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  • Adam Jones

The Enneagram: A Brief Introduction

For the next few weeks, I'm going to give you an introduction to a system called the Enneagram. Now, you may have heard of the Enneagram, because it's become quite popular in the last few years. It's viewed by popular culture as another personality "typing" system. Read on to learn:

  • WHAT the Enneagram is

  • WHY the Enneagram is NOT just another typing system

  • HOW the Enneagram changed the game for me and can for you as well

The Enneagram can be traced back all the way to the works of Plato, who wrote of nine "divine forms", which defined as qualities of existence that were "essential" or couldn't be further distilled. Early Christian mystics who are known as the "Desert Fathers" began to speak of the "loss of divine forms". Other sources for the modern Enneagram can be traced to ancient Jewish and Sufi traditions. In the 1950s and 1960s, a Bolivian philosopher named Oscar Ichazo began to synthesize these ancient ideas into a system to describe the relationship between the essence of our individual humanity and the mask we put on for the world.


The word "enneagram" comes from the Greek words ennea, which means "nine", and gram, which means "drawn". Themodern Enneagram consist of nine basic types, signified by a corresponding number, and is drawn as the following symbol: Now, as I said before, many view the Enneagram as another personality typing system, like Myers-Briggs or DISC. But there's a major distinction that sets the Enneagram apart. While Myers-Briggs and the like focus on behavior, the Enneagram focuses on motivation. Two different people may exhibit the same behavior, but with completely opposite motivations for that behavior. Moreover, the Enneagram doesn't simply say, "Here's your personality! Isn't that fun?" Rather the Enneagram views personality as the mask we put on to the world. Our number is not our true self. The Enneagram presents us with the tools we need to bring healing to the weakest parts of ourselves.


Like I said, this was a game changer for me. In 2016, I felt a profound need to do a lot of self-work and self-improvement. I came across a free 12 week course on the Enneagram that was being locally taught. I was blown away by the insight this system offered. I began to understand things I never had before and I was able to begin self-evaluating my motivations for certain decisions. It wasn't easy or fun, but it was necessary and I wouldn't trade it for anything. That's what I want for you as well.


The inscription above the temple of Apollo at Delphi was "Know thyself." It is when we begin to know ourselves that we can take off the masks and become who we were created to be. As Howard Thurman said, "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."


Next week, we'll look deeper into the structure of the Enneagram and how the numbers interact with each other. Until then, have a fantastic week!

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