As I mentioned in a previous blog, I’ve recently become fascinated with a personality assessment called the “enneagram.” The enneagram is based on a theory that there are 9 basic personality types, with some variations based on “wings” and whether one is operating in health or in “dis-integration.” Any further attempt to explain the enneagram, in one blog post, would be futile, and would likely mis-represent what the enneagram is and how it works. For further information on the enneagram, I would encourage you to visit www.suzannestabile.com, www.iancron.com, www.theroadbacktoyou.com, www.cac.org/the-enneagram-an-introduction, and www.typologypodcast.com
I’ve also previously shared, I am a 9 on the enneagram – the “Peacemaker.” That means, when I’m healthy and fully-functioning, I can be flexible, open, agreeable, and comfortable grappling with diverse people, perspectives, opinions and views. But, when I’m unhealthy, particularly if I’m not dealing with my anger constructively, as a 9, I tend to avoid conflict, become passive (maybe passive aggressive?), indecisive, and will likely withdraw and hide. At my worst, 9’s tend to become increasingly lethargic, and look for ways to numb their growing discomfort. If you know me, I hope you’ve experienced more of the healthy side of my nine-ness, than the unhealthy. But, I’m also realistic.
For those who are curious, I’m a 9 with a 1 (Perfectionist) wing, whether I’m healthy, or not.
The thing I appreciate most about the enneagram is that it reveals both your unhealthy tendencies, AND offers a path to growth, integration, and maturity. Rather than just revealing who I am, like it or not, the enneagram points me down a road toward potentially becoming my very best me!
This morning, I’ve been spending some time studying what my particular pathway to optimal health might be. As 9s become healthier, they tend to take on characteristics of healthy 3s, The Performers. My wife is a healthy 3, so I have a great example to emulate! Healthy 3s are energetic, healthy and motivated. Healthy 3s are optimistic and enthusiastic. They set goals worth pursuing, and do so to completion. Healthy 3s are dependable, and get a lot of great things accomplished!
There have been seasons of my life when I might have been described more as 3 than a 9. Though I’ve always had 9 tendencies – especially by avoiding conflict – setting and pursuing goals, and taking on big projects, has been a defining part of much of my life.
But, not always. Maybe not as much, recently.
As I’ve been reading and reflecting this morning, I’m wondering what new, worth-while goals I need to pursue. I certainly need to work on my physical health, and have already started – I have a pretty big goal to pursue and attain by the end of 2018! I have some ministry-related goals I’m working on, and a few more brewing. There are a few others I’m actively considering, which I may share as they become more clearly defined.
But, my point of sharing this is really less about me, my nine-ness, and the ways I personally need to grow, or even the goals I’m going to pursue, and more about the opportunity we all have, at every stage of life, to become better than we currently are. We each can, and dare I say must, strive to become our best, healthy, whole, mature selves. After all, isn’t that who God created us to be?
As Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile write, in The Road Back to You: an Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, “We owe it to the God who created us, to ourselves, to the people we love and to all with whom we share this troubled planet to become ‘saints (our true selves).’ How else can we run and complete the errand on which God sent us here?”
Whether you like the enneagram, or not; whether you know your type number, or not; there is a path for all of us to take toward becoming healthier than we are. It doesn’t have to be the enneagram. There are plenty of other paths to self-discovery and development.
I’ve shared mine, in part.