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These three types, which comprise the withdrawn social style, may often seem like they have their “head in the clouds,” focusing on daydreams, intellectual ideas, or the world of emotions.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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Freedom for Each Enneagram Type

20160618_053232-1-1July marks the national holidays of both our home countries, Canada Day (on July 1st) and Independence Day (on the 4th of July). Our friends and families are coming together to celebrate freedom in a flurry of fireworks and picnics. But the idea of freedom transcends national borders.

Freedom is one of the things that first drew us to the Enneagram, a personality system with the power to shed light on our habitual ways of seeing and doing things, and in illuminating them, guide us to move beyond them. Freedom was what we felt the first time we caught ourselves acting out of habit and realized that we could choose to act differently. In the wise words of Victor Frankl, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Here are some things that each Enneagram type to notice that show when your personality pattern is running the show, and tip you off to the possibility of greater freedom. Riso and Hudson call them your “wake-up call.” Notice when one of these habits arises in you, take a breath, and allow that space to free up new responses to the situation.

Type One: Something isn’t right, and it bugs you. Maybe there’s litter along the highway, or the spices are out of place on the rack. Notice when you feel that weight of obligation, and your inner voice says, “It’s my job to fix it. I’m the only one who cares.” It’s easier to respond proactively and gracefully once that tug loosens.  

Type Two: You care about someone so much that you want to develop a relationship… so you seek to win them over. Maybe you offer a gesture, a gift, or a complement. Notice when you feel that sense of leaning toward someone, and feel what’s going on with yourself. It’s easier to connect from a place where you are centered.

Type Three: Such a big world, with so many goals to strive for! People around you extoll getting promotions, shining on social media, and dressing just so… so you strive for those successes. Notice when you’re driving towards a goal, seeking a positive response from others. Can you find the freedom to pursue what matters to you deeply?  

Type Four: Speaking of shiny social media, how often do you find yourself looking at the qualities, accomplishments, and possessions of others and imagining how nice it would be to have them? Resenting them? Spinning personal stories of sorrow? Notice the feelings you’re embroidering and holding on to. Letting go brings freedom.

Type Five: You’ve figured out how to make sense of the world, or at least your area of expertise. Notice when you find yourself analyzing, using your favorite system to explain what’s going on, or theorizing and combining ideas – disconnected from reality. Reconnecting creates openness to brighter flashes of insight.  

Type Six: You feel uncertain about which path is right, until you encounter a person or system with a clear answer. When making a decision, you hear the voices of competing advisors in your head. Notice when you’re seeking guidance from something outside yourself. In allowing your inner guidance to emerge, you’ll find greater freedom.

Type Seven: You’re kayaking down the river, the sky clear above you, and all you can think about is how exciting that next trip is going to be. Tune in to the times when you’re anticipating the future, thinking of options that could be better and brighter. There’s freedom to be felt in the experience you’re having right now.

Type Eight: You sense that the world is tough, so you toughen up to deal with it. The boxing gloves come on and the energy you direct into the world amps up. Notice when you feel the need to fight to make things happen. In relaxing and trusting, your real strength can come through as you act freely.

Type Nine: You’re happiest when you feel like things are going smoothly, so it’s easy to go along with others and believe that will bring the harmony you want. Notice when you’re saying “yes” to things – is that the answer that you truly want to give, or would you prefer pizza over Chinese takeout this time?

Freedom isn’t a clear-cut thing, but you’ll know it when you feel it. There’s nothing like the awareness of when we’ve been running on autopilot, coupled with that sudden, shocking realization that now that we see our “programming” at play, we can choose to follow it or not. Options expand, and the horizon grows wider.


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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.


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Nine Types of Leaders

2010-05-27 12.33.01Leadership is more than just a skill. It’s a complex set of qualities, behaviors, and aptitudes that varies depending on the context. There are situations where immediate action is called for, and the most effective leader is a decisive individual who takes the first step. In other times and places, the most suitable leader is a visionary strategist who charts a deliberate and powerful course.

Many roles in our lives call on us to be leaders, ranging from formalized management and executive positions at work to informal actions among family or peers. Whether we’re positioned at the forefront or acting in a vital support role, it’s helpful to take a careful look at our own leadership strengths and challenges as they affect our situation. The nine Enneagram types provide a valuable shorthand for recognizing these qualities in ourselves, as well as in those we work with, delegate to, and seek to develop as fellow leaders. In the following descriptions, see if you can recognize the strengths that come most naturally to you and those you can work to build in order to increase your leadership flexibility.

Type One: Motivated by principles, you hold a strong vision and inspire others to follow it. Leadership becomes a process of improving what you see and seeking to bring out the best in the aspects of life you care about. Challenge yourself to be flexible in your mission, acknowledging the positive and allowing for efforts that deviate from “the book.”

Type Two: Motivated by connection, you nurture others and build their skills. Whether creating networks, mentoring, delivering excellent customer service or offering support, people are vital to your values as a leader. Challenge yourself to expand your vision beyond others, making space for your needs and the broader, less immediately personal context.

Type Three: Motivated by value, you strive toward quality results, efficiency, and success. Teams and projects you lead have a polished touch, and you’re adaptable in the ways you pursue results. Challenge yourself to be attentive to others’ contributions and strengths, allowing them to step up and be effective even when it’s less “efficient.”

Type Four: Motivated by identity, your leadership efforts are an extension of your personal vision. You thrive when creating and designing projects, and are attentive to the emotional dynamics of your teams. Challenge yourself to hold your vision loosely, allowing for others to contribute and efforts to evolve beyond the possibilities you imagined.   

Type Five: Motivated by mastery, you lead by accumulating specialized knowledge, strategizing, and investigating possibilities. You can see connections between ideas and use them to plan a far-reaching course of action. Challenge yourself to step beyond the role of strategist, observe interpersonal dynamics, and build relationships with your team.

Type Six: Motivated by security, you lead as an equal, working cooperatively with others for outcomes that create shared benefit. You value interdependence and advocate powerfully for the underdog. Challenge yourself to step forward in situations where you’re invested but unsure; you have likely already built a foundation of respect to lead from.

Type Seven: Motivated by possibilities, you excel at getting new things started. Your creativity generates ideas, while your enthusiasm brings others on board to get things done and fosters goodwill among the group. Challenge yourself to sustain ideas and projects when the going gets tough, both delegating and putting in legwork to see things through.  

Type Eight: Motivated by impact, you bring lots of energy and action to make things happen. Your confidence makes decisions easy and supports others, especially when you work to empower them. Challenge yourself to recognize when you’re expending too much effort, and allow yourself to rest and others to support you in these times.   

Type Nine: Motivated by harmony, you create an environment of cooperation where people feel comfortable around you. You lead without standing in the spotlight, including others so that they feel like they created the changes you spearheaded themselves. Challenge yourself to take charge and address conflict directly when it arises; you do this well.

As you’ve seen, you already possess leadership qualities inherent to your personality type. With some honing and balancing, you can develop them in ways that will have a powerful impact on the world.


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Effective Goal Setting for Your Enneagram Type

20151029_144017“Out with the old, and in with the new!” The beginning of a new year is widely recognized as a time for goal setting. We may vow to clean our houses, get in shape, be kinder. But often, the promises we make are forgotten by February.

As with many aspects of life, our personality patterns bring both strengths and challenges for goal setting. Each type tends to run into certain snags that make it more difficult to meet our goals. With this in mind, here are some type-specific shortcuts for setting goals that are achievable and rewarding.

Type One: It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to fulfill a goal to the letter, which can lead to the “paralyzed perfectionist” syndrome. This year, build some flexibility and leeway into your plans. Pursuing your goals can be imperfect and messy, while still being productive…and even a little fun!

Type Two: Have you ever found yourself making resolutions on behalf of others, rather than for yourself? Take some time for self-reflection in your goal setting this year, and prioritize self-care. What goals can you set that will nurture you and meet your needs? Consider setting yourself breaks from helping others.

Type Three: As with Type Two, take time for self-reflection and set some goals that are for yourself only. It may be tempting to promote your goal and your efforts toward it. However, you’ll find value in setting goals that are personally meaningful but private – accountable just to yourself.  

Type Four: It’s easy to dream of ambitious results. This year, set goals with built-in structure, making them easier to achieve. For example, you could work toward a specific goal every day, with measurable steps. Rather than aspiring to fix a perceived flaw, set goals that are positive and results-oriented.

Type Five: Rather than thinking about your goals and generating endless possibilities, focus on one or two solid objectives. Get grounded and implement them in your daily life. Bringing in help and support from others is helpful. If your goal is to get in shape, for example, find a gym buddy to work out with.

Type Six: Don’t let fear get in the way of committing to the goals that are important to you. There’s no need to ask your “committee,” or turn to that self-help book, for input in choosing a goal. Listen to your inner guidance and select a goal and way of meeting it that resonates with you.  

Type Seven: You have lots of great ideas. Go ahead and brainstorm; then take time to look through your list, reflect, and select one or two important things to focus on. Start by prioritizing something small and measurable. Big plans take time, and are completed step by committed step.

Type Eight: It’s easy to put a lot of zest and energy into your goals. Don’t overdo your plans this year; your goal setting doesn’t need to be ambitious or tiring. Be gentle with yourself and your efforts. Choose goals that will nurture your heart, and tap into your protective, magnanimous side.

Type Nine: Let your affinity for routine work for you, rather than against you. It takes time to change or create a habit. However, once you’ve put the effort into establishing a regular behavior, it will stick. Setting goals that you can work into routines will build new, meaningful habits into your life.

If you’d like to learn more about the Enneagram and goal setting, including a framework for setting more effective goals that benefits all types, join us on January 8 for our first Leadership Lunch Talk in San Francisco, or contact us to schedule a talk or workshop with your organization or group.