Enneagram: Berghoef & Bell Innovations

Leadership. Communication. Teamwork.


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Engaging All Three of Your Enneagram Centers

img_1905When most of us first learn the Enneagram, we discover that there are three Centers of Intelligence: the Gut Center, Heart Center, and Head Center. All of these centers contain powerful gifts, and it’s important to balance all three for us to remain present in our daily lives. Without doing personal growth work, our centers tend to be out of balance. Similarly to how we use our Instinctual preferences, we typically overdo certain centers while neglecting other ones. These priorities show up in predictable, type-specific patterns.

Here are the centers that tend to be weak or underused in each of the types:

Types Four, Five, and Nine: The Gut Center is underused

These three types, which comprise the withdrawn social style, may often seem like they have their “head in the clouds,” focusing on daydreams, intellectual ideas, or the world of emotions. However, they tend to be ungrounded, and it can be difficult for them to take action and get things done in the physical world.

Types Three, Seven, and Eight: The Heart Center is underused

These types form the assertive social style, and they tend to be people who initiate new projects, get things done, and assert themselves with confidence. But, they have a difficult time slowing down, and getting in touch with their own personal emotions, desires, and thinking before they act.

Types One, Two, and Six: The Head Center is underused

These types come together to become the compliant social style, and they tend to be service-oriented, dutiful, and responsible individuals. Although many people of this style are highly intelligent, they often follow established rules or do what they feel is expected or needed instead of coming up with their own rules.

The Enneagram Institute believes that, much like the Instincts, we can’t stop “doing” our preferred centers, but we can make a conscious effort to actively practice our underused center. By doing this, we’ll automatically use our preferred centers less frequently, allowing us to be more in balance.

Here are some suggestions for balancing your centers:

Types Four, Five, and Nine: Get Moving

Get out of your fantasies, thoughts, and daydreams, and start getting things done in the “real world.” Your body is a powerful instrument, and consciously grounded action will show you its strength and power. Simple ways to get grounded include deep, embodied breathing, doing an exercise routine that challenges you, or simply feeling the soles of your feet touch the ground. When engaging in the physical realm, make sure you’re truly grounded, and not simply “puttering around” or mindlessly running errands. True groundedness requires immediacy and stability with the earth beneath your feet.

Types Three, Seven, and Eight: Unplug

Stop making decisions, taking immediate action, and moving around, and take yourself on a journey to the inside. Connecting with your heart will give you deep intimacy with yourself and reconnect you to your own desires. Taking even a few minutes to pause every day, write in a journal, or share your feelings with someone you trust will help you feel connected to the world around you. This requires true unplugging: no looking at your e-mails or taking “important” phone calls! Really getting in touch with your heart involves slowing down enough to feel the raw emotional weight of what’s happening in your chest.

Types One, Two, and Six: Explore Curiously

Instead of sticking to a mindset of service, take some time to think about what it is you really value and want. Connecting with the mind will help you know yourself and gain clarity about what’s important to you in the world. Think about what interests you, what you want to know about in the world, and engage in research and exploration with no end agenda. This kind of curiosity requires a clear, quiet mind: meditation and mindfulness practices will help dissolve the mental clutter. Really knowing yourself and finding direction requires a clear head to radically accept reality exactly as it is.

Doing these practices will be unfamiliar and even scary at first, but as you get into a routine, you’ll feel better and more confidently engaged in life.


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Using the Instincts as an Accelerator for Growth

photo-mar-30-11-39-08-amThe Enneagram’s three Instincts describe unconscious drives that shape our behavior. Knowing about them is helpful for many reasons, from maintaining healthy relationships to getting your needs met in the workplace. Most importantly, working on the Instincts, even more than working on our type, can act as an accelerator for personal growth.

All of us have three Instincts – Self-Preservation, Sexual, and Social. The Instincts influence how we interact with the world to get our unconscious needs met. We all have a preferred order in which we use the Instincts, called an Instinctual Stacking; we have one Instinct we obsess over and tend to overuse (our Dominant Instinct), one secondary Instinct, and a tertiary Instinct we tend to underuse (our Blind Spot Instinct). When we bring our Instincts closer into balance, our lives follow suit.

“Great,” you might be thinking, “I’ll just stop obsessing over my Dominant Instinct.” That’s a challenging proposition, though, because our Instincts operate unconsciously. We tend to rely on our Dominant, assuming it will provide the solution to our problems. What works better is to work with our Blind Spot Instinct. It’s scary to work on the Blind Spot, because we feel inexperienced and incompetent in that area. However, it’s a game changer. By consciously focusing on Blind Spot activities we normally neglect, we develop new strategies and resources. Our lives become fuller as we realize that our potential is much broader than we’d imagined.    

Below, we describe how each Instinct works as a Blind Spot, and offer growth practices for bringing that Instinct into balance. We also share composite case studies of students we’ve worked with and strategies they’ve found to cultivate the Blind Spot Instinct’s strengths within.

The Self-Preservation Instinct: If the Self-Preservation Instinct is your blind spot, you probably have difficulty focusing on the day-to-day practicalities of life. You may not have a strong inclination toward activities such as establishing a home, taking care of your diet, or saving for retirement. You may frequently feel immature and like you need others to support you through even basic tasks. To balance this Blind Spot, take the time to explore and write down ways you neglect your comfort, well-being, and health, and make time to do one thing every day focused on maintaining your stability. Try to do this independently, without the help of other people!

Consider the case of Becky, who’s 50 and recently divorced. She had relied on her husband to manage household tasks and organization. Now on her own, she’s nervous about being self-reliant, and admits that she feels like “a kid rather than a grown-up.” She’s let her new apartment become cluttered and chaotic. With the help of a group of Enneagram brainstormers, she recognizes that she finds upbeat music to be a good motivator. She decides to set a weekly date for a solo “cleanup party” with rock music in the background. She feels more confident with her favorite songs on, and her cleaning parties become a fun, productive ritual.  

The Sexual Instinct: If the Sexual Instinct is your blind spot, you probably have a difficult time doing things that stimulate and energize you. You may tend to put off doing activities that are exciting to you, displaying your strengths to others, and pursuing your “selfish, impractical” passions. You may frequently feel like you’re stuck in a rut and caught in a boring, humdrum routine that you are unable to get out of. To balance this Blind Spot, take some time to explore and write down what things fuel and inspire you. Make time to do one thing every day that brings the energy back into your life and makes you feel your vibrant and colorful self.

DeMarcus is a 35-year-old accountant who has worked hard to establish a secure career and provide for his young family. Between working long hours, contributing to household chores, and caring for his toddler, DeMarcus feels tired and listless. His Enneagram group suggests reconnecting with an activity that inspires and energizes him. As a student, DeMarcus had enjoyed painting with splashy, colorful acrylics, but he’s let his hobby fall by the wayside in his efforts to be responsible. He decides to fit weekly “painting dates” into his schedule. He begins involving his wife and daughter, and their home is filled with new creativity.  

The Social Instinct: If the Social Instinct is your blind spot, you probably have a difficult time interacting with the world around you. You may tend to put off activities that involve connecting with others, participating in communities, and having fun for its own sake. You may frequently feel like you’re overly serious and can’t talk to others unless you need something from them. To balance this Blind Spot, take some time to write down ways you’d like to contribute to the world around you and support other people. Make time to have a fun interaction with no agenda every day or to do something that makes you feel part of the larger social fabric.

Sonia considered herself an introvert, but the truth went beyond that label. While the 43-year-old freelance writer had a job and home she was comfortable with, she also had a very narrow social circle. She described herself as “not knowing how to make small talk.” Her Enneagram group suggested she connect with other writers, so Sonia found a group that looked interesting. She started reading the books they talked about, and had fun discussing them with like-minded, intelligent peers. Soon she was getting invited to events and meeting more people. Her life was infused with a new sense of fun and freedom.

We all have an Instinctual Blind Spot, and moving toward rather than away from it can bring us a renewed sense of balance. What small, regular strategies can you apply to bring your Blind Spot Instinct’s joys and gifts into your life?


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Productivity Tips for the Enneagram Types

IMG_1995In this fast-paced world, productivity is an important skill to master. There is a lot to get done, and the more effectively we can do it, the closer we come to achieving our goals. Productivity skills can also support us in leading a more balanced life, working when we need to work and building in ample time for play and rest.

Let’s look beyond goal setting this month and into building greater productivity through life management skills. Here are some tips for each Enneagram type to hone their productivity that delve a little deeper than “just get it done.”

Type One: Aim for 90%. When stressed, you hold yourself to a higher standard than you need to, and beginning your work can seem arduous. Aiming for 90% in your work is a realistic – in fact a high – bar, and leaves you energy for necessary rest. Make this your new standard and you’ll find that tasks get accomplished more quickly.

Type Two: Limit your “people time” until you’ve accomplished goals. Under stress, you tend to get sidetracked from tasks by attending to relationships. Give yourself built-in structures such as time-limited meetings with others, or deadlines to accomplish non-interpersonal tasks. You’ll find plenty of time for relationship building if you stick to your schedule, and you’ll stay on top of the curve.

Type Three: Build thoroughness of process into your task completion. When stressed, you have a tendency to cut corners and focus on presenting a shiny facade. Instead, look to the minutiae of your work that not everyone will see. Getting everything done right, with plentiful attention to the details, will ensure your work is outstanding and you don’t have to mend any oversights.  

Type Four: Make commitments. When stressed, you lose focus on objective goals as the subjective world looms larger. Commit to specific outcomes in spite of fluctuating feelings, and keep yourself on track with reminders. Build time for subjective processing into your schedule, such as journaling before work every day, so you’ll have more clarity to meet your objectives.   

Type Five: Seek out new possibilities. When stressed, you become more narrowly focused, and may be productive in one area while neglecting others. Connect with colleagues and share what you’re each working on. Take on a project that deviates from your norm. Seeking out breadth in experiences will bring out the most productive side of your innovative thinking.

Type Six: Seek out support for achievements. When you’re under stress, you sometimes procrastinate by doing busywork while putting off necessary milestones. Use your relational skills to create mutual accountability with a friend, colleague, or group. Each of you can regularly remind the others of the tasks you need to get done, or you can work together on them.   

Type Seven: Create a limited time and space for new ideas. When stressed, you look toward future possibilities and don’t always finish present ones. You can mitigate this by having a set daily time (such as 20 minutes) and place (such as a notebook) for the new. When you have an inspiration for a new project, add it to your brainstorming book, set it aside for later, and refocus.

Type Eight: Block out time for reflection and strategy. It’s not a problem for you to act, but under stress, you can put the cart before the horse. Having time laid out to look at which long-range strategies are best for your goals will save you from making hasty, and potentially costly, choices. It may help to seek and consider input from others before you make decisions, as well.

Type Nine: Use affirmations to help with your confidence and productivity. When stressed, you tend to give yourself “dis-affirmations” – believing you aren’t ready, doubting whether this is something you really want to do, and so on. Countering with assertive mental words or pictures – “I can get it done,” “I’m committed to it” – will energize you toward your goals.   

These are just a few tips to get you started in building the complex life skill of enhancing your productivity. Seek out support from others with these strategies – finding the right cheerleaders or accountability buddies is helpful for all the types in developing productivity skills. You don’t need to do these perfectly; every baby step is an improvement. Happy productivity trails!


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Organizational Development Using the Enneagram

20160217_134027The Enneagram benefits more than just the individuals and teams who exist within a workplace; it also supports the organization itself in remaining healthy. Understanding company culture from an Enneagram standpoint can help organizations address blind spots, build new capacities, and grow.

Just like individuals, organizations and cultures also have an Enneagram type! Many Enneagram teachers, for example, will observe that the United States has a type Three culture and Canada a type Nine culture. Similarly, companies tend to have a culture based on an Enneagram type. A type Two company culture, for example, may be particularly focused on serving the relationship with their customers, while a type Six company culture may be particularly focused on protecting the security of the company.

While most company cultures have inherent strengths, they also tend to have certain blind spots. A type Two company culture may be so focused on relationships that they forget to attend to important paperwork and balancing the budget. A type Six company culture may be so focused on preserving the security of the company that they avoid taking risks that would move the company forward in a positive way.

An assessment from an Enneagram workplace consultant will assist companies in seeing what Enneagram type strategies their workplace culture values and what Enneagram types they tend to neglect. Often, workplaces will tend to hire people who display the Enneagram types their culture values. For example, a company that strongly values type Two strategies may hire a large number of workers who are Twos, while being less impressed by the contributions of another type, such as a type Five who is more likely to be focused on information than customer relationships. Looking at hiring through the lens of the Enneagram can help diversify the process and acknowledge the value and necessity of overlooked skill sets.

Organizational Enneagram consultants may also look at the Level of Development in which a company is functioning, outside of type. A company that is functioning well will not only have minimize the conflicts among employees, it will also bring strong contributions to the world. Companies that are less healthy will typically have more miscommunications and conflicts and will spend more time mediating these challenges than growing as organizations. Unhealthy companies may even resort to cutting corners, or even unethical behavior, just to stay afloat.

Using the Enneagram in organizations supports companies in creating and maintaining a culture that hires and values a workforce of diverse, complementary personalities. It also aids companies in developing strategies that allow them to function healthfully and focus on bringing intrinsic value to their field.


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Video Review: Tapping for Your Type

IMG_2442We have something special to share with you this month. Psychotherapist and leadership coach Rachel Alexandria has released a series of videos that introduce a powerful process to heal our Enneagram types’ wounds. Introducing Tapping for Your Type!

Tapping, or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), is a kind of acupressure that uses points on the body to access your energy and ability to self-heal. By using your fingers to tap on specific spots such as the top of your head or side of your hand, you stimulate your body to shift stuck energy and clear emotional blocks. Tapping can be used to address many kinds of challenges, from anxiety to chronic pain to trauma. This video series is the first program to pair it with work on, in Alexandria’s words, our Enneagram “type challenges, limiting beliefs, and stuck patterns.”

There’s a video series geared toward each type, with a free demonstration video focusing on core issues (accessible on her site and via YouTube) and a subsequent set of videos focusing on the type’s common challenges with work, social issues, relationships, wellness, and spirituality and life path. Alexandria also encourages viewers to watch videos for their connecting points and wing, giving them a wide array of tools to address the stuck patterns they run into from day to day. If you’re butting heads with your boss, the work video would be a good one to come back to; if you’re grappling with questions of meaning and purpose, the spirituality and life path video will likely offer some gems of guidance.  

We’re both new to tapping, and Rachel Alexandria’s straightforward introduction makes it easy to dive in. Her videos show you a number of pressure points to tap and demonstrate the process. Thanks to their clear visuals and demonstration, any new practitioner can quickly tap along. The process works through a set of statements, repeated aloud and anchored in the body through tapping on a particular acupressure point. Each one follows an acknowledgment of a particular, type-characteristic challenge, such as “Even though I feel like I have to rebel against authority,” with words of self-acceptance or release, such as “I deeply and completely accept myself.” The result is more affecting and grounded than using affirmations, and the videos encourage listeners to look at their pain directly and delve into healing head on.  

Alexandria’s innovative approach has both breadth and depth, touching on a spectrum of challenges that each Enneagram type may encounter and offering validation and insights that can often be emotional. We highly recommend it for anyone who looking for a somatic tool to work on wearing their personality patterns more lightly and easing the chatter of the inner critic. You can check out the whole series here.


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How Each Enneagram Type Can Build Healthy Habits

habits blogNo matter what our lifestyle is, all of us have habits that help us manage our lives. Sometimes these habits, such as flossing daily and having a regular personal growth practice, sustain and nourish our long-term happiness and health. Other habits, such as skipping lunch to be productive or not getting enough sleep, allow us to meet goals in the short term but aren’t good for our long-term well-being.

Each Enneagram type has a basic motivation or desire, and our habits are ways we unconsciously try to get our needs met. But it’s all too common for us to form self-talk and behaviors that end up hurting instead of helping us. There’s good news, though: with the right structures and support, all of us have the ability to form long-term habits that help us meet our fullest potential.

Here are healthy habits that each of the Enneagram types can work to develop:

Type One: Make time to relax and laugh every day. Your natural self-discipline helps you do the right thing, but can leave little time to unwind. Set aside a time where you practice deep breathing, laugh at silly YouTube videos, or dance along to music you like. Letting yourself let loose, even just a little bit, will provide perspective, fun, and balance.

Type Two: Take yourself on dates. You’re naturally intuitive about others’ needs, but sometimes you spend so much time supporting others, your own self-care gets lost. A little bit of time set aside to do something you love, whether it’s watercolor painting or Netflixing a favorite TV show, will give you self-nourishment and support.

Type Three: Unplug yourself from the external world. Your incredible productivity, and ability to accomplish things that others value and appreciate, can make it hard to make time to discover your own desires. Whether it’s going into nature or taking a mindful daily shower, true solo time- without your phone or social media- will help you look out for number one.

Type Four: Bring organization into your self-expression. You have a remarkable ability to create and imagine, but sometimes lack the self-discipline to bring your visions to life. Accountability to a schedule or calendar will help you finish tasks and share your gifts with the world. Feel free to customize your organizational system with your own personal touches!

Type Five: Use the buddy system to get motivated. Your strength of incredible focus gets lost when you aren’t able to start projects that inspire you. Find a friend or coworker with similar goals for accountability to provide encouragement. A buddy will be a source of connection and support, giving you the kick to put your ideas out there.

Type Six: Do something that stimulates your mind. You’re wonderful at providing leadership from a place of support, but can get mentally “stuck” in certain ways of doing things. Doing reading that interests you, discussing and debating ideas, and even playing strategy computer games will help you stay in touch with the ideas you believe in.

Type Seven: Focus on doing one thing at a time. Your productivity is a huge strength, but when you try to do several things at once, it’s easy to drop or forget projects. Try tying a task that’s boring into something you find fun or interesting (musical cleaning party?). Harness your natural enthusiasm to focus and see tasks through to completion.

Type Eight: Do something regularly to give back to others. You excel at leadership and impact, and can sometimes overlook relationship building. Use your strength to lift up others, even though simple morale-boosters, like complimenting your partner or holding the door at work. Giving genuine love and care will nourish your own heart and make you a better leader.

Type Nine: Make a list of goals, and a plan for accomplishing them. Your gift for creating harmony and unity sometimes causes you to lose a sense of self amongst the greater collective fabric. Set aside time everyday for self-exploration and execution of your own personal desires. Self-accomplishment will give you an ever greater sense of happiness and harmony!

Setting healthy habits takes work- according to the latest research, it takes an average of 66 days for people to change their habits. During those initial few months, stay motivated, and ask for help when you need it. A more balanced life isn’t far away!


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Understanding the Levels of Development

levels of developmentWe all have times when we’re at our best – attentive, resilient, and able to handle whatever comes our way. We also have times when every little thing bugs us, and we find ourselves caught up in conflict at the drop of a hat.

Most Enneagram teachers, including us, believe that we each have a personality type that is probably set from an early age. Our Enneagram type gives us a core motivation and a way we desire to exist in the world. Sometimes, those of us who share an Enneagram type will also share similar ways of behaving in our environments. However, we also see a great deal of variation in how people with the same type behave, and in how we ourselves behave at different points in our life.

One of our Enneagram teachers, Don Riso (joined later by Russ Hudson), described much of this variation through the Levels of Development. Riso identified that each of the Enneagram types has nine different Levels of Health at which they can exist. All of us have days where we’re “on our game,” with an awareness and ability to respond to circumstances in a way that’s empowering. On the other hand, sometimes we have days that are more difficult, and say or do things we later regret. These Levels represent a range of attitudes and behaviors that exist in all of us, over the course of years or even in the same day! Understanding the Levels of Development helps us stay aware of how we’re doing, and catch ourselves when we dip lower than we’d like to.

Below is a brief summary of how The Enneagram Institute summarizes Healthy, Average, and Unhealthy Levels:

The Healthy Levels (Levels One, Two, and Three) – At the Healthy Levels of Development, we’re able to approach situations with awareness and compassion for ourselves and others. We have the ability to make decisions that are effective and beneficial. We embody our Enneagram type’s most positive qualities. When operating healthfully, we find ourselves acting and behaving in ways that contribute positively to our own lives and our communities around us. Most of us hope to attain the strong awareness and psychological health of Levels One-Three, and through our personal growth work and practices we can establish a baseline of functioning at these Levels.

The Average Levels (Levels Four, Five, and Six) – Average Levels of Development tend to encompass much of our everyday functioning. At these Levels, we’re often feeling good and managing our lives, but we don’t have the same degree of awareness as we do in the Healthy Levels. Riso and Hudson describe us as starting to operate on autopilot at these Levels, and our decisions are based on what we feel like we need to get our type’s motivations met. When we face challenges at Average Levels, we make decisions less mindfully, often saying and doing things to try to gain control over situations. These decisions may not be the best in the long term, and can cause strain on our relationships. The good news is, at Average Levels we still maintain some level of self-awareness, and respond to personal growth practices that help us regain healthy psychological functioning.

The Unhealthy Levels (Levels Seven, Eight, and Nine) – When we function at Unhealthy Levels, we lack self-awareness and make decisions completely on autopilot. At this point, our decisions have the potential to be destructive to ourselves and others. The good news is, most of us don’t operate here long-term. When someone stays in the Unhealthy Levels, it’s usually a reaction to severe crisis or trauma. At these Levels, we benefit from receiving support from a therapist or other trained professional.

It’s possible for all of us to learn to operate in a place that is psychologically healthy and aware! Through a combination of developing regular practices that challenge and inspire us, and finding a team of supporters in our goals, we can develop the attentiveness, functionality, and flexibility that characterize a shift up the Levels.

To learn more about how the Levels of Development work in all nine types, we recommend reading Personality Types, by Don Riso with Russ Hudson, or attending our Journey of Growth (Levels) Enneagram Institute Authorized Workshop.