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  • Writer's pictureDavid Nagai

The Enneagram

Updated: May 21, 2021

The Enneagram is a personality assessment (evaluation) system that helps people understand themselves and others more deeply. There are nine personality types, and each type has its unique strengths and weaknesses.

The beauty of the Enneagram is partly that you can capitalize (maximize) on your strengths if you are aware of them, but even more, you can learn to improve your shadow side, or weaknesses. Many people in the world have a very shallow self-understanding. But if you can identify which type you are, you will have the opportunity to self-reflect and improve the way you live your life.

Type One: The Reformer

Reformers are rational idealists. They are highly principled, care about ethics and morality, and are perfectionistic. They have strong convictions (beliefs) about what is right and wrong. Since they are attuned to moral principles, they often try to fix, improve, or reform organizations and society.

Ones have a fear of being corrupt (bad), or not good enough. Since they try so hard to do what is right, the thought of failing or being wrong scares them. So the root need for a One is to always be right. This means that they can often be stubborn, or they refuse to acknowledge when they are wrong.

When Ones are unhealthy, they can be overly judgmental and critical. They often experience anger or resentment (bitter anger). When they are healthy, they are able to let go of nitpicky (overly critical about small details) details and enjoy the beauty and joy in life, while at the same time improving the world.

Type Two: The Helper

Helpers love to serve people and make other people happy. They enjoy people and focus a lot of energy on relationships. Generally, Twos are great friends or lovers and are very helpful and harmonious teammates.

Twos try to win the love of people by serving or helping. At times, this can feel too intrusive or possessive for those being helped. What Twos don’t realize is that their root need is to be loved, but they think that they don’t have any needs and it’s other people that have needs that they can fill.

When Twos are unhealthy or stressed, they can be prideful, which can lead to them becoming dominating and aggressive. This might happen when they do so much to help others, but don’t feel appreciated for their work. When they are healthy, they give their heart and time generously but also experience the freedom to receive what they need with self-awareness and humility.

Type Three: The Achiever

The achiever is confident, charismatic, ambitious, and results-oriented. Being conscious of status, they always try to compete, win, advance and excel, often putting them in leadership positions.

A Three’s basic desire is to be “worthy.” That means their basic fear is that they might be perceived as worthless and not valuable. So, they are afraid of losing or failing.

When they are at their worst, Threes are vain (egocentric, conceited), deceptive (misleading), and do whatever they need to win. They may overwork or deceptively (dishonestly) manipulate situations in order to get ahead. When Threes are at their best, they are authentic, loyal to other people, and contribute to purposeful projects with benevolent (generous) and sensitive energy.

Type Four: The Individualist

The individualist is dramatic, expressive, introspective, and emotional. They ponder the depth of life and long for beauty and meaning. Many Fours are creative artists of some sort or another.

The Four’s biggest fear is that they are not important and do not have an individual identity. So, they spend their life creating meaning and their unique identity.

When they are healthy, they are objective and principled in a way that allows them to add unique value to the world. When unhealthy, they become overly moody and clingy (attached to people), often experiencing sadness and meaninglessness.

Type Five: The Investigator

The Investigator is curious, innovative, perceptive, and objective. They live in their heads (only think), are always thinking, and do very thorough research to find the facts. Many Fives are researchers, scientists, or engineers. (Think Einstein and Stephen Hawking)

The Five’s deep desire is to get more knowledge. This possession of knowledge, they think, will protect them from the uncertainties and threats in the world. If they are not careful, their thirst for knowledge will make them greedy for more and more knowledge.

At their best, Fives are visionary pioneers who take action to bring valuable new perspectives to the world. But at their worst, they live in their heads and never take meaningful action on their ideas.

Type Six: The Loyalist

The Loyalist is responsible, cautious, suspicious, and trustworthy. Being focused on security and commitment, they are usually loyal friends that always make very safe and measured (thoughtful) decisions.

For a Six, the world feels like a dangerous place and they feel a lot of fear and skepticism. So, they spend their energy predicting problems before they arise so they can avoid them. They often doubt themselves, so they try to gain the support of others who will help keep them safe.

When they are stressed, Sixes become competitive and arrogant because they fear the loss of security. When they are healthy, they are able to capitalize on their ability to pursue wise, safe decisions, but also be relaxed and optimistic in the process.

Type Seven: The Enthusiast

The Enthusiast is variety seeking, busy, and spontaneous, and loves fun and adventure. They are usually fun to hang out with and bring life to any party or situation. Their curiosity and desire to have interesting new experiences makes them people of high energy and passion.

Sevens essentially try to avoid pain and, instead, maximize satisfaction and contentment in life. They want to be free and never miss out on exciting experiences. It’s hard for them to say “no” to invitations and opportunities.

Unhealthy Enthusiasts can become critical, perfectionistic, and overindulgent (excessive). But when they are at their best, they harness (utilize) their passion and energy into a healthy and balanced focus.

Type Eight: The Challenger

The Challenger is dominating and powerful. They are confident, decisive, and are comfortable with confrontation and conflict. Oftentimes, these bold, controlling types are either leaders or pioneers who fight hard for something they believe in.

Eights desire to be self-reliant, important, and controlling of their environment. They never want to be seen as weak or out of control.

When they are at their worst, Eights are harsh and dominating – always seeking more power and control. However, at their best, Eights use their natural ability to control and challenge to benefit other people and bring justice or reform to the world.

Type Nine: The Peacemaker

Peacemakers are relaxed, agreeable, and humble. They usually try to be supportive and friendly, and help keep the peace in the group. Most people like Nines because they are so easy to connect with and are so harmonious.

What Nines fear is conflict that will separate them from the group they belong to, which might cause them to lose the peaceful and secure relationships they have. By being peacemakers, they can cultivate the stability and peace that they so desire.

When Nines are unhealthy, they can be anxious, passive, and lazy, simply trying to avoid any type of conflict even if it should be faced. But when they are healthy, they become more assertive, embracing who they are and taking action even if it may lead them into uncomfortable confrontation that is necessary for change.

So, which type do you think you are? When you realize your type, you most likely will feel both convicted (feel guilty) and embarrassed. That’s okay – most people do. If you are not sure, take a test in English or Japanese at the links provided.

*** Listen to audio here *** (Includes extended cultural analysis)


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