I had the privilege recently to attend an Enneagram workshop at a company, run by a consultant. For those of you who don’t know, the Enneagram is a personality system with nine styles, nine lenses on the world if you will, that reflect not only our traits but our desires, fears and motivations behind why we are the way we are and why we do what we do – it reveals the good, the bad and the ugly. The true treasure of the Enneagram however is when we work with it, it is a road map for us to get home to our True Selves – the best versions of ourselves.
The company was made up of young people in their twenties and thirties and it was refreshing to see how open and transparent they were during the process. Each person had an opportunity to stand on their number, on the Enneagram circle depicting all nine numbers, and share with their colleagues what it is like to be for example a 3 or a 7. Giving others a glimpse into the world and work environment from their perspective. Colleagues got the chance to ask each person what they would need from them in the work environment, given the dispensation of their number. Another exercise saw them tackling a work-related problem by utilising their number’s strengths and growth-lines. The consultant reiterated that now that they have a better understanding of the essence of each other, what everyone brings to the table and how they can work with each other to bring out the best in each other, it is up to them to apply it in the work environment daily.
Why is this important? In doing this we can have compassion with each other, understand each other better and understand the dynamics in our team better.
I realised that doing the Enneagram, understanding why we and our fellow beings function the way we do, experience and see life the way we do and why we react to people situations and relationships the way we do, is not enough. The value lies in realising our responsibility towards this knowledge. Now that you know why you sometimes e.g. overact or avoid certain situations, people, tasks or relationships we have a responsibility to try and do better each time. Similarly, now that we know what we do about fellow colleagues, we have a responsibility to approach and deal with them differently, because you know better. Herein lies the beauty of the Enneagram.
I gained a further insight from the openness of the consultant. She was transparent from the beginning about her number and how she experiences life and work through the motivations of that number, the good and the bad. I realised transparency in the room is key to optimise the benefits of the Enneagram.
She ended off by giving examples of how each number plays out in her life, after each number saying – “Am I a one? Am I a two?” This was profound, illustrating how we do have each number in us to a degree…. And I thought…should we not have so much more compassion and tolerance with each other?
I end of by leaving the words of this Emily Dickinson poem with you:
I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us – – don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!