Divided we fall – 5

The starting point for style Five is the belief that they just don’t have the resources they need. They address this problem in two ways: all or nothing. Some want it all: David Koch was asked (he is worth about 40 billion) how much money did he want. His answer: “I want it all.”

The other solution is to want very little, practically nothing. Here you have the hermits or the little ole lady who dies in a one-room shack with millions in the bank.

“Some” is good.

Divided we fall – 4

The polarization I’ve seen among Fours is around acceptance. When Fours feel connected with someone, they introject that person, feeling the person inside themselves. (For a visual of that, see the musician, Salieri,in the movie, Amadeus.

On the bleak and other side, Fours can feel like they are from another planet, emotionally disconnected from everyone and everything. I’ve had several Fours actually use that phrase, “I feel like I’m from another planet.”

Divided we fall -3

Style Three is hard to discern in the USA. It is protective coloration because our culture has so many Style 3 problems.

Style Three is polarized between success and failure. When Dick Cheney defended torture “because it works” he invoked the low side of Three– “you can’t argue with success.”

When polarized Threes are workaholics, they are equally obsessed with being number One and frightened of failure. Polarized Threes will reframe failure as “a learning experience,” rather than admit failure.

I was auditioning to teach the Enneagram to a large corporation. The interviewer was an ex- marine; he told me that before enlarging on his self-disclosure that “I don’t know the meaning of failure.” I was cowardly. I was applying for a job, but I should have asked him how his diet was coming along; he had about a 56 inch waistline. He could not see failure when he carried it with him.

Divided we fall – 2

Many people are surprised at the word used to describe the compulsive helping of style Two. It is pride. How is helping related to pride.

The pride is that style Two sees themselves as strong and helping (after all, it IS better to give than receive) but sees others are needing, perhaps even depending on them.

So when Twos polarize, they do not acknowledge their own needs and magnify the needs of others. The polarized thinking is that if I meet one set of needs, I must ignore the other’s. Twos, when polarized, meet the needs of others. And if you look closely, they meet their own needs in others. Classic easy example: I’m hungry, so I feed you and as long as your eating, perhaps I’ll join, just to be polite.

My favorite is the mother, when cold, makes her children put on more clothes because she is sure they are going to freeze.

Divided we fall

One of the common mistakes each Enneagram trance makes is what psychologists call polarization. Polarization within an individual is facing a reality and dividing into opposites that in some sense depend on each other. Someone who is polarized around work might say “I am unemployed because I don’t want to be a workaholic.” Or “I don’t assert what I want because I hate pushy people.”

So I’ll talk a bit about each of the styles from my point of view as a coach. If I can help someone experience the polarity, then they can become more real.

Let’s start with style One. Style Ones often polarize between duty and pleasure, especially sensual pleasure. You can see that written large in American society. We get a lot of our attitudes from Puritanism. So when Janet Jackson displayed a nipple during the Superbowl a few years ago, moral outrage reached high decibels throughout the land. But Netflix admits by far their most lucrative category is pornography.

A favorite poem by Mary Oliver has a palliative:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
(New and Selected Poems, Vol I)


We all have a model of the universe. It is our understanding of what is real, what is true, what is important. Fives give proportionally more credence in information and less in relationships than Twos. Both agree information and relationships are important, but their relative value is quite different. That difference makes a qualitative difference in their lives.

So what happens if we are confronted with experience or information that conflicts with our model of the universe?

Naomi Klein has a wonderful book, This Changes Everything in which she states:

It is always easier to deny reality than to allow our worldview to be shattered.

To allow a larger reality than our tight Enneagram construction is the foundation for change and growth.

It worked before

One of the worst feelings we have is helplessness. And experience, especially if prolonged, that makes us feel helpless is a source of severe stress.That is one reason we keep repeating our Enneagram habits: they worked at one time in our life and gave us a feeling of control.

So when we are faced with a situation we want to control, we use those habits that served us so well in the past. Those habits are a big part of our Enneagram inner structure. This need for control is also why our Enneagram patterns become more vivid and obvious under stress.

An interesting way of loosening our Enneagram habits, if they are not serving us well, is to ask if we can think of alternate ways of controlling a situation.

If you are a Three and your habitual MO is to work hard, you might explore another option. A Six might explore what would happen if they stopped caring a bit about what the group thinks and an Eight might explore what would happen if she shared power instead of consolidating it.


All Enneagram teachers, live and in books, begin with the component of focus.

I think it helpful for you to think of focus and add the notion of hunger. Focus is not only what we look at, it is what we look for.

The next time you enter a book store, go on line with no definite purpose or walk into a room full of people, or walk through a mall, become aware of what you might be looking for. Is it entertainment or community or information or something to help you survive or or or? How does that relate to your Enneagram style? (Caution: a personal crisis will, of course, over-ride your habitual focus. If I’m bleeding, I will only look for help).

Here’s a tip I use when I teach a class or seminar. I tell the group to write down what they want to learn. I know that no matter what I see, they will go looking for and find what they came to learn. I can’t lose, because they always learn. This is technically known as Enneagram karate. Some call it manipulation, but any teacher worth his or her salt knows that good teaching employs every manipulation they can to help students learn.


I’m borrowing this from Quora. Someone asked a question about how to motivate.
Our Enneagram style is primarily about motivation, not behavior, so knowing how to motivate yourself outside of your Enneagram preferences is important. We usually have the motivation to do what our style prefers, (Sevens seek novelty, Eights power and Fives information, for examples). Here’s how to expand your motivation into other areas.

What are the best tricks to keep yourself motivated?
Everyone has a list of not-so-exciting tasks (personal or work related) that he or she needs to get through. How do you motivate yourself to get to these and not procrastinate? 😐

In 2009, Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson made a surprising discovery in the science of motivation. She conducted a series of studies where she asked participants to solve a set of puzzles and problems. In one group — the “be-good” group — participants were told that their score reflected their “conceptual and analytical abilities.” They should try to solve as many problems as possible and aim for a high score to demonstrate how good they were. In another group — the “get-better” group — participants were told that each problem was a “training tool” and that they ought to “take advantage of this valuable learning opportunity” to improve their problem-solving skills. [1]

For some participants in each group, Halvorson also increased the difficulty level by introducing a few challenges. She interrupted participants to use up some of their allotted time. She threw in extra, unsolvable problems to frustrate them, without telling participants that the problems were unsolvable.

What surprised Halvorson was how the two groups dealt with the challenges. The ones in the “get-better” group remained unfazed and solved as many as problems in the challenging conditions as the easy ones. They stayed motivated and kept trying to learn. The ones in the “be-good” group, however, were so demoralized when they faced the challenges and obstacles that they solved substantially fewer problems than those who didn’t have to face them.

And those differences happened just because of how the initial goal was framed.