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Enneagram Styles and Flexibility

 

Each month, Gayle Hardie, a Senior Member of the Enneagram in Business Network who is Australia-based, writes an insight or reflection for us to consider. Gayle’s insights really make me think and stretch, both personally and as I relate them to the 9 Enneagram styles.

Gayle’s Insight

There is an amazing song written by Joan Armatrading called “Willow.” Whenever I hear it I immediately link it to flexibility.

The few words in the chorus say it all…“I said I’m strong… straight…. willing to be a shelter in a storm.  Your willow… oh willow, when the sun is out.” 

Yet, when we look at a willow, it bends in the wind; its branches are crooked and often gnarled; and there is a risk in standing under a tree in a storm.  However, the description in the song feels so right.  It can be “both/and” rather than “either/or.”

Flexibility means:

*  Going with the flow when you want to be in control

*  Stepping up to lead the way rather than being the follower

*  Acknowledging that there is more than one right way to get things done

*  Letting others care for you when you would much prefer to look after them

*  Acknowledging the contribution of others in what you have achieved rather than being alone in the limelight

*  Recognizing that your unique ideas are just as amazing as others

*  Giving the best answer you have even when you think you don’t have enough information

*  Taking a risk rather than being burdened with worrying about the consequences

*  Sitting with (rather than escaping from) the pain of a situation and appreciating the feelings and emotions associated with it

Whatever your type there is the opportunity to see things differently, adapt and adjust to situations, and be flexible in who you are.

The 9 Enneagram Styles

As you think about Gayle’s insights regarding Flexibility, what does it reveal about each of us in terms of our Enneagram styles and the ways in which we can grow? As I read Gayle’s insights above, halfway through I realized that she had arranged these by Enneagram type. Another way to understand what this means is that we can all grow to be more flexible; we can all learn from all the styles because, in a way, we all do all these things; and the Enneagram is an incredible map for development.

Did you recognize another structural aspect of Gayle’s insights? As she explains what Flexibility means, she paints us a picture of Flexibility in both words and behaviors that align with the experience of Flexibility. And these are the exact opposite of what each Enneagram type does normally. It’s an 180º stretch for each of us! None of us are truly Flexible; we are all, often without knowing it, rigidly stuck in our Enneagram-based habits.

Gayle started with Eights, Nines, and Ones, (Body Center styles); then Twos, Threes, and Fours (Heart Center styles); and ended with Fives, Sixes, and Sevens (Head Center styles). And so, I will go in that order as well.

And in this blog, I will simply add statements that are suggestions for each Enneagram style to say to themselves (out loud, if possible) that support the 180º behavioral shift. These are really injunctive commands that say, “Stop doing this and start doing that!”

BODY CENTER STYLES

Enneagram Eights: Going with the flow when you want to be in control

Self-Statement: Give it up, NOW! Allow!

Enneagram Nines: Stepping up to lead the way rather than being the follower

Self-Statement: Step it up, NOW! Assert yourself!

Enneagram Ones: Acknowledging that there is more than one right way to get things done

Self-Statement: Relax, let go! Would you rather be right or effective?

HEART CENTER STYLES

Enneagram Twos: Letting others care for you when you would much prefer to look after them

Self-Statement: Ask someone! Let someone! Surrender to support!

Enneagram Threes: Acknowledging the contribution of others in what you have achieved rather than being alone in the limelight

Self-Statement: You are not alone!  Notice everyone around you!

Enneagram Fours: Recognizing that your unique ideas are just as amazing as others

Self-Statement: You really created that! Wow!

HEAD CENTER STYLES

Enneagram Fives: Giving the best answer you have even when you think you don’t have enough information

Self-Statement: You probably have more information than anyone else! Go for it!

Enneagram Sixes: Taking a risk rather than being burdened with worrying about the consequences

Self-Statement: If you could know all the consequences beforehand, you wouldn’t be human. Just do it!

Enneagram Sevens: Sitting with (rather than escaping from) the pain of a situation and appreciating the feelings and emotions associated with it

Self-Statement: Sit, Be, Feel, Stay!

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