When we talk about personal growth work and transformation using the Enneagram, a lot of our focus is on (1) “catching ourselves” when we are acting out of our particular type, and (2) letting go of our initial tendency and choosing a course of action that is in our best interests. But I think it’s also worth considering a more basic way that knowing our Enneagram number can help us live a fulfilled life.
Each Enneagram number has a core motivation. You might think of this as a “driving force” that pushes each number in a particular direction. If we can understand the core motivation of our Enneagram number, it can help us design our life in a certain way where we can satisfy that core motivation (at least to a certain extent).
The Example of a 6
I’ll give you an example from my own life. I’m a 6, the Loyalist, and my core motivation is safety and security. One example of how this motivation plays out is I tend to deal with life a lot better if I have enough money in my bank account. I like having a “buffer.” Everyone is probably like this to a certain extent, but I have noticed it matters more to me as a 6 than it does for others.
Now, this can go overboard. I can take this motivation for safety and security too far. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have enough money in my bank account when I really do. So, I have to check myself. But it’s important to know that I won’t do well in life if I don’t have at least some margin.
Core Motivations for Each Type
Here are the core motivations for each Enneagram type:
Type 1 (The Perfectionist): being right, correct, and orderly.
Type 2 (The Helper): helping and meeting the needs of others.
Type 3 (The Achiever): success, achievement, and getting things accomplished.
Type 4 (The Individualist): being unique and authentic.
Type 5 (The Observer): thinking, observing, and guarding their energy and involvement.
Type 6 (The Loyalist): safety and security.
Type 7 (The Enthusiast): fun, spontaneity, and experiencing life to the full.
Type 8 (The Challenger): strength and autonomy.
Type 9 (The Peacemaker): understanding the perspectives of others and avoiding conflict.
What has been your experience? Can you connect with the core motivations of your Enneagram type?