The Enneagram was originally conceived as an outgrowth of spiritual direction. It is a tool for spiritual growth. I am a theologian so I don’t use technical terms – I know where they came from and why they need translation.
The support from a trained person was originally a “spiritual director.” In the industrial countries, spiritual usually means somehow now physical, so I don’t particularly like that term. But coaching can include both, and when done right, does.
So I’m going to borrow from our book and delineate the arc of growth for each style. Here’s style One:
Style One moves from seeing only what’s wrong to developing
nuance, options; key patterns to transform:
1. compares reality to what ought to be
2. thinks in black and white,
3. defends with reaction formation (criticizing what you
4. becomes judgmental under pressure.
When we talk about how Nines focus, we have to be clear. If by focus you mean a pinpoint looking-at-one-thing, then Nines don’t really focus. Their natural way of seeing is all sides at once, more like a flood light than a laser (style 3) or strobe light (style 7).
But in the sense of “looking for” as I have described, Nines are looking for peace and harmony. They try to bring all the sides of a situation into a coherent whole. When they succeed, they are wonderful negotiators. When they can’t bring about harmony through negotiation, they often will not be able to act–they can’t get what they’re really looking for.
Eights have a prevailing focus on power. Power is contextual, however, in a classroom one form, on the field, another. But Eights see the world as a battlefield and the forms of power are whatever forms of power prevail on that particular battleground.
The most common forms of power preferred by Eights, in my experience are the external forms: physical, financial or social. Intellectual and esthetic competence are appreciated but in a secondary way.
While style Threes focus like a laser, style Sevens focus more like a strobe light.
Sevens focus on what grabs their attention. We are a sucker for bright shiny things. Sevens look for what is new and exciting and try to cram as many things and experiences into a day as they can.
Well, good news, especially for Sixes but by extension, Fives, Sixes and Sevens.
Some research on Psy Blog gives some of the good aspects of being anxious. The one that is most apparent to me is the amount of trust other people feel around Sixes. You might assume that if Sixes are naturally suspicious, people will be suspicious of them. Not so. Many Sixes report being trusted and I know a lot of Sixes and they just seem soooo believable.
Sixes focus on security. They like to belong to groups (and are fiercely loyal), they usually scan the environment and look for what is dangerous, what can go wrong and what their group is thinking. They give their power to authority, either hierarchical or group and then feel afraid.
They are often very able to act with considerable courage because they know how to deal with their fear. They often are highly disciplined because then their competence makes them secure.
Style Five focuses on information. Specifically information that can be understood conceptually/rationally. They are keen observers. My son, a 5, was working in a convenience store while attending college. He was held up at gunpoint. The police, after getting the information, told him they had never seen such a complete and accurate description of a criminal. Even at gunpoint, style 5s get all the information. (Yes, they caught the guy within two hours. 🙂
Style 4 focuses on their own inner feelings. Whereas style One might look at some rules or a Three might long for applause, style 4s derive their identity from how they feel. So they evaluate experience according to how it made them feel. This focus on subjective experience makes them acutely aware of fashion or any aesthetic discernment. It can also lead to self-absorption.
When we consider focus as not only what we look at, but what we look for, then style Two could be described as looking for ways to help people.
When strong, style Two helps without really counting the cost, but when not on their game, they help others so that others will love and even help them. You might say that healthy undefended Twos give gifts. Unhealthy Twos make emotional investments, expect a return.