The more often we do something, the easier it gets. That’s true for physical tasks, but also for mental ones. Here’s where our Enneagram style enters. The more often we have an automatic Enneagram response to something, the easier it gets. So our Enneagram style works better all the time.
For example, if a style Two gains love by serving, he learns how to ferret out situations, people, and places where serving works the best. As he serves, he gets better at it. As he gets better it, the rewards get better. As they get better, he focuses on what works best –he’s no dummy — and he is successful.
The only thing he misses is the other ways of finding love.
The two most common currencies in our life are money and attention. On our TV screens we can pay with money (pay per view) or attention (to ads).
Attention, like our money, is a currency and it is limited. We can only pay attention to one thing at a time. (Multi-tasking is possible only if one of the things don’t require attention. Try to do math in your head while navigating traffic). What we pay attention to says as much about us as what we spend our money on.
One way we can weaken the hold our Enneagram style has on us is to be conscious of what we pay attention to. If we are not aware of how we focus our attention, our Enneagram style is our default position. Long before we decide what to do, we should decide what we will pay attention to. Our Enneagram style is our attention habits of which are are only vaguely to subliminally aware.
Our Enneagram style starts with a focus of attention, but it isn’t only what we’re looking at, it is what we are looking for – what we want to give our attention to.
If you life feels like a battle at times, those times are when you will value having a style Eight in your corner. Eights have a keen sense of justice and will spend the energy, enthusiasm and time or money to try to get justice done. They can be the knights in shining armor: energetic, principled and just.
My sister, Sheila was an inspiration for this song Karen and I wrote about eights.
If you need a new idea, you might consider a style 7. Many corporations do something called “brainstorming,” a simple exercise in which you just list all the options to a situation you can think of without criticism; then after listing them all, as a separate function, you evaluate and prioritize. Sevens create options as a lifestyle, so if you can only see one way out of a situation, ask a 7 friend for another way to look at it.
I love to watch basketball. The announcers often describe a certain type of player as “glue guy.” This is the player that understands how the system works and unselfishly devotes himself to making the other players better. These guys are probably Sixes. Sixes make systems work. They can make bureaucracies function, they keep the home fires burning and make the whole team work better. When I ask questions to make sure I have identified someone as a Six, I ask them “Do you know the birthday date of your immediate family?” Sixes, with only one exception out of dozens of inquiries, all know. Even the men. Their loyalty makes them great BFFs!
“When cooler heads prevail,” is a consummation devoutly to be wished. If that is your desire, you need a healthy Style 5. Fives are cooly rational and for that reason their ability to make considered objective decision is a real asset to a family, team, or community. They won’t be rushed, they consider every bit of information available and then make a reflective decision. Every leader should listen to a Five counselor.
Fours excel in the interior world of emotional intensity: music, fashion, poetry and the person who understands you better than you understand yourself. If/when you’re in pain, for example, a healthy Four is your best friend: they don’t run away from pain and they feel what you feel. Their emotional/intellectual discrimination allows them to understand you exactly.
Healthy Threes work hard for love. You have heard it said that we do things “for love or money.” Threes are at their best when they combine them. Threes work for sometimes a clear and sometimes a mixed desire to earn love. They love applause and high salaries, but healthy Threes work primarily for love. They are not sentimental; some love has to be earned in this life.
Following our virtues of Faith, hope and love, Twos exemplify love. When Twos offer help or listen with intense interest and put your needs first in their life, they are affirming that life is, after all, about love and the search for it. They are intuitive experts in the art of relationship because they focus on the quality of their relationships most of the time.
Why are Ones critical? Many reasons, but one of them is they hope to make things better. Ones are often misunderstood when they criticize — people don’t see that Ones criticize out of hope for change. Like all of the body types, they can feel their anger as an energy to make things better. Besides this, though, Ones hope in the power of moral persuasion. When they seek the moral high ground, it is an implicit act of hope that moral authority instead of physical might will carry the day.