I have been using the Enneagram both personally and professionally for about 15 years. Though I am certified in (MBTI) Meyer-Briggs Temperament Indicator, I actually prefer the Enneagram’s 9 Personality Types. The Enneagram offers a more robust spiritual dimension to taking a look at one’s own stories and provides a way to explain the complexities we face in ourselves in stress and relaxation. True to other personality typing instruments, the Enneagram discusses both the positive and troubling behaviors we may face as we try to free ourselves from the cage of our own egos, but last week, I had an idea! What if I taught a class using only the gifts of each type as a way of encouraging people to live into their own strength and purpose?
So, last Friday, I had a lovely evening with my students, discussing the gifts of the Enneagram. Not everyone was sure of their type when they arrived. I had sent them the link to an online test I recommend http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/begin.asp and they came to the class knowing their type approximately. Sometimes, we have to sit with an idea before it blooms in our awareness, and this was certainly the case for my students. We worked our way through the Enneagram type-by-type: mind, body and heart types. Each type has its gifts. I like to call them “super-powers,” because I have seen these super-powers at work in all of my clients over the years. The super-power of the Protector, for example, is their tremendous strength and skill at taking charge of desperate situations. they can be great–even heroic–in times of need. The Giver/Helper has the super-power of altruism and generosity. They give freely without expectation or condition. The class was a big success and everyone left with a deeper appreciation of their own gifts.
I love the idea that we all possess super-powers, like heroes on an epic journey, each called to different task. We have hidden strengths and depths that we can call upon in our hour of need. What if we decided to use our gifts everyday, as a way of defining our purpose and our work in the world? What if we stopped being “modest” about our strengths and celebrated them instead? How might the world be improved by if we stopped waiting for someone else to tell us who we are, why we are here and what we should/could be doing?
What are your gifts? Don’t be modest! Make a list of them–you know what they are! Now, look at this list and start using them everyday in as many ways as you can think of to use them, again and again. Now encourage others to do the same. Let me know how you get on. I’d love to hear about your discoveries right here on this blog. Let this be a place to encourage each other to live a life built on our strengths and gifts.
Dr. Laurel Ross