Hello Readers, I am so pleased to introduce you to Sarah of Look and Joy! A gracious and lovely Southern gal with many gifts, Sarah is not only musical (she sings and plays instruments!), but also an avid reader, marketing expert, cyclist extraordinaire, adventuress (in fact, we take trips together! See the photo following this post for a snapshot of us on a trip last month), a personal life coach in the making, and best of all, my long-time friend who has never stopped encouraging me to pursue my passions while inspiring me with her zeal for life. She will inspire you as well with her knowledge of personalities and how pursuing a greater understanding of this topic can bring freedom and peace into your life. Please read on for her knowledge and insight into the importance of personality testing and understanding people better!
Enneagram Insights: Free Spirit or Flake?
I’ve always admired people who seem to unequivocally know who they are, what they want and how to be immune to the judgments of others. This isn’t most of us, is it? Most people have blindspots in their personalities. For life to function well, there must be a myriad of gifts, perspectives, motivations and personality types, but appreciating this diversity is not easy!
Take social media as an example of this personality quagmire. We see epic digital battles over dresses, politics, celebrities – some want us to just get along, some don’t want to be involved at all, some see issues as black and white, some see grey, some see purple. Who’s wrong? Who’s right? Who cares? It can be maddening to navigate these waters!
I am a personality testing and self-awareness enthusiast. You can’t have your feet firmly planted in life without understanding what makes you (and others) unique. If you’ve interviewed for a corporate job, you probably took some sort of generic test to see if you were right for the role. In retrospect, my results were normally wrong, because I unconsciously put on work “masks” to project what I was “supposed” to be. I spent years thinking and acting like someone I wasn’t, which leads to an imbalance of mind, soul, and body. I unknowingly did things I didn’t really want to do, nurtured relationships with people who drained me, and fell prey to the illegitimate criticism of others.
A life coach and friend introduced me to The Enneagram, which is a personality insight tool. It has spiritual roots and can be tricky to navigate at first without some help, but it is dynamic and practical. I’m a type seven, which is the experiential, free-spirited, non-judgmental, compulsive type (some associated types – hippie, playboy, traveler, entertainer). Sevens can make a huge impact on the world with their passion, independent thinking and risk taking. However, other types can view sevens as flaky, non-committal and lacking in substance. Conversely, I can view aggressive, competitive, no-nonsense people as being self-absorbed, rude and obtuse. You see the dilemma! Of course, every person has room for improvement, but if we don’t recognize our own gifting/bias, we can kill the spark of what makes other people unique, optimized and powerful.
The Enneagram is not binary (either/or) like Myers Briggs. It accommodates for periods in life of stress and health. For each type, there is an option for a sub-type (known as a “wing”) to add even more dimension and insight.
Even if you explored personality testing in the past, check out the Enneagram. My favorite website is enneagraminstitute.com, which has free short tests and thorough type descriptions. My favorite book is “Enneagram in Life and Work” by Helen Palmer, but do some general context research online first for this book to be even more helpful. I encourage you to start, or continue, the wonderful journey of learning to be our truest selves.
You can find more of Sarah’s insights and book recommendations at her blog. Thank you for sharing, Sarah! I hope you’ll do it again soon…