“Your personality is who you seem to be, but it is not who you are.”
– Ian Morgan Cron
I’ve been learning about the Enneagram this year. It’s a personality typing system based on ancient wisdom for spiritual growth.
But it’s also based on oral tradition, not written, so when I got the opportunity to listen instead of just reading about it, I took it.
Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, authors of The Road Back to You, are traveling the country giving weekend seminars called “Know Your Number.” I attended last month in Montgomery, Alabama. (I reviewed the book here, including the nine types.)
On Friday afternoon of the seminar, I thought my number was a 1, the Perfectionist. (I reload the dishwasher; I read all instruction manuals; I keep all my tax returns neatly filed for years).
But by Saturday night, I decided maybe I’m a 5 instead, The Investigator. (I need lots of time alone; I love gathering information—the internet is a dream come true; I’m happier texting on the phone rather than talking.)
Now what do I think? I’m still not sure which number I am.
But that’s okay. Ian and Suzanne said it can take awhile to figure out your number. The tests alone don’t determine it (actually they didn’t seem fond of the tests).
The point is: Keep learning, keep growing, and keep allowing God to lead the way.
5 Things I Learned at the Enneagram Conference
- What you don’t know can hurt you.
“What remains unconscious remains in control.” But the more we understand ourselves, the more we can cooperate with God in our transformation.
Discovering your Enneagram number can shorten the learning curve. Knowing yourself helps you better use your strengths, helps you monitor your reactions when you’re stressed, and helps you deal more positively with others.
- It’s about motivation, not just behavior.
Your personality number is determined more by what motivates you, not by how you behave. That’s why most online tests can be wrong as often as right—they don’t distinguish between motivation and behavior. You and I might perform the same action, but if I’m doing it out of pride and you’re doing it out of fear, we’re not coming from the same place, and thus may be different numbers. Keep digging to find your true number.
- We each are all nine numbers.
Taken as a whole, all nine numbers together give us a full-rounded view of God.
But individually, though we likely have some of each number in us, we click the most into one number. And we stay that same number for life, likely being set in it by the time we’re five years old.
- What you do with it counts.
This is important: We can’t change how we see the world.
But we can change what we do with what we see.
- Be kind to yourself.
Initially, we might not like what we discover about our number. Thinking of myself as either a 1 or a 5 doesn’t appeal to me. I see the negative traits in the profile and the negative traits in myself. And I don’t like those.
But it’s important to adopt a posture of lovingkindness to ourselves: “Healing and transformation can only happen in a climate of self-compassion.”
“Once you know your type you owe it to yourself and the people you love (or don’t love, for that matter) to become a kinder, more compassionate presence in the world.”
As John Calvin put it: “Without knowledge of self, there is no knowledge of God.” I wouldn’t phrase it that strongly, but I see some truth there.
As Ian and Suzanne told us, Christian voices throughout the centuries are united in this message for us—Wake up!
Waking up—becoming aware of who we are—helps us better know who God is, and knowing who God is helps us better know ourselves.
Regardless of our number.
* * *
- How to Love That Other Number on the Enneagram (All 9 Types)
- Want to learn more? Here’s a great primer on the Enneagram by Leigh Kramer.
Do you know your Enneagram number? Please share in the comments.
- Scared of the Dark…Or the Light?
- How to Love That Other Number on the Enneagram (All Nine Types)