What is the Enneagram and Why Should I Care?

Have you heard of the Enneagram? In the past several years, the Enneagram has become a popular tool for categorizing and understanding personality. It seems to be popping up all over the place through coaches, in various organizations, on social media, and through memes. 

What exactly is it? The Enneagram is a study of the nine basic types of people. It explains why we behave the way we do and points to specific directions for individual growth. It’s an important tool for self-awareness and aids in understanding and improving relationships with others in your life. 

It teaches that early in life we learned to feel safe and cope with our circumstances by developing a strategy based on our natural talents and abilities. Ennea is Greek for the number 9 and gram means “a drawing.” The Enneagram means a drawing with nine points. It is a typology system for understanding and organizing personality traits.

I am a bit of a personality assessment nerd and see value in the nuances of various tools. I think the Enneagram is one of my favorites. I like it so much that I got my certification as a Facilitator and Coach using the tool. 

Let’s explore the classifications in a little more detail. Although classifications may vary a bit depending on the source, the most commonly utilized typology is as follows:

Type One – The Reformer (The Rational, Idealistic Type)

Ones are responsible, thorough, and hard-working with high standards for themselves and others. They want to improve themselves and the world around them. 

Type Two – The Helper (The Caring, Interpersonal Type)

Twos are empathetic, warm, caring, and generous. They are motivated by the need to be loved and valued – and to express positive feelings toward others. 

Type Three – The Achiever (The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type)

Threes are self-assured, action-oriented, charming, ambitious, competent, and energetic. They want to be productive, achieve success, and avoid failure. 

Type Four – The Individualist (The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type)

Fours are creative, authentic, and intuitive. They are motivated by the need to experience their feelings, to be understood, and to be unique.

Type Five – The Investigator (The Intense, Cerebral Type)

Fives are excellent thinkers and strategists. They want to know and understand everything, to be self-sufficient, and to avoid looking foolish. 

Type Six – The Loyalist (The Committed, Security-Oriented Type)

Sixes are reliable, hard-working, loyal, and trustworthy. They want security so they focus on creating safety and structure.

Type Seven – The Enthusiast (The Busy, Fun-Loving Type)

Sevens are extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous – the life of the party. They want to be happy and plan enjoyable activities and avoid suffering and pain. 

Type Eight – The Challenger (The Powerful, Dominating Type)

Eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. They desire to be self-reliant and strong and to avoid feeling weak or dependent. 

Type Nine – The Peacemaker (The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type)

Nines are creative, optimistic, supportive, and go with the flow. They want to keep the peace, merge with the agendas of others, and avoid conflict. 

Each type also has a primary wing which has a lot of influence over their personality. The wings are the types on either side of your type. So, for example, I am a Two and my primary wing is a Three. This means that my relationship-oriented tendencies are heavily influenced by the achieving, action-oriented tendencies of Type Three.  

So, at first glance, what type do you think you are? I look forward to sharing more about this exciting tool over the coming months. 


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