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Insight | Enneagram Styles and Work

Gerry Fathauer, Senior Member of the Enneagram in Business Network (EIBN), has written this Insight Activity about Work, which really can be thought of as Holy Work or Life Work. As an Enneagram Three, Gerry said this was the most challenging of all the Insight Activities she has written thus far. Why? Because Threes identify so strongly with Work that their challenge is to know who they are separate from what they do (work, activities, and more).  Gerry has risen to the occasion to share with us what Work really is:

True work is who we are. We grow when we perceive our work as our teacher. For many of us, work is a life-long pursuit, a joyful pursuit if it brings us alive and opens our hearts.

Our true work is work that expands and empowers us. We come alive through work that is nurturing and aligned with our deepest wisdom about who we are. True work fulfills us on mental and emotional levels, is regenerative, and affirms us as creative, manifesting human beings. Living through our true work opens in us the capacity for our work to reverberate in unimaginable ways for the highest good. What is your true work, and how is it in service to you and to others? Knowing your own true work is essential to bestowing energy and inspiration to your clients. What is your true work with and for your clients? How do you know if your clients are aligned with their true work?

Practicing our true work engages our hearts and minds with others, with life. Work so generated gives back to all many times over.

In this Insight Activity, Gerry speaks to the value of finding our own true work, something many of us seek while others don’t even know is possible. So how can the Enneagram help us do that

Becoming More Conscious in Our Work
Most of us have to work: to pay the bills, take care of families, and become more independent. Even the few who do not need to work – for example, people from wealthy families, those on retirement incomes or who were able to make careful investments – often work anyway. Sometimes we think of our work as some sort of mission we are supposed to be on, something that found us or that we somehow stumbled on. But in reality, every job we do is work; what really matters is how we go about doing it. Are we engaged in our work, in the moment when we are doing it with an open heart and mind? From this perspective, anything we do can be true work if we are fully engaged in it rather than going through the motions. We can write an email to someone being in the moment and with full consciousness, just as we can be engaged in charitable work (which may sound meaningful) but do it in a less than conscious, almost robotic way.

If we really dislike the work we do – for example, if we have ethical problems with the industry or particular company, or we are bored because we’ve done it for too long, or the work environment is not conducive to our needs – we can change it.

And if we are so fortunate as to find something that feels like Holy Work to us, then we are very fortunate because we were either (a) lucky, (b) patient, and/or (c) open to possibility.

So how do we increase our potential for luck, patience, and openness to possibility when it comes to Work? Here are three ideas from the Head Center of Intelligence to help you do that:

Head Center Ideas
Idea 1: Use your Head Center to live in a fuller reality rather than a selective one, one in which we very unconsciously either (a) select out certain information that we either don’t notice or doesn’t fit with our worldview, or (b) select in data that confirms our self-perception and worldview, even if we have to bend the facts quite a bit. Expect, demand, and insist that everyday, you ask yourself this: What has happened today that is actually there and I did not pay attention to? What happened today that I paid too much attention to, or even created a reality distortion in relation to so that I could make it fit into my view of the world?

Idea 2: Look at your patterns of responses to work (think of these as activities, because everything is work in the sense of doing something, paid or unpaid) to determine what you really enjoyed and found meaning in and why, but also what you really disliked and why. The what and the why are equally important. And what is more important is the pattern of your responses, not just the events. This information – the likes, dislikes and whys – will give you are great deal of insight into what really meaningful work might be for you.

Idea 3: Use the Enneagram typed-based thought patterns to examine which of those for your type help you find work that is truly meaningful and which thought patterns are self-limiting. For those you decide are self-limiting, ask yourself this: If this thought pattern limits me, why do I still hold onto it? After this, ask yourself this (for those thought patterns that you decide are self-limiting): What is something simple I can do to let this belief system go?

Here are some enneatype-based examples of thought patterns, but feel free to choose thought patterns that are most relevant to you:

Ones: I have to get everything 100% right.
Twos: If I am not helping others, I am being selfish.
Threes: I have to always have a concrete goal, otherwise I am lost.
Fours: I’m not sure what value I really bring to different situations.
Fives: If I offer myself, they will want more and I will be completely depleted.
Sixes: I can’t know for sure what I really should do.
Sevens: I need to exist in a world maximizing my possibilities and minimizing any limits.
Eights: I must be in control or I am weak.
Nines: I don’t know if I’m up to doing that.

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