The Enneagram Amplified

In the 3rd grade we put on a state recital.  We sang songs about the states, we made and held posters with our special state on them, and we had to practice a lot.  I was in the front row so I was obviously important to the production.  Leading up to the recital we would rehearse everyday.  It took a lot of work to get 3rd graders to stand still and sing together I guess.

In rehearsal, a few days before the recital, I was having a hard time standing up.  I was bent over with my state sign at my knees.  The teacher asked me a few times to straighten up, so I did, but my body literally just wouldn’t stand up.

“Are you feeling okay?” the teacher asked me? It would have been out of character for me to be in trouble for anything other that talking too much.

“I’m fine. My body just won’t let me stand up straight.” I replied, while straightening up.  Somewhere in there I collapsed and spent the rest of my afternoon on my great grandma’s hard, mustard-colored, embossed couch sleeping and throwing up.

Even as a 3rd grader I was an eight.  I refused to allow even sickness to control me.

Recently, I came across a podcast about a new book called, “The Road Back to You.”  Ian Cron, one of the writers of the book was a guest on the podcast sharing all about the Enneagram.  I was so intrigued when I pulled into the driveway, I immediately took a free test I found online that would give me confirmation of my number.  When I read my results I literally felt like someone had been studying me and writing about me!

I sent the test to all my employees.  They thought I was nuts.  The test said nothing of what the numbers meant, just some mumbo jumbo about numbers and health.

My co-manager said, “People think you’re nuts.  What’s this all about?”  So I read her the description of her number.  She was quiet at first, because she’s a 5, but by day two she was charting everyone’s numbers, had made her husband and our managers take the test, and finally felt like she wasn’t alone.

She struggled with how others perceived her as cold, stand-offish, and superior.  She’d taken lots of personality tests, related to some, but overall just felt very misunderstood.  She identified as an introvert and was often frustrated when people didn’t meet her standards.  She struggled opening up to new people, avoided confrontation at all costs, and no one would describe her as a social butterfly.  On the other hand, she’s who you want in your corner, an information junkie, solution-oriented, and one of the best moms I know.  When she read the description of her number she said, “There are other people like me? I’m not alone?”

In addition both her and I have been able to see other people’s behaviors in a completely different light.

“She’s not lazy, she just has a hard time prioritizing and isn’t in touch with her own wants and needs.”

“When he walks into the room, he looks for the person that needs help and is drawn to them”.

“What I feel like is intimidation by him is actually intimacy in his mind.”

And the list goes on.  We felt like we had the cheat sheet for life and people.  The secrets behind what makes people tick and why.  It made us better leaders: more patient, more understanding, able to give grace, to see things through the glasses of another personality type.

That’s really what leading people is all about.  To be successful in a team you have to be empathetic.  It’s easier to be empathetic when you understand, when you can see things from a different perspective.

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