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How to Choose the Right Job Using the Enneagram


This blog was written at the request of Josefina Escobar Bascur from Chile for use on a website called Work and Women. The site is for women who are entering the workforce, and Josefina requested my thoughts regarding how the Enneagram might be useful to them in this process. Because I have a background in career development – having worked with my dear friend and career development guru Beverly Kaye earlier in my career – I accepted the invitation immediately!

Women are entering the workforce in record numbers; in many countries this has been a trend for several decades, while in other countries it is a newer phenomenon. How can knowing the Enneagram and identifying your Enneagram style help you in choosing a job that will work well for you?

There are a number of ways to use the Enneagram in choosing a job, but the most important thing to remember is this: the best way to find the right job is to find a vocation, position, and organization that best aligns with your skills, interests, and values. To use the Enneagram effectively in your search, here are the key points:

Your Enneagram style has no relationship to your technical skills
The Enneagram is strongly connected to your interests, but has an even stronger connection to your values
You can determine how aligned your interests and values are with a specific job opportunity
You can improve and grow dramatically using the Enneagram
You can develop your leadership skills using the Enneagram
Emotional Intelligence through self-mastery matters most: develop it through the Enneagram

Your Enneagram style has no relationship to your technical skills

The Enneagram describes the pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving that go with each of the 9 styles, but these are not skills. Skills are learned competencies, and people should choose jobs that match their skills and also stretch them to take these skills to an even higher level. And if you learn new skills on the job, especially ones that you want to learn, this is even better. To accomplish this, do a skills self-assessment. Write down all the things you know how to do, even skills you take for granted or skills you learned in one area that transfer to another. A woman who has raised a family of three children certainly knows how to organize work, structure tasks, keep budgets, motivate and discipline people, and more. In addition, ask your friends for the skills they believe you have. Write these down, too.

The Enneagram is strongly connected to your interests, but has an even stronger connection to your values

To explain the difference between skills and interests, think of it like this: you may be an excellent bookkeeper, but maybe you dislike the tasks involved or you are bored doing them. A bookkeeping or accounting job may fit your skills but not your interests. So you could be very good at something that you are not interested in doing; similarly, you could have an interest in something in which you have limited skill. Pursue a job in which you have both skills and interest if you want to be successful and fulfilled.

Values are neither skills nor interests, but they are extremely important; values are deeply held principles and beliefs that guide you because they are so important to you. For example, you might have an interest in people, but a value that you should make the world a better place through your efforts.

And your interests and values do relate to your Enneagram styles; here is a very brief summary of this connection:

Enneagram Ones: want a perfect world and constantly try to improve everyone and everything

Interests: Ones like practical, concrete work that enables them to organize and structure disorderly tasks; with too much order, Ones get bored because there is little for them to organize. However, with too little order that cannot be organized, work feels overly chaotic and Ones can become anxious and highly frustrated

Values: excellence, highest quality, and not making mistakes

Enneagram Twos: want others to perceive them as generous, thoughtful individuals; anticipate and provide for the needs of others; and like to influence others, often behind the scenes

Interests: Twos like work that involves helping and influencing others in a positive direction, wanting to make a difference in peoples’ lives; in jobs where there is limited engagement with others, Twos can feel starved for contact; with too much contact with people in general and in situations where they can’t influence situations or when others don’t take them seriously, Twos feel diminished

Values: humane treatment of others in which everyone is highly regarded and motivated

Enneagram Threes: want to succeed and to gain the respect and admiration of others, often at the expense of being true to themselves

Interests: Threes like to work in jobs and with others who have high social respect in their particular culture; without this high esteem, the work does not satisfy them. As a note, Threes may not even know what truly interests them apart from their social context

Values: seeing the results of their efforts

Enneagram Fours: want to experience the deepest connections with themselves and others

Interests: Fours like work that has deep meaning and purpose to them, where they can express themselves and their abilities in creative ways

Values: originality and self-expression

Enneagram Fives: want to know as much as they can cerebrally, keeping a distance from others so their resources do not get depleted

Interests: Fives like work that both utilizes and increases their knowledge, particularly in topic areas that interest them and in which they can control the demands on their time and energy

Values: autonomy, competence, fact-based understanding

Enneagram Sixes: want certainty, meaning and support in their lives

Interests: Sixes like problem solving and enjoy the challenge that comes with managing risk; without problems to solve and risks to assess, Sixes become under-stimulated and bored; with too much risk, they become highly anxious and make impulsive choices

Values: loyalty, support, honesty

Enneagram Sevens: want stimulation, excitement, and options, avoiding discomfort and pain

Interests: Sevens like creativity, innovation, possibilities, and situations that challenge them beyond conventional thinking; in situations where these qualities are present, Sevens are joyous, but when they feel limited or criticized, they become angry and despairing

Values: freedom from constraints, pleasure, novelty

Enneagram Eights: want to make big things happen, while covering up their vulnerability

Interests: Eights like to be in charge, assert themselves, and get things under control; when they have free reign and take chaos and make something happen, they are satisfied; when things are already under control or when they authority is usurped, they become frustrated and angry

Values: justice, truthfulness, influence

Enneagram Nines: want peace and harmony, becoming tense and uncomfortable when there is unresolved conflict and ill-will

Interests: Nines like to work with others in a harmonic way, often mediating conflicts and facilitating conversations along the way; when Nines can get others to reach agreements and treat one another with respect, they are very satisfied, but when there is irresolvable conflict or unaddressed tension, they become extremely uncomfortable

Values: everyone being heard, harmony, mutual respect

You can determine how aligned your interests and values are with a specific job opportunity

How can you use this information about your interests and values when choosing a job? First, identify your most important interests and values, using the above information as your guide. Next, ask potential employers some easy questions:

· What is this organization like?
· What are its values?
· What do employees who like working here say about the company and what are these employees like? What about employees who have not worked out well here?
· What has been difficult for them and for the organization?

You can improve and grow dramatically using the Enneagram

The Enneagram is fundamentally a growth and development system. Once you identify your Enneagram style and learn a great deal more about your patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving, you’ll realize you are not alone. There are many people just like you, just as there are many people who are very different. But beyond this, you can use the Enneagram for development because it comes with development activities that are specific for people of your Enneagram style.

Here are some examples: If you are an Enneagram One, a person who pursues perfection, has a strong sense of right and wrong, complete with an inner critic or judgmental orientation, you can learn how to relax this. There are specific ways to be more self-accepting and accepting of others, which doesn’t mean you give up your ability to discern. It’s simply that you have more control over it, rather than it controlling you. Or if you are an Enneagram Five, a person who is emotionally detached and wants to know everything, you can learn to be more engaged with others without feeling so depleted.

You can develop your leadership skills using the Enneagram

Our leadership styles are directly related to our Enneagram style, but we don’t usually know this. Leaders of each style can be effective or ineffective, but in nine different ways. Once you know your Enneagram style and understand how it creates what you think a leader should be, you can objectively assess your strengths, use them in the appropriate circumstances, but also expand your leadership style in ways you never thought possible. And don’t wait until your leadership style either causes you to have difficulties at work or limits your organizational success. You can work on expanding your leadership capabilities on a continuous basis. Although the Enneagram has no relationship to technical skills, it does relate to many leadership skills.

For example, Enneagram Three leaders believe it is their job to achieve results by setting goals for employees and providing an effective structure, but they may miss the importance of motivating people and interpersonal relationships in accomplishing the work. The Enneagram can help them learn to do this. Or, Enneagram Seven leaders perceive their job as one in which they should help their organization or team take advantage of new and exciting business opportunities. But what if the organization or team needs focus and stability rather than creativity and innovation? The development activities designed for Seven leaders can help them do exactly that.

Emotional Intelligence through self-mastery matters most: develop it through the Enneagram

And once you take a position in a company or even start your own business – and if you want to be successful – the most important thing is remember is to develop your self-mastery and psychological maturity In fact, the greatest predictor of success in every occupation and industry around the world is Emotional Intelligence (EQ). EQ is comprised of two factors: intra-personal intelligence or the ability to know, accept and manage yourself and your reactions and inter-personal intelligence – the ability to interact effectively with a wide variety of other people. Using the Enneagram is a superior way to accomplish both.

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2 years ago

good job!