The high side of style Three is their ability to fit into a wide variety of systems and make those systems work. If you have a clear idea of what you want to succeed at, a style Three by your side is the best working companion you can ask for. They stick to tasks – they focus like a laser. And they are willing to do both the grunt work and the high-profile work, as long as they can see it is going to get to the goal.
If you would like to be a good Three, just read some books on time management. They are almost all written by Threes with advice on how to be a good Three. (That’s why they don’t help most of us…but they do tell you how to succeed. )
The high side of two is frequently appreciated, especially if you are bit insecure. When Twos are healthy they see you for who you really are. They are not impressed with title, rank or fiscal worth. They have a lovely gift for appreciating and relating directly to you with or without warts. If you are in emotional distress, they have an inner radar that knows just how you feel, see you directly-correctly and then perform emotional heart surgery.
One of the problems with our reductionist scientific culture (only physical things are real) is that psychological patterns get called by physical names. In his new book, Biology of Desire
Marc Lewis acknowledges that the disease model has its uses, he generally believes that the rationale behind it is insufficient and, in many ways, completely false. Instead, we should view addiction as an issue of habit. This doesn’t preclude it from being a problem — of development, perhaps — but to call it a disease can actually be counterproductive and hinder many addicts from recovery, he says.
This is really important not only from a philosophical point of view, but for practical coaching. Every Enneagram style has an addictive component. As a full time member of the 5/6/7 “head-centered” triad, I’m “addicted” to information. All three types are. We use information instead of action, we use information where emotional support would work better etc. And when we get an idea, in my case, especially new ones because I do style 7, we get a jolt of dopamine – a rush of pleasure. Minor, most of the time, compared to Merlot, finding money or illicit sex, but strong enough to make us lose sleep, ignore regular meals or be on first names with the librarians in three counties.
So when we meet with resistance to softening our Enneagram style, realize we are not helpless — we aren’t faced with a biologically determined (and therefore only fixed by chemistry). We are dealing with a habit not requiring medical intervention. We can use the usual tools to weaken, redirect, modify or otherwise edit a habit. That doesn’t make change easy: it does promise possibility.
An Enneagram style is a way of dealing with life. In some sense it is a speciality. So let’s took at some of high sides of our Enneagram style. Our Enneagram fixations are always an excess of what is right or the application of a great tool in the wrong way, like pounding with a pliers because that’s what is at hand or trying to reason with a hungry man because information is all you think you have to offer.
So: style One. Ones should be grateful for the excellent work they have done, the sincere and strenuous search for integrity. If Ones ruled the world, law and order would prevail and virtue would be rewarded more than charm, connections, unfair advantages or simple dumb luck.
While we’re on the topic of Ones, the attention being given to Harper Lee over Atticus Finch being a racist points out how much we like virtuous people who do not yield to pressures of varying kinds. Atticus Finch is a One.
You’ve heard expressions like “You’re acting like a two year old,” or “act your age,” etc. These linguistic insights are quite accurate at times. Our Enneagram style is a younger part of ourselves. Certain things trigger young responses. We can all sing the songs we heard in our teen age years and we feel young as we do it. Other young behavior is not quite as pleasant.
So here are several exercises for you. When you feel in the grip of your Enneagram style, how old do you feel?
The next time you are at a party in which social solvents are served (BYOB), notice the age to which people regress. Some become infantile (tantrums, tears and unguarded affection), others are merely adolescent (flirtation > seduction) others become 4th grade bullies etc. It is also a good way to discern Enneagram styles: they act them out in high relief!
Have a good time!
With all this attention on Bruce/Caytlan Jenner, I just have to comment that Bruce was an intimate 3 – the perfect image of a manly man.
Some people wondered why, when Jenner became female he went all the way to a “pinup” female. Well, that’s what occurs to an intimate style Three.
So the moral of the story is, it is easier to change your gender than your Enneagram style!
I’m back from vacation. I was in a different environment and became aware of what a changed environment did to me.
When I read about coaching, the focus is, understandably, on one’s personal power. But in the context of America’s rugged individualism, environment frequently gets overlooked as a powerful influence and an effective tool for change and growth. First we create an environment and then the environment creates us.
So it would be an interesting Enneagram exercise to look at your environment and see to what extent it takes advantage of your enneagram style and to what extent it frustrates the longings of the high side of your style. If you are a Four, is there much chance for in-depth connections? If you are a Five, is your environment intellectually stimulating or rich? If you are an eight, do you get to exercise personal power?
One of the effective ways to make personal change is to modify your environment. Change the light, the distances you move, the times you do things, the people you interact with…even the clothes you wear. As a high school teacher, I can tell you that “dress up day” made the students behave in intermittently mature ways! It is easier to change your environment than the way you feel about it.