I’m going to periodically be doing a new blog series where I will interview someone about their experiences with the Enneagram. The goal is to help paint a picture about what it is like to be each number. My hope is that it will help you understand yourself and the people you love and work with just a little bit better.
How did you get introduced to the Enneagram?
I was actually forced into the Enneagram. As part of the ordination process in the United Methodist Church I was required to go to an eight-hour training with a lady I had never heard of (Suzanne Stabile), to learn about something I had never heard of (the Enneagram). I reluctantly went with my laptop, assuming I would work through the training. Instead I was immediately captivated by her storytelling and fascinated by the typologies.
What is it like being a 9?
Well, that depends. With 9’s they talk about the law of inertia. Once I get going, I often don’t stop. However, once I stop it takes a great force to get me going again. Often making what seems like a simple decision can be overwhelming for me. My mind is constantly weighing the costs, the benefits, all possible outcomes – and that is just where we want to go to dinner. I struggle to know if people value me, my work, my presence. Rather than prove myself, I typically will avoid people or withdraw from situation. I suppose that is another way I subconsciously avoid conflict.
Can you share a personal story of your number in action?
As a 9 I am an avid procrastinator. I struggle to focus on what needs to be done, especially if I’m not very interested or bought into it. I have far too many examples of this as a pastor. Anytime I preach or teach I will research the topic until the 11th hour because I am deeply fascinated by the topic, but struggle to pick what is most important to say about it. Thus, I wait until the very last minute to finalize what I am preaching/teaching, which causes way more stress than is necessary and leaves absolutely no room for margin or emergency.
How has the Enneagram helped you in the process of personal or spiritual growth?
Awareness has been the most helpful. As the saying goes, it is hard for a fish to critique water. Before I understood the Enneagram, I was aware of certain tendencies, but not aware of my motivations (or lack thereof). My understanding of the Enneagram has also helped me to realize I have to be intentional about not doing all the time. I have to schedule in times to stop, think, process, and allow my mind, emotions, and body to be aware of what is actually taking place. If I’m not intentional in checking in on myself, I will go on and on doing one thing or the next (often not what needs to be done).
How has the Enneagram impacted your relationships (e.g., spouse, kids, etc.)?
It has definitely helped my relationship with my spouse. More than anything it has given us common language to speak about our thoughts and our emotions. It has helped us be more supportive of one another and more attentive to the needs of the other. I would say it has helped us have more compassion for one another. The Enneagram has helped me be a better parent, primarily because I am healthy and more aware of what I need to be healthy. Also, I used to be terrified of my anger, so I would suppress it until I blew up. At one point I was yelling at my kids and thought, “I don’t want to be yelling, I’m not really a yeller, nor is this helping anything.” Without the Enneagram, and my meditation practice, I don’t think I would have been able to recognize that. I am not ashamed of my anger, there are times it has been a friend to me, but through my work with the Enneagram and spiritual practices I have a better understanding and control of that anger.