The Enneagram of Waking Up

When I first heard of the enneagram I wasn’t interested in it.  I had so many Neuro-linguistic programming techniques and distinctions I didn’t suspect that I could use more.  But I wasn’t to get away that easy.  Given my line of work, the wake-up business, people I respected mentioned the enneagram.  Finally, at a Chi Kung workshop I met an enneagram teacher.  He was a few years older than me, balding, stout and looked a bit more like a construction worker than the therapist he was.

He rather quickly identified me as an enneagram 8.  I learned a lot about myself as, like a horoscope, I tended to mold my perceptions of myself to fit his descriptions of the 8.  It wasn’t until over a year later that I discovered I wasn’t an 8 at all and that he was more certain about his enneagram skills than he was accurate. I still benefited from being labeled as an eight, because I learned things about myself in the process. I learned what I wasn’t first and then discovered what I was.

I benefited because he peaked my interest in the enneagram, his misdiagnosis inspired me to bring in this so called expert to do a segment of one of my workshops and it provided just what I needed, huge enneagram curiosity, to discover both what number I am, a 1, and how I could utilize the abundant distinctions of the enneagram to assist people in getting to know themselves.

As I explained, early on I discovered that the importance of the “right” enneagram label is less relevant than the exploration of oneself using enneagram distinctions. I also began observing myself and others through enneagram distinctions and learned a lot in the process.

Thirty some years ago when I attended my first NLP(neuro-linguistic programming) course I quickly discovered that the participants really didn’t integrate what they were learning into their lives.  They treated what was taught as facts not as tools for personal and interpersonal exploration that were to be tested and explored.  To my surprise the teachers didn’t know the personal power of what they were teaching either.  They taught NLP as a body of knowledge rather than a tool for enlightenment and living in the present.  While some of my many NLP teachers could get rid of a phobia quickly they didn’t know NLP was a tool for being present and awakening.

The same thing proved true of the enneagram.  A couple of years ago I went to an enneagram workshop by one of the foremost authorities in the enneagram.  He seemed as stuck within the confines of his number as the participants.  The participants actually seemed a little better off because they weren’t even sure what in the world their numbers were. I went out to lunch with five of the participants I had never met before.  They didn’t discern the enneagram of our waiter or the people at the next table or even of each other.  They asked what my number was rather than trying to figure it out.  In other words they opted for knowing rather than learning. Anywhere and everywhere I go I figure out people’s enneagram, even on the phone or reading an author.  While I may be “wrong” about their number I get to learn in the process of discernment and bring the enneagram to every aspect of my life. I asked several participants about the enneagrams of their parents:  not a clue.  Using the enneagram provides useful information and loads of learning.

Pete Seeger used to say that before you can really make music with a banjo you have to learn to play around with it and have fun. I think the same thing is true with the enneagram.  Play around with it, have some fun, make some wonderful mistakes and learn about yourself and the people around you. Avoid the experts in your initial play because they tend to teach what they know.  Play!

Curiousity killed the cat and made the human’s life worth living.


For insights on how to use the enneagram to improve your life visit:

Dave’s Enneagram

Painting by Number: Using the Enneagram in Everyday Life

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Nathan July 19, 2011 at 5:02 am

I think it’s interesting that you are – or type yourself as a one. I’ve read a couple of your books a while back, and have followed you off and on. Based on my observations I would say you are a 3,6, or possibly a seven. I’m basing this partially from the Myers Briggs personality test. From the MBTI I would say you are definatly an ENT_. I’m going with ENTP. Myers Briggs doesn’t directly relate to the enneagram but it sometimes leaves clues. One’s are usually the _STJ tpes. They are the types that walk into a house and notice how everything is out of place..and sometimes start tidying up. But you could be a one I guess.


Nathan July 19, 2011 at 7:56 pm

I thought about it a little more and if you are an ENTJ you’ve probably typed yourself correctly as an Enneagram one. ENTJs are commonly 8′s, 1′s, 3′s, and occasionally 6′s. I’m pretty sure you are an ENT_. I read the book Spiritual Sedection about 6 years ago, and I remember alot of crazy funny stuff in the book that had me laughing. Alot of the stuff from that book had me thinking that only an ENTP/ Enneagram 7 with a 6 wing could come up with.


Jerry July 20, 2011 at 11:14 am

Nice. As an enneagram 1, I move to 7 when I’m healthy. I think the relationship between myers-briggs and the enneagram is fascinating. I wonder if there is any information you could share.


Nathan July 21, 2011 at 2:55 am

I’m not an Enneagram or Myers Briggs expert or anything. I just find myself researching this stuff alot on the internet. This isn’t always a good thing. As an INTP enneagram 5 I find myself using thus stuff as a distraction alot of times instead of doing more important things which could improve my life. Alot of times I wish I was an Enneagram 8 that could just plow through things and get stuff done all day. I think people frequently mistype their enneagram type, as opposed to their Myers Briggs type.

When typing people I think it’s useful to use both. I think I’m a better Myers Briggs typer – but there are alot of occasions where enneagram typing is easier. I guess they’re both just 2 useful but different tools to understand people better. Sometimes you find odd pairings with the 2 systems. For example I’m pretty sure my dad is an ENTP enneagram 6. He seems to worry alot..And would always tell me and my brother to “be careful” all the time when growing up. I’m convinced he’s an ENTP but comes across alot different than his ENTP enneagram 7 brother.

Two tools that I find useful as a 5 are The Sedona Method and Spring Forest Qigong. When I stay in release with the Sedona Method..I find myself staying in the moment…It allows me to get stuff done because when constantly releasing it’s impossible to have patterns that don’t serve you because you are witnessing them. Also when I’m in the moment I feel more connected to my body and not stuck in my head..Probably what an 8 feels like. Which is good for a 5. Also the Spring Forest Qigong keeps me grounded, calm, and disease free.

So what is your Myers Briggs type? I previously said ENT_ as 2 guesses. But I want to add one more. Possibly an ENFJ?


Nathan July 26, 2011 at 2:01 am

I guess you don’t want to divuldge your MBTI type. Last week I bought the shortened audio book version of Think and Grow Rich and have been listening to it reapeateadly while driving. By applying its principals I think my enneagram tritype has changed. By nature I think I’m a 5/9/4…But after Think and Grow Rich I feel more like a 5/8/3. My lazy 9 isn’t as lazy, and my unusual 4 feels more success oriented like a 3. I don’t feel myself using the sedona releasing as much though..But I feel when I use the Think and Grow Rich principals I’m still releasing through patterns, but in a more aggressive way.


Stephen Hawking August 31, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Wow, that’s alot of ‘Nathan Said’. I think we need to loosin’ up the cencorship here and let someone else speak?


Billy April 21, 2014 at 8:31 am

Thiss is a goo tip especially too those new tto the blogosphere.Short but veey
precise information… Many thanks for sharing thius one.
A must read article!


Jerry April 21, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Thanks Billy.


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