briggs, haha. I think I'm a Seven. How fun! 😀

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