Home | Blog | The Enneagram is about development, or is it?

The Enneagram is about development, or is it?

From my first exposure to the Enneagram in the mid-1990s, I became stunned by the potential contribution it could make to raising human consciousness and relieving suffering, both the suffering we cause ourselves and the suffering we cause others, either intentionally or unintentionally. I learned the Enneagram initially from Helen Palmer, who beautifully managed to teach the system from both a spiritual and psychological perspective. From her, I gleaned that the Enneagram was all about development, with each type having specific paths to follow on their journey.

The first time I was exposed to the fact that development wasn’t a cornerstone of everyone who taught or learned the Enneagram was in the early 2000s. Although I was honored to be an invited presenter for a well-established Enneagram community outside the US, I was stunned when I learned that my teaching was very different from what they were used to. When the material I covered was content about types such as communication or conflict, they responded very well. However, when the focus of the program shifted to their own development related to the topic, their faces were blank. After day one of the three-day program, I asked them why. The answer was simple: “We use the Enneagram to describe ourselves, but we don’t use it for development. It’s more fun that way and we enjoy each other more.”

I didn’t have to think long about what to do. The dilemma was this: Do I stick to type description content and activities only or do I continue to include a development component to everything planned? Development it was and after the second half of day two, participants got used to this new way of using the Enneagram and even liked it.

As a training professional for over four decades, I have long used the following training motto as guidance for how to structure learning: What, so what and now what. The what refers to the content, whether by lecture, activity or facilitated conversation. The so what involves an answer to the question, why should participants care about this? This has to be made explicit for participants. The now what is essential and answers this question: How to I apply what I’ve just learned to real life? As a result, all of my work includes development actions people can take and ideally involves skill practice in the program itself. This is the real goal of effective training. We have to take Enneagram training beyond the what or so what. As one of my colleagues would often ask, Does this activity or set of activities ‘have legs’?

Do your Enneagram trainings ‘have legs’?

Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, author of nine 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

Comments are closed.