Steve Jobs is an influential Four. One part of his achievement was to make computers beautiful. (Not just the box. Think about his contribution to typefaces, a favorite of mine). I think that Fours understand the power of beauty exceptionally well. Their esthetic tastes and their sensitivity seem to help them understand the power of beauty.
So I think that part of Steve Jobs’ success was because of his awareness that he had to make Apple products beautiful. The ipod was not the first mp3 player on the market, but it was the “coolest.” I forget the name of the book that was dedicated to how Jobs made “cool” the defining factor of the ipod. By way of comparison, Motorola, a very oneish company, has stuff that works well but their market share was hurt because their stuff was clunky.
Unhealthy side of six is displayed by Mel Gibson. The loyalty sixes are loved for can morph into “our group is the only group” and becomes hated of other groups. In Gibson’s case he is fiercely fundamentalist Catholic (rigid, conservative, literal) and is anti-Semitic.
The high side of Six would be Paul Newman: despite legendary good looks faithful to his wife. He is counterphobic – loved to race cars until his racing/driving partner got killed (I talked to his partner 20 mins before the fatal race). Newman’s loyalty and sense of community led him to be an admirable philanthropist and all around good guy businessman.
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com is an enormously influential Seven. Like a lot of Sevens, he is a visionary. He saw it first, got there first and was able to hire structure people to make it work. Bezos was a billionaire before he traded in his old Honda. Healthy Sevens often scorn hierarchies and the trappings of wealth and privilege. That attitude stems from a cheerful lack of concern about hierarchy of any kind. I aw him interviewed and he came across as light-hearted and funny. (He has a really peculiar laugh, too).
Ernest Hemingway is an influential style 8. His direct, no-nonsense, limpid, earthy prose changed the way Americans write. The abstract, intellectual prose of the continent never quite recovered except in the sheltered groves of academia. Hemingway’s writing is the high side of style 8– a deep appreciation for the physical, an ability to appreciate and communicate a healthy sensuality. He had a lust for life and an ability to stare directly into pain and pleasure and make the reader feel it. Unlike European writers, he had a deep appreciation for nature and wilderness.His personal life had some of the downside of style 8. He was belligerent, brutal and eventually turned his anger on himself and killed himself.
I’m starting another series, this one on influential people. Not celebrities, I have little interest in most of them. I will write about people who influenced the thought and behavior of a large number of people.
Let’s start with style Nines. Besides the style Nine presidents of Obama, Clinton, Reagan, Ford, Eisenhower and Lincoln, the founder of Client-centered therapy, Carl Rogers. He is a Nine. His therapy of unconditional regard and non-directive is the high side of style Nine. If you study psychology or therapy, he is someone you will get to know.
Style Nines eat to anesthetize themselves. They put themselves to sleep with food. They are especially prone to overeat in the face of conflict. Nines are called peacemakers at times for a reason. They love peace and tranquility. If they can’t achieve peace, they eat not to experience the lack of it.
When style eights eat for non-hunger reasons, they are usually stoking their furnace to get more power. At buffets they often eat way too much just to feel large and powerful. Eating is richly symbolic and Eights eat for symbolic dominance and power. They also love excess – it feels exuberant and expansive.
One form of contemporary scientific reductionism, as Wilbur calls it is the merging of the word “true,” with “literal,” and not only bible fundamentalists do this. A quote from psychologist James Hillman suffices:
When Frost speaks of a dreary kind of “grammatical prose” and Thoreau of the language of “common sense,” they are warning about the deadening effect of literal language…in fact Thoreau insists that to stay with only with this restricted language produces “brain rot.”
When someone does something “irrational,”–that is, something that doesn’t make complete sense, then you have a marvelous chance to see if that action is a metaphor for their Enneagram style. It may not be, individual history may be prominent, but when you see a pattern that you can explain, you are most likely putting together a number of actions that are symbolic. That’s why I don’t use “traits” to describe a style; that is too literal. A cluster of actions and emotions that can be metaphorical expressions of an enneagram style is what we look for. That’s why discerning an enneagram style is an art, not a science. It is reading the poetry of the behavior, not the surface behavior.
And tweets don’t help at all.
When Sevens eat for neurotic reasons, they usually eat for escape. The escape can be from boredom or from some kind of pain – emotional or physical. Sugar is especially attractive to Sevens because it is both comfort food and pleasure (we have twice as many taste receptors for sugar than any other taste). Many Sevens hurry through the main meal to get to the deserts.
Yesterday I taught a guitar student who seems to have a bit of attention problem. He will look at me with expectation and while I’m telling him what to do, he will play some other song. No hostility, it isn’t done out of rebellion. So yesterday I told him the exercise I wanted. When he played another riff I just said, “When you’re ready, try this. He played a little longer, then paused and did what I asked. It was as though he had some neurological agenda he had to finish before he could do what both of us actually wanted.
Our enneagram ego functions like that. I will do whatever is required as soon as I meet my enneagram agenda. So when you tell me to do my work, I will, as soon as my Enneagram agenda is satisfied – in my case as a 7 it has to be interesting and I would prefer that it gave me new information. Sometimes it is sequential, other times it is simply a prerequisite. I will do good hard work when it fits my Enneagram agenda.
The parallel is the old story of the Chinese master who said he would teach the eager student by inviting him over for tea. When the student showed up, he poured the tea until the cup was overflowing. The student asked why he did that. The master replied that the student was doing the same – asked for teaching when he was “full of himself.”
So coaching someone requires both an awareness that the person has an agenda and an understanding of how to merge his advice with that agenda and at the same time giving support to weakening that (largely unconscious) agenda.