Enneagram: Berghoef & Bell Innovations

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Our Favorite Enneagram Resources

In our years of Enneagram teaching and learning, we’ve had the benefit of many wonderful resources. With the Enneagram growing in popularity, there are books, videos, courses, apps, and a plethora of other options for learning about its many applications. Writing our book The Modern Enneagram gave us an opportunity to contribute to this conversation. We wanted to create an entry point for newcomers to this complex system. For readers who want to continue their learning, we included a list of resources for going deeper, focusing on different applications of the Enneagram such as careers or relationships. This month, we’d like to spotlight a few of our favorite resources that we recommend in The Modern Enneagram.

For Beginners: The Enneagram Made Easy: Discover the 9 Types of People by Elizabeth Wagele and Renee Baron

If you’re new to the Enneagram and looking for an engaging starting point, or if you’re seeking a fun way to introduce the system to friends, family, or clients, this book is a perfect pick. It introduces the nine types in simple, accessible language. Liz’s cartoons, sprinkled liberally throughout the text, give funny and relatable examples of how the types behave and see things. They flesh out the Enneagram theory in ways beyond what words can convey alone, and make for great conversation points. The book’s breezy nature makes it easy to pick up and put down for busy readers.   

Business and Career: Awareness to Action: The Enneagram, Emotional Intelligence, and Change by Robert Tallon and Mario Sikora

This is an excellent practical guide for using the Enneagram in the workplace. It presents the nine types as strategies that can be used skillfully or unskillfully, and introduces a simple framework for building on your strengths and growing your performance. Many mainstream Enneagram resources have a spiritual slant or use language that doesn’t work in corporate environments. This book speaks to the workplace in ways that are both thorough and usable, without skimping on the depth and growth that working with the Enneagram can provide.  

Personal Growth: Personality Types by Don Riso and Russ Hudson

An Enneagram classic, Riso and Hudson’s book delves deeply into the types’ dynamics and journeys of growth. It remains the most comprehensive resource for understanding the Levels of Development: the progression of personality through mental health, from our darkest struggles to our highest potential. Check out this book if you’re looking for in-depth insight and a thorough psychological take on the Enneagram types, as well as an inspiring view of what your best self can look like.

Relationships: Sex, Love, and Your Personality: The 9 Faces of Intimacy by Mona Coates and Judith Searle

This relationship book by a seasoned sex therapist goes beyond type and explores the three instincts, or subtypes, within each Enneagram number. Coates’ 35 years of working in the field allow her to offer rich and varied case studies for each type-instinct combo, illuminating real-life relationship challenges and ways of working with your type toward relationship success. This book also includes a scale for assessing relationship compatibility. Personal and thorough, it’s both an intriguing read and an excellent tool for understanding yourself and your partner.

Spiritual Growth: The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram: Nine Faces of the Soul by Sandra Maitri

This book is geared toward the advanced Enneagram student and spiritual seeker. Maitri expands on basic familiarity with the system by presenting some of the Enneagram’s spiritual context. She views the types as stemming from loss of contact with our essential nature, resulting in the development of a particular ego structure. The book goes into detail in explaining how these structures operate and how we can get more deeply in touch again with our essential selves. It also presents a unique take on each type’s repressed inner child.

One wonderful thing about the Enneagram today is the wealth of resources available. Our recommendations above are just the tip of the iceberg. See our book, The Modern Enneagram, for a more thorough list of recommended resources, or feel free to recommend your own in the comments!


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Modernizing the Enneagram

The Enneagram is a practical tool created from combining ancient wisdom teachings and contemporary psychology. Part of its appeal is the way it has stood the test of time. From its roots in the philosophies of the Desert Fathers and the Kabbalah, as well as its integration of newer psychological insights, modern students of the Enneagram have an eminently applicable system for understanding themselves and others, communicating, resolving conflicts, and working on themselves. Human nature has remained consistent over time, so it’s no surprise that a system rooted in long-standing wisdom traditions has a lot to offer us today.

The Enneagram of personality, as it is currently taught, is also old enough to have acquired its own history and tradition. Most teachers and students still consult classic Enneagram resources from a few decades ago, and there’s good reason for that. There’s nothing like the early works of Riso and Hudson, Palmer, Naranjo, and other Enneagram pioneers to give a sense of the system’s depth and intricacies. There are situations, however, where a modern update is called for in teaching and learning the Enneagram. The economy and job market have changed since the first Enneagram books were written. In our globalized world, we use forms of communication on a daily basis that would amaze even yesterday’s science fiction writers. It’s useful to have ways of teaching the Enneagram that reflect these new realities.

In our book The Modern Enneagram, we gave a lot of thought to bridging the gap between the Enneagram’s timeless insights and the interconnected world of today. Here are some principles we came up with for modernizing Enneagram work for contemporary audiences, while maintaining the essence of its teachings.

Adapt to a changing attention span.
People today are busy, with the constant buzz of smartphone alerts adding on to schedules full of work and family commitments. The ease of rapid communication means that we are expected to pay attention to more input, more quickly, for shorter amounts of time. A 2015 research study shows that the human attention span has fallen to about eight seconds. When introducing the Enneagram in a modern context, it’s helpful to offer a concise introduction that gets the point across and piques your audience’s interest. From there, you can ease students into more in-depth learning, but first it’s helpful to communicate why the Enneagram is worth their time.   

Use contemporary examples and case studies.
A lot of our favorite Enneagram books reference celebrities and pop culture from decades ago. If you’re introducing the Enneagram to newcomers, they may not be familiar with these examples, or they might find them hilariously dated. It’s helpful to find type examples from modern pop culture, which audiences can immediately relate to and younger students will recognize. Workplace and social realities have also changed since many Enneagram references came out. If you’re working with a group, address these changes and make a point of incorporating recent case studies to support the ideas you’re conveying. In our book, we included references to social media, dating apps, and modern workplace dynamics to keep the content relevant to readers’ lives.        

Take advantage of new ways of learning.
There are more ways of teaching and learning the Enneagram now than ever before. Some of the most popular Enneagram courses are now offered online, and you don’t have to travel to a workshop, or live in an area where one is convenient, to learn about the nine types in depth. There are Enneagram blogs, apps, and podcasts. While new ways of learning the Enneagram are proliferating, there’s still a lot of room for expansion. Consider ways you could reach a broader audience through the wide array of platforms available, and seek out people who want to learn what you have to teach. Don’t be afraid to incorporate new ways of learning into your in-person Enneagram work, too.        

The Enneagram has been around for a while now, and it continues to grow in popularity each year. With an eye to modern realities, it will continue to be a relevant and useful way of learning about ourselves and the people we interact with every day.


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Book Excerpt: Solving Problems at Work

Our new book, The Modern Enneagram, just got published. It’s an introduction to the system and its practical applications, with a storytelling style and modern updates. We’re pleased to share an excerpt about ways to use the Enneagram for workplace problem solving with you.

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The Enneagram is a popular way for businesses to help their teams understand each other and improve their performance and communication. It’s a useful tool for mediating disputes and resolving interpersonal conflicts on the job.

After learning about the nine types, Julia, an Enneagram Type Seven, started applying her new knowledge to her job of managing a team of graphic designers at a branding firm. She had her colleagues take an Enneagram type assessment, and they now have a common language to talk about each other’s personalities and viewpoints.

Let’s take a look at a scenario where the Enneagram helped solve a problem involving a diverse group of people in Julia’s workplace.

Bob is a repeat client of the firm where Julia works. He has contracted with the company to rebrand his business, including a new logo and marketing strategy. Exacting and critical, he has many specifications for the project. Having worked with Bob before, Julia believes him to be a Type One.

Kevin, a Type Four, is the designer in charge of visual branding for Bob’s company. He completed a logo and portfolio of visual material for the rebranding project, but Bob is dissatisfied with Kevin’s colorful, free-form designs. He wants the whole portfolio redesigned, and he has many specific changes that he would like Kevin to make. Being a One, he has high expectations and desires a brand identity that gets all the details right. He tells Julia that he wants the new portfolio within a set timeline, and says that if it isn’t up to his standards, he will not work with the company in the future. As a Seven, Julia wants to keep interactions optimistic—and she does not want to lose a valuable client. She assures Bob that Kevin will give him what he wants.

Kevin, however, says the timeline is unrealistic. It’s just too tight for him to redesign all the material required. Julia does not have a background in graphic design, and her knowledge of the field comes from working with designers rather than from firsthand experience. She doesn’t understand why a redesign can’t be done quickly.

Kevin explains that Bob’s expected timeline will not result in the powerful visual brand identity his company desires. At best, it will result in some slapdash materials that don’t reflect the quality the branding firm is known for. As a Four, Kevin takes the creative process seriously and values producing well-developed and eye-catching work. Kevin needs more time to come up with new concepts that will fit Bob’s precise specifications and still stand out in the market.

Lakesha, who heads the marketing department, is also advocating quick turnaround. She needs to have the visual branding finished in order for her department to complete the marketing strategy for Bob’s company and have it ready for an upcoming launch party. As a Three on the Enneagram, she wants the branding firm to put their best foot forward, and she sees satisfying the client as part of that.

Julia feels caught between Kevin’s request for more time, and Bob and Lakesha’s requests for more speed. She expresses her frustration to Lakesha—who has more design knowledge than Julia—and they decide to problem solve together. When she hears about the level of changes that Bob wants Kevin to make to the visual branding portfolio, Lakesha agrees that the timeline is unrealistic. Julia is resistant at first. After all, managing interactions with designers is her job, and she wants to make the customer happy. When Lakesha suggests negotiating a compromise with Bob, Julia realizes that she has some workable ideas (and strategies to deliver them) that will please both Bob and Kevin.

Julia contacts Bob and tells him that she respects the integrity of his vision for his company (a strong value for Bob as a One), and her branding firm is committed to representing this vision in the world. She uses her Type Seven strength of positivity to emphasize the advantages of Kevin’s design, and explains that, in order to get the new portfolio completed in time, Bob will need to compromise on some of the changes he wants. She speaks to the effort Kevin is putting in and the high standards of the firm’s design process. Bob is still grumpy, but Julia’s upbeat manner and understanding of his values assuage him somewhat. He is willing to compromise on certain aspects of the redesign, though not on the timeline.

Julia and Lakesha talk to Kevin together about the compromises Bob is willing to make. Kevin is relieved that, with a less intensive redesign, the timeline is closer to being workable. Lakesha proposes a structured plan for completing the project on time, and Julia expresses full confidence in his work. With Julia motivating him, Kevin is able to complete the redesigned logo and portfolio, and Lakesha’s team moves ahead with the marketing strategy.

Ultimately, Bob feels that his company’s rebrand is in good hands because Julia used honesty and integrity when dealing with him. Kevin feels like his creative process has been respected. Lakesha is happy to have achieved her client’s goal of a successful launch, and kept the firm’s good standing in Bob’s eyes. Julia is relieved that everyone involved with the redesign conflict is satisfied and on good terms. Thanks to the Enneagram, their needs and viewpoints have all been heard. They can move on to the next project harmoniously, without any lingering tension.

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The Modern Enneagram is available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.com at http://amzn.to/2jIWXtR and from Amazon.ca at https://is.gd/qZt89f.