We’ve all been there. In school, or at a new job, taking those personality/career tests that bleakly lay out our destinies in overtly traditional careers. Mindlessly clicking only to discover our inevitable fate is showing up each day for a career that’s far too dull, or so stressful we’re chewing our nails down to flaky stubs. This is not one of those tests.
“The Enneagram is a numbered system that refers to the nine different types or styles, with each representing a worldview and archetype that resonates with the way people think, feel and act in relation to the world, others and themselves.”
Fearful of a test that, yet again, reminded me what a control freak I am. I seriously shied away from jumping on the Enneagram bandwagon. A good friend bribed me to take the test at our standing dollar sushi night, so with sticky soy-sauce napkins piled high and stray edamame wiped clean from the table, I learned all about the Enneagram. Never in my dreams did I expect this post-sushi typology quiz to change my life and my work, but it did.
After reading a great deal about my personality type, I learned that I am naturally prone to perform well at certain things, and not so well at others. While it may seem like common sense, I still spent far too many years of my life striving in ALL areas. As a “Type 1,” I’m considered a stereotypical type-a personality who works till they drop. Often bringing loads of work home and not choosing positive methods of self-care, burnout has always been a real issue in my life. Understanding my personality helped me to instead channel my energy into using what I am good at for the benefit of the team, and asking way more questions about tasks that brought me anxiety, instead of trying to deal with everything on my own.
The Enneagram details levels of growth or “health” for each type. Studying this list was uncomfortable. As much as I would have preferred my thoughts and behaviors to be in the healthiest category, they weren’t. This is where I saw the real magic take place. I now knew what I could look like at my best. Not a version of myself constructed from comparison or idealism, but a real, solid, attainable, me. I took this seriously when it came to my work and began leaning into these qualities. The system said at a healthy level I am excellent at wisely discerning solutions to difficult problems, so I took confidence in knowing I was capable of this and began to practice regularly. Over time I saw myself grow! I was taking on things I wouldn’t have before, reaching out to others with confidence, and starting to resemble above-average levels of health. Having these goals made me feel purposeful and at home in my own life.
As I grew to know a better version of myself, I realized what brought me the most sense of meaning in my work. The Enneagram described me as a “teacher, crusader, and advocate; always looking to improve things but not afraid to make a mistake.” I knew this was true from experience, so I sought out opportunities at work that allowed me to operate in these roles whether that meant taking on more responsibility or backing off in-order feel most useful and purposeful. I begin to speak aloud at work about how I am the advocate for specific initiatives, or offer to teach others how to use a new program I’d been proud to master. Even though the work on its own may have been dull, sharing with others, championing, and mentoring made me feel excited to come to work each day.
Oprah Winfrey says, “You get out of life what you have the courage to ask for.” I think until now I just wasn’t sure what to ask.
If you are interested in using the Enneagram as a tool to grow your career or personal life here are some links to get you started:
TAKE THE TEST:
READ ABOUT YOUR TYPE:
And don’t be afraid to share with us what you learned about yourself!