Personal, Recommendation

A Brief Description of the Enneagram

I have long been a fan of Myers-Briggs, and I talk frequently about being an INFJ on this blog, but I am totally having an affair with the Enneagram personality type system.

The Enneagram “teaches that there are nine different personality styles, one of which we naturally gravitate toward and adopt in childhood to cope and feel safe. Each type has a distinct worldview and an underlying motivation that powerfully influences how that type thinks, feels and behaves. Unlike other personality typing systems, the Enneagram shows us who we are at both our best and worst and suggests ways we can relax our grip on the self-defeating behaviors that prevent us from becoming our best, most authentic selves” (found here).

I’ll describe the basic characteristics of the nine types based upon information found here and here, and if this is at all interesting to you, I encourage you to take the test online and find out your type!


Type Ones are The Reformers, part of the instinctive center, and they are principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionistic.  Their worldview is: “The world is an imperfect place.  I work toward improvement.”  Their basic desire is to be right and their basic fear is of being condemned.

Type Twos are The Helpers, part of the feeling center, and they are generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing, and possessive.  Their worldview is: “People depend on my help.  I am needed.”  Their basic desire is to be loved, and their basic fear is of being unloved.

Type Threes are The Achievers or Motivators, part of the feeling center, and they are adaptable, excelling, driven, and image-conscious.  Their worldview is: “The world values a champion.  Avoid failure at all costs.”  Their basic desire is to be admired, and their basic fear is of being rejected.

Type Fours (me!) are The Individualists or The Romantics, part of the feeling center, and they are expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental.  Their worldview is: “Something’s missing.  Others have it.  I’m different from them because I don’t.”  Their basic desire is to understand themselves, and their basic fear is of being defective.

Type Fives are The Investigators or The Thinkers, part of the thinking center, and they are perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated.  Their worldview is: “The world is invasive and confusing.  I need privacy to think.”  Their basic desire is to understand the world, and their basic fear is of being overwhelmed by the world.

Type Sixes are The Loyalists or The Skeptics, part of the thinking center, and they are engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious.  Their worldview is: “The world is a threatening place.  I need to look to authority, but I question it.”  Their basic desire is to be secure, and their basic fear is of being abandoned.

Type Sevens are The Enthusiasts, part of the thinking center, and they are spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive, and scattered.  Their worldview is: “The world is full of opportunity and options.  I look forward to the future.”  Their basic desire is to be happy, and their basic fear is of being deprived.

Type Eights are The Challengers or The Leaders, part of the instinctive center, and they are self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational.  Their worldview is: “The world is an unjust place.  I am strong and I defend the innocent.”  Their basic desire is to be self-reliant, and their basic fear is of submitting to others.

Type Nines are The Peacemakers, part of the instinctive center, and they are receptive, reassuring, complacent, and resigned.  Their worldview is: “My efforts won’t matter to the world.  It’s best to keep the peace.”  Their basic desire is to find union and peace, and their basic fear is of separation.


I will probably be talking about myself as a Four more often on this blog (although I already have here and here, so this introduction is overdue!), so hopefully this provided some context for when I start labeling myself with a bunch of numbers.

If you know your type, I’d love to hear what it is and how you feel about it!  Drop me a note in the comments below.

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4 thoughts on “A Brief Description of the Enneagram”

  1. Well, I took the challenge and did the on-line Enneagram test, the 14 page version. It tells me I am a Type 1 wing 2 or a Type 1 wing 9. Third choice is Type 2 wing 1. I don’t know what to think of this, it is probably fairly accurate. Now what do I do next?

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    1. Did you read descriptions of Type 1 people (more than my short tag line)? The enneagram institute has a lot of great information, including descriptions of what you’re like at your healthiest and unhealthiest. It can help you identify when you’re doing well or what you can do when you aren’t. But it mostly depends on how useful you find self-awareness!

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    1. I can see both of those for you, but you have to choose one. 🙂

      Did you read their descriptions? Did one of them stand out to you more than the other (I found that it was the one that made me say, “noooo, that’s what I dislike about myself the most!” that turned out to be most accurate).

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