Knowing yourself with Enneagram

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” said Aristotle.

That must be why many business schools and corporations have their students and employees do the popular Myers-Briggs test during the orientation period. The business school I attended was equally famous at graduating some world class leaders as well as world class villains.

World class leaders get acknowledged for pushing the edge of envelope. They become villains when they lose themselves in the act, when ego takes over the ultimate noble reason of why they are doing what they are doing.

One of my favorite personality tests that analyze where one stands in their personal evolution is the Enneagram. I did an Enneagram workshop few years ago and learned a ton about myself. 

According to Wikipedia, The Enneagram of Personality has been widely promoted in both business management and spiritual contexts through seminars, conferences, books, magazines, and DVDs.

In business contexts it is generally used as a typology to gain insights into workplace dynamics; in spirituality it is more commonly presented as a path to higher states of being, essence, and enlightenment. It has been described as a method for self-understanding and self-development.

There are nine Enneagram types. Everybody has only one dominant type. And all aspects of all other types. Each type has 9 levels. Level 1-3 are healthy levels. Level 4-6 are average. Level 7-9 is considered mental illness.

The 9 types are:
1) The Reformer
2) The Helper
3) The Achiever
4) The Individualist
5) The Investigator
6) The Loyalist
7) The Enthusiast
8) The Challenger
9) The Peacemaker

Types 8-9-1 have the Belly as their instinctive center. Types 2-3-4 have the Heart as their instinctive center. Types 5-6-7 have the Head as their center.

My dominant type is Three – The Achiever.

Understanding my own type and the dominant types of people close to me has been very helpful. Enneagram helps to recognize when one is operating at non-optimum levels. So you know how to react.

There is no good/bad/ideal types or matches between the types. All is good as long as everyone is operating at healthy levels. For example, here is an example of what healthy to unhealthy range looks like in Type 2 and 3 – The Helper and The Achiever.

Type 2 – The Helper:

Type 3 – The Achiever:

A couple years after my Enneagram workshop, I came across this Enneagram book in a quaint bookstore in Santa Monica. I found it equally worthwhile.

I especially liked the totems used to explain the unhealthy versus healthy behavior of each type. Here are what the healthy / unhealthy totems are for some of the types.

Type 2 – The Helper:

Type 3 – The Achiever:

Type 4 – The Individualist:

Type 5 – The Investigator:

You can take the Enneagram test here for $12 (~30 mins) to get your detailed report.