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…Be good at it…

Interested in being both personally satisfied and professionally effective? You need to be good at what you do. Here are ways people of each Enneagram type can be even better at what they do!


You are likely already good at what you do, because Ones act as if they are, in a sense, their own continuous self-improvement project. It can always be better; they can always be better and do better. Although this attitude is noble, the pressure this puts on Ones can actually result in their not being as good at something as they actually could be. How? The answer lies in relaxing more as you do things so that you can get more into the flow of whatever the activity is, engaging in what you do without the pressure of having to do it perfectly.


How can Twos actually know how good they are at something? This is the Two conundrum for them. An analogy would be that it is challenging for Twos to know how big they are. Sometimes Twos feel and act as if they feel bigger than life. However, Twos can also do the opposite, shrinking themselves so they feel very small. This is connected to the Twos’ emotional habit (also called passion) of pride: a sense of self-inflation and also self-deflation, depending on how others respond to them and what they do. This can translate into “how do I know when I am doing a good job or an activity? Is it when others think so? Is it when my pride is inflated rather than deflated?”. To know whether you are good at something (or how good), find your internal anchor, your internal measure rather than relying on the eternal measure of other people’s reactions.


Threes tend to get very good at the things they believe will lead them to positive results, in their own eyes, but particularly in the view of other people. The result can be Threes may think they are good at something, but if this view is not supported by others, Threes can falter in their sense of how good they are at something and falter in their self-respect and self-worth. And who is correct, the Three or others? This dilemma – knowing “how good am I at something?”– creates undue pressure on Threes to constantly perform as if they have a visible or invisible audience. Shut off your invisible audience, try things you might like even if you are not good at them, and find the fun in everything you do, whether you are good at it or not.


Fours start from the presumption that they are not as good at what they do as others are. This relates to the Fours’ emotional pattern (passion) of envy, the continuous comparison of themselves with others whereby Fours most commonly conclude they are not as good as someone else. In other words, Fours start with the presumption they are deficient, although some Fours may also revert to feeling superior to another person as a defense against feeling not-good-enough. All of this would create ambiguity in Fours regarding whether or not they are good at what they do. The solution: find your inner equilibrium that really does know whether or not you are good at something. If you are good at what you do, enjoy that. If not, you can tune up your performance.


Fives generally know whether or not they are good at what they do. The challenge can be that Fives may focus more on being good at the tasks involved and place less emphasis on the relationships and communications with others that are often involved. It’s helpful to Fives to define “being good at what you do” not only in terms of task-based competency but equally on relationship and communication-based competency.


Although Sixes may be very good at what they do, they worry about it, even the most counter-phobic Sixes. Here is a great question for Sixes to ask themselves: “Has worrying about whether I am good at something I do ever helped me get better at it?” Really think about this. Most likely, the answer is no. Being so concerned about whether or not you are doing a good job most likely simply stresses you and puts unnecessary pressure on you. Relax the worry, even just a little.


Is being good at what they do important to Sevens? Some might wonder because Sevens are so enamored of everything new and stimulating, they often lose interest in what they are currently doing so they can start something new that excites them. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t want to be good at what they do. Nor does it mean they aren’t good at what they do. But they do need to finish what they start. Sevens can help themselves in one important way. Complete your tasks, even if you may not feel like it. Reward yourself every time you complete a task on time!


Eights are often very good at doing the big things; bigger is better and large impact is most important, at least from the Eight perspective. But are Eights good at the smaller and medium-size things? They can be, but do they value parts of the job or activity enough and think it is worth their time and effort? To be good at what you do means to be good at all aspects of what you are tasked to do, not just what you might consider to be the important areas. This simply requires you to enlarge your focus on what matters.


Nines may be quite good at what they do, but do others know this? Nines tend to keep quiet about themselves and also about what they do and what they are good at. Perhaps they don’t want to sound boastful and ambitious. Perhaps they want others to notice what they do without they themselves calling attention to what they do. However, this is akin to staying under the radar. Be good at what you do and, if you are, find your voice to show this to others.

Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, author of eight Enneagram books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs and training tools for business professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications. TheEnneagramInBusiness.com | ginger@theenneagraminbusiness.com

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Bruce Edwards
Bruce Edwards
1 year ago

Good article. Just had a discussion with my part of my leadership team about this topic. We were a combination of Threes and a Six. Thank you.