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  • Writer's pictureIngrid H.

How to Get Shit Done - Part III - Enneagram

This is not just the Christian couple’s retreat personality test you might think it is. The Enneagram is based on several ancient wisdom traditions, does not actually contain any references to Christian beliefs, and is the juiciest fruit on the personality test tree, straight up packed with useful and actionable information about everyone’s favorite subject - ourselves!

“The Enneagram is a system of nine personality types combining traditional wisdom with modern psychology - a powerful tool for understanding ourselves and the people in our lives.
Enneagram work supplies the tools and knowledge to:
· Increase your personal and professional effectiveness
· Increase your self-awareness and emotional intelligence
· Understand your patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving
· Build successful relationships at home and at work
· Support your strengths, identify your blind spots and manage personal reactivity”

Like I said, it gets real juicy, and there are lots of moving parts to this one, so you can go as deep as you want (but again, be careful not to use this as a procrastination tool!)

"There are nine types:
Ones are perfectionists, with the passion of anger and the desire to be good.
Twos are givers, with the passion of pride and the desire to be needed.
Threes are performers, with the passion of deceit and the desire to feel valuable.
Fours are romantics, with the passion of envy and the desire to find themselves and their significance.
Fives are observers, with the passion of avarice and the desire to be capable and competent.
Sixes are questioners, with the passion of fear and the desire to have security and support.
Sevens are epicures, with the passion of gluttony and the desire to be cared for.
Eights are bosses, with the passion of lust and the desire to control their lives.
Nines are mediators, with the passion of sloth and the desire to avoid conflict."

- The Enneagram Journey Workbook

The whole point of this workbook is that we all need different things to be our best. The Enneagram helps us to understand the innate motivations we may have never named before, which underlie everything we do. Try not to get hung up on any connotations you may have about the passion assigned to your number. For example, for eights, the passion of lust does not refer to sexual lust. It is a passion for life and for intensity. Investigate more about yours to see how it shows up in your life.

The Enneagram can seem complicated. The following are the three main axes of the Enneagram that I find most helpful in determining the strategies we need to be our most successful (see quick reference cheat-sheets in the Cliff Notes section to easily find which one your number falls into):

· Stances – (aggressive, withdrawing, dependent) How you move through the world in relation to other people (towards, away from, against).

· Triads – (head, heart, gut) The 9 numbers are grouped based on their motivation (fear, shame, anger) and their dominant center of intelligence (thinking, feeling, doing).

· Repressed Centers – (doing, thinking, feeling) Conversely, your repressed center is the center of intelligence you use last in processing and reacting to the world.

I love the chart from Suzanne Stabile (find it in the Cliff Notes section) for a succinct explanation of the triads and stances. You may even be able to determine your number by finding which triad sounds like you and which stance most resonances – your number is where those two intersect.

Let’s talk about the centers of intelligence, which are doing, thinking, and feeling. We all have and use all three, however, we lean the most on one of the three, support that with a second, and tend to be weakest in the third. The goal is to bring all three into balance – thus we must be aware of how our dominant center takes over and learn how to use our repressed center more effectively.

  • With a repressed doing center, you may find yourself doing what you want to do or what feels good instead of what needs to be done.

  • With a repressed feeling center, you may be in action but may have failed to take your own or others’ feelings into account, causing trouble down the line.

  • With a repressed thinking center, you may tend to spend a lot of time thinking, but much of this thinking may be unproductive.

As a 4, my repressed center of intelligence is doing. This didn’t immediately resonate, as I feel like I’m always doing something and staying busy. The question is, am I keeping busy with the things that are most important?

I’ve come to understand what the process of moving through the three centers of intelligence looks like for me. Let’s say I need to decide whether to move to another city or stay where I am. I first think about how I would feel if I moved or if I stayed. Then I support that with thinking about the pros and cons of either decision. Finally, after going through these two steps, however long that takes, I am ready to take action (make a decision and act on it). Or, I may get stuck in the first two and fail to ever get into action.

When I trust this process, it works for me and I rarely regret my decisions. When I override it by rushing into a decision or putting more weight on what my head thinks rather than how a certain decision makes me feel, I miss the mark.

Can you identify how this cycle plays out for you?

“The interconnecting relationship intended for the three centers can be pictured as a small musical ensemble…One center plays too loud and too long, disrupting the harmony of our lives. One of the other two centers takes it cue from the lead player and learns to follow even the most subtle variation on the theme of our life Our final player, however, the third center of intelligence is ignored It can become disgruntled and abandons us. Because its purpose is unfamiliar to us it appears both useless and unimportant.”

– Kathleen Hurley and Theodore Donson

Just reading about your enneagram type will give you a lot of insight into yourself. Look at how your type behaves in times of stress and in more stable times. Pay attention to how you move in the world in relation to other people. Think about how you naturally make decisions and whether you are trusting this process or shutting it down because of how you think decisions should be made.

Triads and Stances by Number

Enneagram Triads and Stances

-Suzanne Stabile, The Enneagram Journey Workbook

Repressed Centers of Intelligence by Number:

Doing repressed: 4, 5, 9

Feeling repressed: 3, 7, 8

Thinking repressed: 4, 5, 9

Action Steps

a) Figure out your Enneagram number. The experts don’t recommend simply taking an online quiz. Read through the type descriptions. If one doesn’t immediately jump out at you, try this. (If you do take a quiz, don’t go blindly off the results you get. Always read the descriptions and check in with yourself to see if it resonates).

b) My Enneagram number: ________

c) My stance: ______________

d) My triad: ___________

e) My dominant center of intelligence: ___________

f) My repressed center of intelligence: ____________

Reflection Questions

  1. Biggest takeaways from reading the description of your type:

  2. What do you notice about how you show up in the world based on your stance?

  3. How does the motivation of your triad (fear, anger, or shame) show up for you?

  4. What comes up for you when reading about repressed centers? Can you see how you are _________repressed?


(There are LOTS of Enneagram resources out there, so feel free to explore! I learned from an apprentice of Suzanne Stabile and love her teachings, but I am hoping to do more workshops on this topic as I absolutely love it!)

Courses: Suzanne Stabile’s Workshop Recordings

Podcast: The Enneagram Journey, Suzanne Stabile’s

Book: The Path Between Us, Suzanne Stabile

Download the full free e-book, How to Trick Yourself Into Getting Shit Done here:

Check out the other posts in the series here:

How to Get Shit Done - Part IV - Starter or Finisher?

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