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The value of values | type 5

The value of values | type 5

Values are the guiding principles by which we live or, at least, they are aspirations that help us align our actions with our principles. Without values, we would be living in an immoral or amoral world of interpersonal confusion and existential chaos. At the same time, too strong an adherence to our values can create a counter-effect of personal and interpersonal difficulties. And too strong an identification with these values keeps our type structures in place, thus inhibiting our growth potential.

Enneagram 5s emphasize three important values: autonomy, knowledge and wisdom. They often think or say the following: “I can’t and shouldn’t rely on others; I take care of myself.” “Data and logic are the only trustworthy forms of knowledge; the rest is subjective.“ “Once I know everything that really matters, I will be deeply satisfied and fulfilled.” Enneagram 5s also highly protect their privacy, guard against depletion, and are often highly introspective and insightful.

These three values – autonomy, knowledge and wisdom – support the Enneagram 5 “ego ideal” of being the “wise person,” a person who is observant, intellectual and complex and never ignorant, transparent or inattentive. The “ego ideal,” according to Enneagram author and teacher Jerry Wagner, is the idealized self that people use as a positive definition of self, a partial answer to the question “Who am I?”

The issue is that while our type-based values are positive ones, we can hold onto these values so tightly and narrowly – after all, our idealized self depends on our firm belief in these principles – that these values can become impediments to our growth.


What is autonomy and why does it matter?  Some synonyms include being self-sufficient, self-determining, independent, self-reliant and self-supporting. Autonomy also connotes only being beholden to oneself; it might even suggest freedom from social constraints. But an insistence on autonomy comes at a price for 5s: disengagement from other people, events, and social interactions; separation from oneself and one’s environment, a lonely, although safe, place to exist; and the experience of near or complete depletion, which is the result of relying solely on one’s own resources that can and will dry out if not replenished.


What is knowledge and why does it matter? Knowledge is often thought of as facts and information, but it is also skills and the knowledge of how to execute these skills. Synonyms include understanding, comprehension, grasp of material, the condition of knowing something. Knowledge is also a step advanced beyond only facts or data. It is also the ability to digest facts and data into a more complex way of understanding patterns, cause and effect relationships, and underlying principles. But overvaluing or relying on knowledge comes at a price for 5s. A big price is their emotional experience. While most 5s do experience their feelings, they do this in delayed time rather than as they are occurring. In addition, over-valuing knowledge has them under-valuing their own emotional responses as well as those of others. In fact, many 5s become very uncomfortable when others express themselves emotionally. An over-emphasis on knowledge also comes with an under-valuing of direct experience.


What is wisdom and why does it matter? Wisdom is a higher order state than knowledge and, at the same time, wisdom is based on knowledge and not just intellectual knowledge. Wisdom is insight based on knowledge from the head, heart and body, followed by the ability to take wise action. Wisdom is thus a higher state of consciousness, with the ability to discern through knowledge, insight and perceptiveness. Above all, it is excellent judgment with clear sight and foresight.  So what is the challenge for 5s Essentially, the way in which 5s pursue wisdom is through the mind alone, partially or entirely neglecting the heart as well as first-hand-experience. This approach can only lead to partial or incomplete wisdom at best. At worst, it can lead to a variation of “spiritual bypass,” where the person thinks because they are wiser than others, a misguided view that they are fully conscious and evolved.


Values are the foundation of civil communities. Type-based values are organizing principles for people of each type. However, when our values are held too tightly, they limit our development.


Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of seven Enneagram-business 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, and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com | ginger@theenneagraminbusiness.com

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