It’s Reached the Zeitgeist…
A few years ago I came to the realization that I should get some professional counseling. And by “realization” I mean it was heavily suggested by some other leaders within the church in which I was on staff. It was a great suggestion. I was glad I was humble enough, or maybe broken enough, to try it.
The first thing my new counselor had me do was take an Enneagram Test. I’ve done a lot of these personality evaluations. I really like them. I think psychology is fascinating. Whether it’s the DISC Test, the Myers-Briggs, or PDP, I’ve taken it and really liked the process.
None of these tests and even professional evaluations that followed did for me what the Enneagram and my counselor did for me, my heart, my relationships, and my leadership. I was blown away with our session. This counselor who had met me only once over the phone was telling me about me in deep ways. My motivations were being exposed. My fear was on display. And most importantly, my self-awareness increased because I found what was now missing that had mostly been present.
I didn’t start off being a jerk of a leader. I got there over time. A time where something was missing that I really needed. Now, that “missing piece” hasn’t been found or replaced, but I am more aware it’s gone and the problems it causes with me by being absent.
Within the last year and a half I’ve begun to hear more and more about the Enneagram in mainstream culture. Podcasts are talking about it. Authors and speakers and leaders are promoting it. For whatever reason, it’s in the stream of consciousness and I think it’s only going to grow. This is a good thing, but…
Here’s where the “but” comes in…
The more something like this popularizes, the more it tends to get watered down. People misuse and abuse it. Deep self-awareness turns into shallow stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and others based on their “number,” “type,” or other descriptor. The more I hear people discuss this powerful tool for social interaction, the more worried I am that we will lose it at any real level.
I had the good fortune of being guided through this evaluation. I had a professional share hard truths without tearing me down. This man told me how unique my make-up is without also creating an arrogant spirit in me. This was important. It was a healthy, healing process. I wasn’t characterized or mis-characterized. I was nurtured and helped.
Without professional guidance I can see this wonderful tool that has helped, me and my wife and our marriage and friends and loved ones, reduced to short, simple descriptors used to build ourselves up and tear others down. The life-giving self-awareness developed through this resource can and will be destroyed if we aren’t careful to protect its depth.
Maybe you’re interested. I hope you are. It’s the best of these types of tools I’ve ever seen. But I’d like to give some simple road signs, tips, and cautions for you as you move forward…
- Take a good test. You can find anything online and you can find the “quickest” version of it as well. Don’t short-change yourself by taking a speedy evaluation. Find a good one. One that makes you think. One that takes time. One certified by someone who knows what they are doing.
- Find a guide. If at all possible, find someone to guide you through your results. Pay for it if you can. Search a person out with expertise. This way you’ll get a full scope response to your test results.
- Listen and learn from the best. One great thing about the popularity of the Enneagram is the number of qualified people who are writing about it and speaking about it in deep, meaningful ways. Here’s a few I suggest; Father Richard Rohr, Ian Morgan Cron, and Shauna Niequist.
- Examine yourself deeply before labeling others. Understanding is important. If not you’ll tend to misuse the Enneagram and abuse others with the “non-resourceful” aspects of their “type.” This is unwise, unloving, and rooted in ignorance. Let’s not be ignorant if we can help it.
Let’s get a conversation going. Have you taken the Enneagram? What’s your score? How has this helped you? Join the discussion!