Productivity strategies based on your Enneagram personality type
November 10, 2021
The road to productivity isn’t easy. Difficulties may arise from poor external management or internal problems. The Enneagram – a personality typing system – can help people understand themselves and others, recognize strengths, patterns, and challenges. As a result, it leads to practical changes in business routines, careers and productivity strategies. The process of examining your own motives and increasing your self-awareness can also be valuable itself.
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Enneagram – what is it?
The word Enneagram comes from the combination of the Greek “ennea” (meaning “nine”) and “gram” (meaning “something written” or “drawing”, used to form words like “diagram”, “pentagram”) – which indicates that this knowledge can be represented in a diagram.
The origin of the Enneagram is not entirely clear; perhaps it comes from the Sufi tradition, according to the Bolivian philosopher Oscar Ichazo. He also modernized it in the 1960s and introduced it to Western civilization. Since the 1970s, the Enneagram has become popular in American psychology and has grown in popularity worldwide.
Today, the Enneagram is used by therapists and social workers, as well as by companies in their productivity strategies. It contains a lot of valuable information about the human character. It serves to maximize strengths, remedy weaknesses and improve cooperation between people with different personalities.
Enneagram personality types
The Enneagram is based on the premise that there are nine types of people. Each type has strengths and weaknesses built on a worldview that motivates and inspires them but can also limit them. The visual representation of the Enneagram takes the shape of a circle, so you can see that each type has two adjacent types, called wings, which more or less influence that type.
Chelsea Forbrook, an Enneagram certified Minneapolis coach, says: “It doesn’t just put you in a box and leave you there. It shows you the box you’re already in so that you can get out of it. It introduces choice and freedom to let go of the things that are no longer serving us.”
However, the Enneagram is not as evident and understandable as other personality type indicators, such as Myers-Briggs (MBTI). In particular, how the nine kinds interact with each other may be difficult to understand. However, where other systems may be superficial or confined to one sphere of life, the Enneagram is holistic and insightful.
The Enneagram can be divided into 3 Triads and the 9 personality types are grouped in the triads according to different emotional behavior. It is worth noting that although the same emotion dominates in the types from one triad, they express it in different ways.
- Gut Triad: 8-9-1 – located at the top of the Enneagram. It is the Center of the Instinct of the Enneagram Triads. The dominant emotions in this group is anger that Type 8 expresses outwardly, Type 9 contradicts it, and Type 1 – suppresses and controls it.
- Heart Triad: 2-3-4 – is the Center of Feelings. The dominant emotion of this group is shame that Types 2 and 3 try to control, and Type 3 contradicts it.
- Head Triad: 5-6-7 – is considered the Thinking Center. The dominant emotion of this triad is fear. Type 5 expresses the fear, Type 6 looks for security to the outside world, and Type 7 turns away from it.
Each number of the Enneagram is bordered by two others – these are its wings. In short, the wing represents that part of the personality that works in harmony with that type. Some may be dominated by one wing, while others have equal effects from both wings.
Since there are wings on both sides of each class, most people have a wing in a triad other than their own. Only 9, 3, and 6 will have branches at the centers of their triads. The other six types have a 50% chance of having a wing in a different center. Thus, apart from the 9 main types, it distinguishes 18 more subtypes:
There are two types of arrows that branch from the given type of Enneagram and represent the likelihood of being in a growth/relaxation situation and under stress:
- GROWTH Direction – represents the behaviors you express when you experience growth. The sequences are 1-7-5-8-2-4-1 and 9-3-6-9. So if you are a Type 1, your Direction of Growth is 7. During times of growth, you will likely act like a healthy 7.
- STRESS Direction – represents the way you behave under stress. The sequences are 1-4-2-8-5-7-1 and 9-6-3-9. If you are 1, your Direction of Stress is 4. Under stress, you can act like the unhealthy type 4.
9 Enneagram personality types
After putting together all the elements of the Enneagram wheel – Types, Triads, and Arrows – we can visualize the complete picture of the Enneagram. Based on it, any person knowing their type can easily see what emotions drive them and what directions they go depending on the situation in their life. Don’t know which type you are yet? Read about each Enneagram personality type below and find out.
Type 1: Reformer / Perfectionist / Idealist
I’m good because I do things right
There is one right view, and it’s mine
Type 1 sees the world in terms of good and bad. Some want people and the system around them to be consistent with their own values, which they constantly uphold. They are inspiring and work tirelessly to improve themselves and the world and make great sacrifices for a higher cause. However, they feel frustrated when others do not meet their high standards. Their internal critic constantly points out how they and others could do better.
Strengths: principled, purposeful, hard-working, practical, meticulous, disciplined, honest, with high morale.
Weaknesses: overconfident, black and white thinker, overworkers (may lead to burnout), procrastinators under pressure of perfectionism, fear of losing integrity.
Productivity strategy: they should decide where to direct their perfectionism and where “good enough” is truly good enough. They need relaxation and learn to ask for help.
Type 2: Helper / Giver / Mentor
I am good because I am needed
The other person is a challenge for me – I have to make him like me
Type 2 is a good associate. At the same time, they are empathetic and supportive, and in return, they want to feel loved and appreciated for their efforts. And when they don’t, it can question their self-esteem. In situations of uncertainty or danger, they may desperately try to “produce” it by serving others in the hope of receiving support. Twos grow as they learn that admitting and expressing their own needs doesn’t make them selfish.
Strengths: generous, demonstrative, empathetic, willing to help, able to create a culture of caring and bonding.
Weaknesses: possessive, feeling unnoticed and unworthy of love or care, having excessive need to please others, unable to express one’s own needs.
Productivity strategy: they can do more by doing less. They should say ‘no’ more often and take their needs as seriously as the needs of others.
Type 3: Achiever / Performer / Motivator
I am good because I am successful
I am worth what my achievements are worth
Type 3 are productivity champions – they get things done and make it look easy. Threes intuitively adapt to a variety of environments. They want to be helpful, admired and impress others. They also have endurance, finesse, and work ethic. However, they can be so focused on achieving success that they lose sight of what they really want. Threes grow as they learn to appreciate wisdom and value in their feelings, themselves, and others.
Strengths: flexible, excellent, hard-working, practical, motivated, goal-oriented, encouraging and mentoring, charming.
Weaknesses: making their value and importance dependent on success, too emotional, full of doubts, prone to burnout.
Productivity strategy: they have to slow down and understand what they want, not what others want. And ask themselves, “What would I like to do if no one found out about my achievements?”
Type 4: Individualist / Romantic / Original
I am good because I am unique
I am different from everyone else; I feel more and suffer more
Type 4 sees their life as a work of art – it should be beautiful and original. Fours seek the truth not on the surface but within the depths of human experience. They are creative, artistic, and convinced of a romantic, idealized version of their lives. When reality doesn’t live up to it, it can result in depression and withdrawal. Fours can grow as they strive for action (also on complex topics) and do not hold back from expressing themselves and find joy in everyday activities.
Strengths: expressive, unique, sensitive, self-aware, possess a sense of aesthetics, visionaries.
Weaknesses: self-absorption, temperamental feeling of inferiority and being worthless by “ordinary” tasks, feeling of delaying one’s actions by entering their inner world, jealousy for the success of others.
Productivity strategy: they should know that not everything has to be unique to be meaningful; each task can be worthy and beautiful when carried out based on their own original idea or with a more significant cause in mind.
Type 5: Investigator / Observer / Thinker
I am good because I know the truth
I watch the world from a safe distance
Type 5 is the most cerebral type of the Enneagram. They want to know the truth, and they do so by studying passionately. Fives may ignore their own and others’ feelings, but they do so in the name of the idea that no one owns the truth. They feel best in a tidy and lonely world of ideas and facts, uncomplicated by messy emotions and pressing demands. Spending time with people for a long time can exhaust them. Fives thrive when they no longer feel threatened by real emotions. They learn that their discomfort comes from fear of making mistakes or exposing incompetence.
Strengths: perceptive, innovative, hard-working, excellent researcher, curious about the world, outstanding in objective analysis.
Weaknesses: secretiveness, isolation, underestimating the opinions of others, difficulties in making decisions, fear of being accused of incompetence or helplessness.
Productivity strategy: before diving into research, they should get in touch with their feelings (e.g. by taking a walk); they can be of great help in a team, but need to get out of their head to acknowledge that understanding people, their feelings and relationships are as important as understanding the facts.
Type 6: Loyalist / Skeptic / Trooper
I’m good because I’m safe
I must be vigilant because evil does not sleep
Type 6 uses its mental energy to gain security and to inquire about what might disturb or take away it. Sixes spot problems before they even appear. Safety is ensured by good interpersonal relations and predictability in meeting their needs. It happens that they have tense relations with the authorities that they choose as their defenders and are disappointed when they do not live up to their expectations. When Sixes accept that they cannot control everything, they will achieve peace and quiet their minds. And when they trust themselves, they can become leaders and set an example of courage in the face of adversity.
Strengths: engaging, responsible, supportive, loyal, building community and support, perfectly solves problems, synthesizes information, sense of humor.
Weaknesses: restless, suspicious, unsure of himself, looking for dangers, a sense of lack of direction and support; in anxiety and doubt, they can become pessimistic, procrastinating and delegating.
Productivity strategy: calming routines and introducing work boundaries, starting the day with a list of activities and ending it with a list of achievements, quieting your mind by meditating and concentrating on exercise.
Type 7: Enthusiast / Epicure / Visionary
I am good because I am joyful
Life is a constant adventure
Type 7 builds its existence by experiencing the joy and excitement of life. Sevens are fun and exciting, but when it gets boring, they quickly changes plans. They loves meeting new people and trying new things. Jumping from one to the other can result in superficiality. Their constant activity can be a way to avoid anxiety, pain and sadness. The chance for them is to be fully present in the joy they create, which will mean slowing down enough to face the demanding and down-to-earth aspects of life.
Strengths: spontaneous, versatile, active, creative, motivated, positive energy, optimism, curiosity about the world, willingness to learn new things.
Weaknesses: greedy, distracted, over-excited, problem with completing tasks, breaking promises, rejecting negative emotions or reality and the people who express them.
Productivity strategy: promising less, delivering slower (no one will be worried) to finish what they start; creating designs without distractions; Avoiding boredom and sadness does not mean that she will miss out on exciting life experiences.
Type 8: Challenger / Boss / Protector
I am good because I am in control
It has to be what I want, and if not, what will you do to me?
Type 8 are warriors and see themselves as commanders and defenders. In their sense, they carry the power to protect others, but also out of the belief that they are self-righteous. Eights are dominant and action-oriented. They can be contemptuous when someone disagrees with them and vindictive when they feel betrayed. Their behavior can be a cover for uncertainty. Eights will grow as they learn to distinguish between a real threat and a threat to their own ego. Then they can honestly use their heroic efforts in the service of others and not in the service of their own image.
Strengths: confident, determined, tough, determined, directness, high productivity. Weaknesses: willful, authoritarian, persuasive, confrontational, overbearing, impatient, self-righteous, impulsive.
Productivity strategy: indicating that your little battles can be played diplomatically, not by force; noticing the strengths of others that are worth relying on when delegating responsibility; recognizing the power of being a good listener and building that skill.
Type 9: Peacemaker / Harmonizer / Mediator
I am good because I am peaceful
What am I actually doing here
Type 9 needs harmony and is safe when its actions, thoughts, and relationships are in harmony with each other. Nines feel bad in a chaotic world full of conflicts. Can create safe spaces for open dialogue and reconcile different points of view, understanding the need for reconciliation between people and ideas. To avoid misunderstandings and be conciliatory, they often sacrifice their desires and needs, which causes them a growing resentment. When Nines learn to discover their own deep-seated skills and take decisive action, can inspire others to build consensus and combine different visions to pursue a common goal.
Strengths: open, reassuring, calm, open-minded, patient, excellent mediator.
Weaknesses: succumbing to influences and opinions, lack of resistance to conflicts, procrastination, inability to comprehend the whole.
Productivity strategy: considering his own problem and what is the issue of others, not suppressing his own beliefs and anger; leading to the realization of your true opinion/value; motivating to action.
Above, we’ve outlined the idea of the Enneagram personality types in as much detail as we could in one article. If you want to explore this topic more or still haven’t discovered your type, we encourage you to check out these popular Enneagram books:
- Beatrice Chestnut, The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge
- Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types
- Helen Palmer, The Enneagram in Love and Work: Understanding Your Intimate and Business Relationships
As Chelsea Forbrook, President of the Minnesota Chapter of the International Enneagram Association, says, “It shows us things that we previously had not seen about ourselves. It shows us our gifts and our beautiful essence and our virtues. But to get to those things we have to slog through the shadow. People wanting to get into the Enneagram have to be willing to get uncomfortable.”
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