Enneagram: Berghoef & Bell Innovations

Leadership. Communication. Teamwork.


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Bringing the Enneagram to Teens

Having learned the Enneagram at a young age, bringing the Enneagram to more young people remains a topic close to our hearts. For teenagers, the Enneagram opens a door to improving relationships with parents and friends, and feeling seen for who you are–a person with thoughts, feelings, and needs independent from those around you. It gives a language to describe your viewpoint to the people who matter to you, and helps in making decisions about the direction you want your life to take.

When we were teenagers discovering the Enneagram, wonderful books existed about this system–Melanie has fond memories of holing up in the college library, browsing the “Enneagram corner”–but none of them focused on people our age. The vast majority of our peers were not familiar with the Enneagram, leaving us largely to teach it to them.

Elizabeth Wagele’s latest book, The Enneagram for Teens, has the potential to change this. Wagele previously wrote an Enneagram book aimed at children, but as far as we know, this is the first book exclusively oriented to a teenaged audience. In this fun and clearly-written read, Wagele writes in an engaging manner that teens are sure to enjoy. Wagele’s cartoons, both illustrative of the types and entertaining, grace most of the pages of her book. Wagele dedicates a chapter to each of the nine types, and a final chapter depicts each type’s leadership style. Wagele describes each type in a way that is easy to grasp, with examples most relatable to high school and college-aged readers.

Wagele excels at creating material that connects with the target audience. Each type chapter offers a quiz made of statements that come directly from teenagers–a refreshingly clear and direct approach. (You might be a Six if you “want to be safe and to be told the truth.”) Wagele also offers practical goals for self-development tailored to teens of each type.

The heart and soul of Wagele’s book comes from the primary source material. In each chapter, she interviews several people from each Enneagram type, both teens and young adults looking back on their experience. The subjects Wagele interviews provide a diverse cross-section of perspectives. Some, such as a type One rebel, do a welcome job of defying personality stereotypes, while others give a well-rounded sense of each Enneagram type’s strengths and challenges. Especially affecting is one Three exemplar’s memory of telling the principal her team had lost a tournament as she received her diploma–“That’s all I ever think about when I think about high school graduation.” It should be easy for readers to hear their own experiences mirrored in the young voices in the book.

We believe The Enneagram for Teens is a wonderful resource for teenagers and college students first learning about the Enneagram, as well as parents hoping to get into the shoes of their teens. Our own experiences of encountering the Enneagram young were pivotal: for example, Kacie finally understood her parents’ perspectives and why they were different from her own, and Melanie learned strategies to manage her emotions. Wagele’s book has great potential to more widely engage young people in learning the Enneagram. We hope this book will help young Enneagram enthusiasts connect with each other!


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The Enneagram and Young Adults

P1020354When we first began attending Enneagram conferences, we were surprised to discover that young adults studying the Enneagram were almost as rare as unicorns! We’d love for that to change, and hope to bring more young people into the community. We were both lucky to discover the Enneagram at a young age, and it offered a level of support that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. It was like having a secret key to unlocking our strengths and understanding other people.

Young people face a lot of challenges. At that age, so many of us feel misunderstood and like we don’t fit in. We get into conflict with our parents. We struggle to find our footing as we first strike out on our own. The Enneagram can be useful in all of these situations.

Young people offer a fresh perspective to Enneagram work. They bring a wonderful openness to learning (as long as it’s interesting!). They’re in a great place to start observing themselves and noticing what their usual patterns are, laying a foundation for a self-aware life. Given the ever-shifting nature of the young adult years, they’re also in a place where they want to make change.

Here are some tips for teaching the Enneagram to young people:

  • Contextualize the Enneagram to the person’s age group. For example, if they’re in college, show them how the Enneagram can help them choose a major and make empowering career decisions.
  • Introduce the idea of observing yourself and being aware of your patterns in an approachable, relatable way. Give concrete examples of how this can be helpful in your audience’s daily life.
  • Break the material up with interactive exercises, and give everyone a chance to speak.
  • Remember when working with younger people that the brain is still developing until about age 25, which may impact how they learn and apply the material.
  • Make it fun! 🙂

We’d like to see more people get the opportunity to learn the Enneagram at a young age, and are excited to be part of this movement!