Enneagram: Berghoef & Bell Innovations

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What Real Love Is and What We Mistake for It

As Valentine’s Day rolls around, we are surrounded by images of love. Some of these are commercial, like sentimental cards and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. Some of them are idealized cultural expectations, such as flowers or romantic dates. The prevalence of these images reminds us of an inner truth: that we all have our own ideas of what love is. Our expectations for romance and relationships are shaped by our culture, family, and often our Enneagram type. It’s easy to seek out a relationship that matches these expectations, and in the process, we may overlook experiences of real love that manifest differently. Let’s take a look at some of the ways each Enneagram type imagines love, as well as the deeper truths of love and relationships that they might not expect.  

Type One: Ones have been known to make lists of qualities that they are looking for in a partner, and to seek out someone who ticks all the boxes! As with many areas of life, Ones, on some level, want relationships that follow a certain set of standards. However, they often find themselves falling for someone quite different from their anticipated template. The truth for Ones to discover is that love is messy, a somewhat irrational process that’s perfect in its own way.

Type Two: Of all the Enneagram types, Twos are most focused on love, which they see as something they have to earn by giving to others. They imagine that their effort will be reciprocated, and that being loved means being appreciated and cared for in the ways they want to be. What Twos can discover is that real love is unconditional. It means attuning to another’s genuine needs rather than having our efforts reciprocated in a certain desired way.

Type Three: Many Threes dream of entering relationships that will draw others’ approval. Consciously or unconsciously, they seek out partners that match values reflected to them, whether it’s their family’s standards or societally prized attributes such as wealth or good looks. Through finding desirable partners, Threes hope to enhance their own value. The lesson for Threes is that love is a matter of heart connection, in which Threes can open up and be valued for themselves.

Type Four: Fours imagine that love means being understood completely, and finding a rescuer from their hardships. They fantasize about an ideal partner who will elevate them above the humdrum and mirror their deepest desires. What Fours can learn about love is that it is primarily altruistic. Rather than being a lover-embodied solution to all their problems, it is a force that transforms and heals by refocusing energy on caring for the other person.

Type Five: When Fives imagine an ideal relationship – whereas in some cases, they imagine a life of personal space and solitude, not “needing love” – they prefer a partner who’s interested in ideas, preferably someone who shares the Five’s interests and will listen to them at length. What sometimes surprises Fives is how much love is not an intellectual exercise. Genuine love for a Five brings patience, acceptance, and continual support.

Type Six: Sixes seek a “sure thing” in love and relationships. For them, love is security. They tend to seek out partners who will be steady and committed to them. At the same time, they question their loved ones and doubt that commitment. No matter how secure a relationship seems externally, it differs from the internal steadiness that will allow Sixes to stay the course with confidence. A revolution about love for type Six is that it’s intrinsically driven, and always there.  

Type Seven: Sevens seek out liberty within their relationships. A Seven may have coined the saying “If you love somebody, set them free.” While some Sevens live up to the stereotype of having trouble with commitment, others imagine that real love means excitement and stimulation. The surprise is that love can be a powerful agent for bringing us into the present moment. Loving relationships with others are grounding, and connect us with the joy of the here and now.

Type Eight: Eights are wary of opening up, and when they love, they love fiercely. For them, love means protecting the people that matter to them. People of action, they may throw themselves into acts of service rather than letting emotion in. The key for Eights is that the more they let down their guard and open their hearts in relationship, the deeper the reward. They discover that love is more than an act of protection; it is also an energy that nurtures them.

Type Nine: Nines seek love deeply, with the unconscious belief that love means getting along with others, connecting, and dwelling in harmony. These assumptions are true up to a point. Misconceptions occur when Nines imagine that harmony is continual agreement and pleasant, affiliative energy. What surprises Nines is that genuine love requires conflict to grow. As individuals stand up and hash out opinions, relationships are strengthened and become more harmonious.

No matter what our Enneagram type or relationship status, we can benefit from reflecting on the ways we imagine love to look, and being open to the unexpected forms it often takes in practice.


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Network Well by Using Your Instincts

IMG_0521Most of us know the famous saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Whether you’re employed, looking for work, an entrepreneur, or some combination of the above, there’s no doubt that networking and relationship building are instrumental in professional success. The research shows that strong networking skills not only help us find the right position, but also correlate with higher salary, more promotions, and increased satisfaction in the workplace.

There are many ways to build your network, from keeping in touch with new contacts to connecting with people you’d like to get to know through professional contacts on LinkedIn. One common and useful way of meeting new people is to attend or host networking events focused on common goals or interests.  

The three Instincts, Self-Preservation, Sexual, and Social, all bring unconscious needs and biases to in-person and online networking. We tend to overdo the needs of our dominant Instinct and underdo, or minimize, our blind spot Instinct’s needs. In order to develop strong networking skills, all of us must bring attention to all three Instincts, to meet the needs of others and ourselves. Below are some suggestions on how to plan and successfully navigate networking events in a way that addresses the desires of all three Instincts.

Self-Preservation: The Self-Preservation Instinct is the part of us that cares about our physical environment and space. If you’re planning a networking event, make sure the venue has comfortable spaces for guests to unwind, and food and drink for a wide range of dietary needs. Let people know in advance if the temperature tends to run hot or cold. At the event, make sure you talk to people in locations where they’re physically comfortable – move to a table if your contact is precariously balancing food and drink during the conversation.

If Self-Preservation is your dominant Instinct, it can be easy to get caught up in sensitivity to the environment, at the expense of getting to know others. Make an effort to spend some time moving around the room, introducing yourself to other people, and letting them know how you can be of value to them.

Sexual: The Sexual Instinct is the part of us that cares about the excitement and stimulation the event provides. Include something about the event, whether it’s an edgy venue or exotic food, that pushes the envelope and gets your guests fired up to be there. Make the event open to allowing all guests to express creativity and discuss their passions. At the event, engage participants by getting them to discuss topics that excite them. Don’t be afraid to break from “working the room” and spend more time with a participant with whom you feel a particularly strong mutual connection.

If Sexual is your dominant Instinct, you may have a tendency to focus on people you find exciting, rather than building networking relationships that support your professional growth. Take the time to explore meeting a wide variety of people, focusing on mutual reciprocity over immediate chemistry.

Social: The Social Instinct is the part of us that cares about finding connection and common ground with others. To bring out the Social Instinct in guests, make sure the venue has plenty of open spaces for ample conversation, and plan icebreakers to get attendees to start talking. Engage the Social Instinct of participants at networking events by not just getting “down to business” – spend time getting to know each other first. Pay attention to the needs of contacts and build relationships by making sure you can offer ways to help and support them, too.

If Social is your dominant Instinct, you likely excel at meeting others at networking events, but sometimes you can work the room a little too quickly and smoothly. Spend enough time getting to know other participants and finding shared interests and values, and help others by introducing them to people you think they’d connect with.

Keeping the three Instincts in mind as you navigate networking events will add to your own and others’ enjoyment, and enhance the quality of the connections you make.


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How Each Enneagram Type Can Boost Their EQ

10370417_10152774707326551_5582957100565360571_nEmotional intelligence is a key concept in many of today’s workplaces, and has been named one of the decade’s most influential business ideas by the Harvard Business Review. But what exactly does it mean, and why is it important?

Daniel Goleman, who popularized the concept of emotional intelligence or “EQ” (as opposed to IQ), defines it as a set of competencies that encompasses empathy, social skills, self-motivation, and understanding and management of emotions. Emotional intelligence involves skillfully handling your own emotions, as well as navigating the emotional dynamics of the interpersonal world. These “soft skills” are equally crucial for leadership, both for building rapport and for dealing with problems as they arise. As executive coach and Enneagram teacher Mario Sikora writes, “Emotions are often one part of our brain’s attempt to tell another part of our brain to pay attention to something that could be important.”

All of us have the capacity to hone our emotional intelligence, helping us become more skilled and flexible leaders. Here are some tips for each personality type to build more EQ muscle.

Type One: Ones excel at motivating others with a vision of excellence, but run into their EQ blind spot when their critiques don’t take others’ feelings into account. Ones can work on considering the perspectives of others and bringing compassionate levity into their interactions.

Type Two: Twos are skilled at empathizing with others, but awareness of their own emotional needs can be a blind spot. Twos can benefit from deliberately setting aside alone time to reflect and connect with themselves, and acting on the insights they discover.

Type Three: Threes adapt well to varied emotional climates. Like Twos, they can lose touch with their own emotions. A bit of reframing may be helpful here: instead of setting feelings aside to get the job done, consider them important information to take action on.

Type Four: Attentive to their own emotional landscape, Fours may become self-absorbed and neglect important relationships. They benefit from making a deliberate effort to reach out and stay connected, supporting others and listening to their points of view.

Type Five: Fives tend to be even-keeled and nonjudgmental, but have a blind spot around connecting interpersonally with others. Fives can work on staying open to people in their relationships and interactions, and considering the impact they have on others.

Type Six: Sixes do well at building rapport with others, but may put people off by being pessimistic. To up their EQ, Sixes benefit from working on morale-boosting: try adding encouragement to conversations and anticipating what could go right.

Type Seven: Sevens excel at creating a positive and exciting emotional climate. Their blind spot is acknowledging challenges. Rather than reframing difficulties or moving on to the next big thing, Sevens might try building their capacity to stay with the rough patches.

Type Eight: Eights are honest and know how to make an impression, but are not always aware of how strongly they can come off. To boost EQ, Eights might try softening their approach and extending generosity and kindness to other people.

Type Nine: Nines are proficient at creating harmony and putting others at ease, but their own needs can get overlooked as they do so. Nines can grow EQ by making a conscious effort to speak up about their wishes and feelings.

These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot to learn about emotional intelligence, but bringing more attention to your own emotional states and the emotional dynamics present in your relationships is a good starting place for sharpening your leadership skills and boosting your capacity to successfully navigate life’s challenges.


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Why Self-Awareness Matters

IMG_0650 - CopyIf you were a Greek citizen in the 4th century B.C., traveling to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi to listen to the Oracle’s wisdom, you’d find this inscription on the wall: “Know thyself.” In more recent years, self-awareness gets less press than flashier qualities like ambition and charisma. However, it matters just as much today as it did in ancient Greece. Here are 4 ways that self-awareness, one of the biggest results of learning the Enneagram, benefits our work and daily life.

  1. It builds business success.

A 2009 study found high self-awareness to be the top predictor of executives’ success. These self-aware executives are more likely to hire people who excel in their own areas of weakness, and to recognize when others’ ideas are better than their own. Most businesses require skills beyond what their leadership team is immediately able to provide. Self-aware leaders can recognize these gaps and make judicious choices about when to acquire these skills and when to outsource. They structure their teams intelligently and are open to learning from others. Not only does their willingness to delegate create a happier and more cohesive team; it also pays off in dollars. A 2015 study of 486 public companies’ financial performance found that the highest-earning companies had the most self-aware employees with the fewest blind spots – areas that professionals named as personal strengths but their colleagues’ feedback revealed to be personal weaknesses.

  1. It improves time management.

We all want to spend our time on things we care about. If social justice gets you moving, you’d probably be happiest contributing your time to the greater good, whether that’s volunteering in a soup kitchen on the weekends or founding an NGO. If you value the impact and experience of speaking to crowds, you might drag your feet in a career that revolves around one-on-one work or working from home. If you’re a person that needs a lot of solitude, your ideal schedule will look different than that of someone who values lots of family time. Becoming aware of what motivates you allows you to make wise choices about how to spend your time, both professionally and personally.

  1. It helps you find a niche.

Having a good sense of your strengths can tip you off to the type of work that’s best suited to you. If you’re great at building relationships with people, let that permeate your career, whether through direct client work or B2B marketing. If you’re gifted at working with your hands, see if you can use that ability even if you’re in a seemingly unrelated field. (We’ve both had colleagues who were lauded for their beautiful office decorations!) Once you have a good sense of how and where you bring the most value, let it guide the choices you make. It might just become the thing you’re known for, the catalyst of your personal success story.

  1. It strengthens relationships.

We all have tendencies that drive other people crazy. Self-awareness allows us to see them. If you find yourself criticizing or dominating (or whatever pattern you do that gets on people’s nerves), take a moment to notice what’s going on in your body. See if you can step back from your reaction and choose a different way to engage. The important people in your life will thank you! What’s more, when you’re open and attentive rather than habit-driven, other people will be more open, too. They’ll feel more appreciated and connect to you more easily. Having a daily self-observation practice, like mindfulness or yoga, is helpful in building these self-awareness skills. If you practice noticing your mind’s tricks on the mat, it will become easier to notice them among friends, colleagues, and family.

No matter what your personality type is, you’ll reap benefits from building self-awareness. Are there subtle ways you can restructure your life to play to your strengths? Are there small steps you can take to mitigate your challenges? As you learn more about yourself, what actions can you take to help you thrive?


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Understanding Your Family

goatsFamilies are some of the most powerful relationships around. They’re the first relationships we’re involved in, and the patterns of interaction that we develop in our families shape the rest of our lives. We think it’s unlikely that parents or upbringing define Enneagram type; take any set of siblings and you’ll find that their view of the same childhood moments differs radically. However, our families have a lasting impact on our well-being. Healthy families increase children’s confidence and capacity for resilience, while unhealthy families make it harder for kids to develop these skills.

We can choose our partners, but for the most part, we don’t choose parents, siblings, children, and other relatives. Sometimes we have a lot in common with family members, and their differing skills and perspectives smoothly complement our own. Other times, we find ourselves diverging from the values of other family members, or being set off by their personality tics. For better or worse, families make great laboratories for learning how to get along with different kinds of people!

If you find yourself wondering why your mother has to go on about her health so much, or what possessed your teenager to get that tattoo, the Enneagram can help. By understanding what motivates our family members, we’re better able to connect with them. Instead of hoping to make them more like us, we can show up with attention, compassion, and hold space for family members to be the best versions of exactly who they are.

Here are some ways you can hold space for your family members of all Enneagram types:

Type One: The family Perfectionists, Ones are upstanding and lead the family by example, but can get critical when you diverge from their rules. Connect with the Ones in your family by encouraging them to have fun, and letting them know that you value them just as they are.

Type Two: Two Helpers seek to meet family members’ unstated needs through acts of service, caring, and sometimes intrusion. Connect with the Twos in your family by acknowledging the importance of their needs and showing them love no matter what they do.

Type Three: Three Achievers inspire their families. They often squelch their own desires by picking up on their family’s dreams and striving to become the family success story. Connect with the Threes in your family by guiding them to follow their own interests and desires.

Type Four: Four Individualists add soul to the family, and also bring shadows into the open – making sure families can’t forget things they don’t want to acknowledge. Connect with the Fours in your family by taking responsibility for the past, and holding emotional steadiness.

Type Five: Five Investigators bring rich expertise to their families, but may be difficult to engage otherwise. Connect with the Fives in your family by allowing them the space they need, while nurturing them in developing emotional connections with others.

Type Six: Six Loyalists show steadfast commitment to family, but may test family members for loyalty, and sometimes rebel. Connect with the Sixes in your family by showing them that you’re trustworthy and devoted, while being steady and clear with your boundaries.

Type Seven: Seven Enthusiasts stir up excitement and make family gatherings fun, but may act out when they get bored and frustrated. Connect with the Sevens in your family by savoring joy together – especially mindful, everyday joy – and supporting them during the hard times.

Type Eight: Eight Challengers are protective of family members but sometimes also push to exert control over the family. Connect with the Eights in your family by showing strength and solidity, but also allowing them to be vulnerable and lean on you when they need to.

Type Nine: Nine Peacemakers create a harmonious, cohesive family environment, which sometimes means they sweep problems under the rug. Connect with the Nines in your family by sharing pleasant times, while encouraging them to speak up and assert their needs.


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Getting Your Needs Met in Relationships

tangoWe all know wonderful relationships where opposites attract. For example, one person might tend to the home and hearth, while the other cultivates the couple’s circle of friends. When both people appreciate each other’s contributions, their connection thrives! The whole becomes more than the sum of its parts. But sometimes it’s difficult for people to understand their partner’s priorities. When that happens, it helps to take a look at both people’s needs.

Learning the Enneagram Instincts teaches us the unconscious drives behind our relationship behavior. Instincts are biological and work to ensure our survival, individually and as a species. The Enneagram describes three that we share with much of the animal kingdom: the Self-Preservation, Sexual, and Social Instincts. These drives shape our behavior in both subtle and obvious ways. We all use all three of these Instincts, but one of them, our dominant Instinct, shapes our focus in life and relationships. It’s helpful to learn which Instinct is dominant for both ourselves and our partners.

The Self-Preservation Instinct is focused on survival, physical well-being, and maintaining a foundation in the world. This can show up as a focus on health, work and practical know-how, or domesticity. People with a dominant Self-Preservation Instinct value conserving energy, so tend to be more low-key in their activities. If your partner has a dominant Self-Preservation Instinct, they’re looking for someone to come home to and relax with–a source of solace. They appreciate having a partner they can build and savor a life with.

The Sexual Instinct is focused on stimulation, exploration, and having a person or passion to focus on intensely. People with a dominant Sexual Instinct are natural risk-takers, seeking to display, attract, and have their energy met. They’re compelled to “burn fuel” for the sake of creating something or reaching that next frontier. If your partner has a dominant Sexual Instinct, they’re looking for a relationship that provides an energetic connection. They appreciate having a partner who maintains excitement and novelty.

The Social Instinct is focused on cooperation, contribution, and maintaining awareness of the people around us. People with a dominant Social Instinct value bonding and shared play. They are adaptable and attentive to interdependence, but deliberate about which communities to participate in. If your partner has a dominant Social Instinct, they’re looking for a relationship built on reciprocity, shared interests, and mutual support. They appreciate having a partner who’s a teammate as well as a playmate.

In all relationships, it takes consideration and good communication to meet each others’ needs. When each person has a different dominant Instinct, conscious effort is important to understand what the other person values. What qualities do you each bring to the table, and how can you work together to ensure you both get your needs met? When both people share the same dominant Instinct, it’s important to understand how your views of that Instinct’s priorities are similar or different. What strengths do you share, and how can you work together to bring the other two Instincts into your relationship? Putting in this effort leads to rich relationships, with each partner bringing different, vital contributions.