What Are Enneagram Wings? Your Invitation to Abundance {Enneagram Series #10}

Once you know your core Enneagram number, don’t stop there.

Also become familiar with its two adjacent numbers. One of those numbers is your Enneagram wing.

Deciding your wing number can really help the Enneagram system click into place, inviting you forward on a clearer and abundant path of spiritual growth.

Enneagram Wing

What Are Enneagram Wings?

Enneagram wings are simply the neighboring numbers on the circle. The wing options for a type 3 are either 2 or 4. For a type 9, the wings are either 8 or 1.

Enneagram names_no lines_tr

If you’re still struggling to decide your core number, looking at wings can help.

No one is solely one pure type. Your wing to the right or left of your number is also revelatory about your personality. It may complement it or it may complicate it, depending on circumstances.

For example, if you’re wavering between two adjacent numbers as your core number, such as 6 or 7, one of these may be your core number and the other may be your wing. Maybe you’re a type 6, wing 7 (written as 6w7) or a type 7, wing 6 (7w6).

Or if you have three numbers in succession that describe you, say 4, 5, and 6, your core number may be the one in the middle, type 5, with the other two numbers being potential wings.

What does your wing number mean?

The Enneagram Institute explains it like this:

“Your basic type dominates your overall personality, while the wing complements it and adds important, sometimes contradictory, elements to your total personality. Your wing is the “second side” of your personality, and it must be taken into consideration to better understand yourself or someone else.”

Wings help you understand your unique personality more specifically. They partially explain why your personality as a 4 looks different than your friend’s personality as a 4.

For example, I used to doubt that I could be a 5. 5s are typically defined as emotionally-reserved, yet I can cry under a minute at a sentimental commercial. But once I understood my 4 wing (4s get all the emotions), it made sense. I’m a 5w4.

Can you be two wings at the same time?

Depends on who you ask. Most experts say you only operate with one wing.

Some say you might depend on one wing in the first half of life, then switch to the other wing in the second half of life.

So while your core type does not change over the course of your life, your dominant wing might change.

You decide.

How do you know your wing?

First, know your core number. Then look at its two adjacent numbers. Read the descriptions. Do you relate more to one than the other?

Looking at your test results might also help. Of the two numbers adjacent to your core number, which score is the highest for you? This might be your dominant wing. It will not necessarily be ANY number that is second highest. Your dominant wing might be the relatively highest score of the two numbers adjacent to your core number.

But ultimately, you decide which best applies to you based on the descriptions.

In the next post, Series #11, you’ll see names for all the possibilities. The names may help you identify which wing is yours. For example, 3w2 is known as The Charmer whereas 3w4 is The Professional (Riso-Hudson Wing Subtype Names, Wisdom of the Enneagram, p 70).

Do you have to have a wing?

Most people usually have one dominant wing.

However, some say they are a pure type and have no wings. Perhaps so. Others may function equally between two wings.

Always remember: The Enneagram is theory, not science. It’s amazing how accurate it can be, but in the end, it is not 100% accurate for anybody.

Spiritual Practice #6—Accept the Invitation to Be Present with God

“There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.”
– Brother Lawrence

As we look closer at our own thoughts and motives to determine our wing, we don’t walk alone. God’s Spirit is always with us, always in us, prompting us to listen closer and be more aware of his presence within our own.

Training ourselves to become aware of his presence is a true spiritual discipline. If you  haven’t read the small classic The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, I encourage you to do so. Free e-copies are often available online or get a $0.99 Kindle version here. It’s one of my top 10 life-changing books.

Jesus doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us, contrary to this amusing cartoon.

Invitations to Abundance

To aid you in your awareness of Jesus’ presence, consider these invitations to abundance for each type, found in The Wisdom of the Enneagram. 

Don’t read just your own number; also read the two numbers beside your number. Does one resonate more with you than the other?

Invitation to 1—Perfectionist. “To live for a higher purpose.
Remember that it is your true nature to be wise and discerning.”

Invitation to 2—Helper. “To nurture yourself and others.
Remember that it is your true nature to be good to yourself and to have goodwill and compassion for others.”

Invitation to 3—Performer. “To develop yourself and set an example for others.
Remember that it is your true nature to take pleasure in your existence and to esteem and value others.”

Invitation to 4—Individualist. “To let go of the past and be renewed by your experiences.
Remember that it is your nature to be forgiving and to use everything in life for your growth and renewal.”

Invitation to 5—Investigator. “To observe yourself and others without judgment or expectations.
Remember that it is your true nature to be engaged with reality, contemplating the infinite riches of the world.”

Invitation to 6—Loyalist. “To have faith in yourself and trust in the goodness of life.
Remember that it is your true nature to be courageous and capable of dealing with life under all conditions.”

Invitation to 7—Enthusiast. “To joyously celebrate existence and share your happiness.
Remember that it is your true nature to be happy and to add to the richness of experience for everyone.”

Invitation to 8—Challenger. “To stand up for yourself and to speak out for what you believe.
Remember that it is your true nature to be strong and capable of affecting the world in many different positive ways.”

Invitation to 9—Peacemaker. “To bring peace and healing into your world.
Remember that it is your true nature to be an inexhaustible font of serenity, acceptance, and kindness in the world.”

Do you know your Enneagram wing? Was it easy or hard to decide? Please share in the comments.

See the whole Enneagram series here

Enneagram for Spiritual Growth

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Previous: A Hidden Gift in Each Enneagram Number {Series #9}

Next: What Is My Enneagram Wing? Extra Names for Subtypes {Series #11} 

12 thoughts on “What Are Enneagram Wings? Your Invitation to Abundance {Enneagram Series #10}

  1. Laurie

    Your Enneagram series has really made me take a good hard look at myself, Lisa. In a good way! I took an Enneagram test a few years ago and came up with the #3. When I just took it a few weeks ago, my result was #7. Looking at the wings, I believe I am more comfortable with #7.

    Loved the “Hide and Seek” cartoon! 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      My husband Jeff is a 7 as well (I think) and I can see similar traits in you, both your love for adventure and your positive outlook on life in general. As a 5, I need Jeff’s 7 side to loosen me up. 🙂

  2. Anita Ojeda

    I love this, Lisa! I need to pull out my test results and figure out my wing :). I love how God speaks to all of us, with all of our personality combinations and complications—he offers rest in him.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      And yes, this is the bottom line: “he offers rest in him.” Thanks for sharing that, Anita! Sometimes I forget about the “rest” part but it’s his gift to me that I want and need to receive.

  3. Martha J Orlando

    Lisa, if I’m a 2, which I’m pretty sure I am, then my wing is 3. This is such an amazing journey you’re taking us on, and I’m learning so much about myself that I’d never really thought about.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad you’re learning things too, Martha! I am as well. Writing the series has made me go back through a lot of books and things I’ve read previously so I can understand it better myself to share with others.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think that’s exactly what my older sister is, too, Lesley: a 6w5. No wonder I feel like I know you. 🙂 My sister and I have a lot in common. I am either a 5w4 or a 5w6 so we should have a lot in common too.

  4. Martha Brady

    lisa, i have heard about the wings b/f and wondered how to figure them out. i definitely don’t fit the classic peacemaker/9. but i still think that fits many of my underlying decisions of my life that only i knew about. often i seemed rather feisty…and i am. i think i have a 1 wing that tends to feed that voice in my head, telling me I’m never good enough for whatever the challenge is. learning about who i am in Christ has helped me talk back to that voice over the years and tell it to be quiet b/c Christ will give me the ability to do what He calls me to do…even if it isn’t perfect. i also think that after years of GOD’s working on me, i have mellowed quite a bit and can see bits of all the numbers active in my life.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I love that you are able to tell that voice in your head that it’s not speaking God’s truth to you. I am slowly but surely learning to do that as well when I have anxious thoughts (I tend toward both worry and perfectionism). Your analysis is beautiful: Christ will give us the ability to do what he calls us to do. Amen! Thanks, Martha.

  5. Elena Wiggins

    You explained wings so well, Lisa! I was unsure of mine until reading your description and know I believe I’m a 9w1. I have a lot of 6 in me when anxious, so I struggled with whether I am a 9 or 6 until recently. I now think the 6 in me is the 9 in an unhealthy state. The enneagram is so fascinating!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad you’re enjoying learning more about the Enneagram too, Elena! It’s quite fascinating to me how many of the things it gets right. Not everything of course, but enough for it to be a useful tool.

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