Another Self-Discovery Tool: The Enneagram


Knowing and understanding more about yourself and why you think or behave the way you do in certain situations can open the door to some powerful conversations with your coach. Personality assessments such as the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI,) DiSC and StrengthsFinder 2.0 have been used by businesses to help employees and teams perform more effectively for years. These assessments are useful for individual coaching clients too but often they don’t really “speak” to people. You can tell someone they’re an ENFJ or a relator-includer but the information doesn’t stick because there isn’t a strong frame of reference.

I recently went to a conference where I learned about the Enneagram. Using an assessment where you decide how strongly a statement relates to you, you’re placed into one of 9 different personality types. These archetypes or enneatypes give insight into how you act when you are at your best and worst. The system offers the addition of numerous subtleties as you add the concept of “wings” (the potential to cross types) and what happens to a type under stress or growth. The more I’ve looked into the system, the more fascinated I’ve become. I took a number of different assessments and I was consistently rated as a type 2: The Helper (also called The Giver or The Lover.) I found a study that cross references enneatypes with MBTI scores and I found that mine match.

Enneagram types are much easier for individuals to remember and offer imagery to which they can relate. They help them understand their actions under conditions of stress or when they’re at ease. From a coach’s standpoint, this gives another reflective point that can be offered to a client when they feel they’re not living to their full, genuine potential.

While the archetype figures may appear too spiritual for the corporate world, some companies such as Adobe, e-Bay and General Mills have used Enneagram types to help people understand each other and work together better in teams. Once I’ve studied them more, I might consider introducing these types to supplement more traditional team building tools like the MBTI.

If you’re interested, here’s a link to take a free sample Enneagram assessment. It’s not the full assessment so the type will only be an approximation at best. Let me know how well you think it matches you.

Photo credit: Grace Commons (Wicker Park Grace) / / CC BY-NC-SA

Where do you sit in the crayon box?


To continually improve your life, you need to better understand yourself; your strengths and weaknesses. There are dozens of personality assessments commonly used today in business and for personal use such as StrengthsFinder, Myers-Briggs and Values in Action.

I recently learned of a new system called The Color Code. This assessment looks at your strengths and limitations and how you react to different situations. What is unique is that the instructions are explicit that you answer from the viewpoint of how you behaved as a child. The final result places you into a color category with a dominant motive.

I completed the assessment and learned that I’m very much a blue. I supposed that would make me Midnight Blue. Blues are motivated by intimacy. The summary results and video shown upon completion of the assessment state that I need to genuinely connect with others, that I’m loyal to friends, employees and employers and that everything I do is quality based. Most important, I need to create meaningful relationships and to serve and give of myself freely to nurture others’ lives. I’d say that’s a fair assessment knowing myself and given my profession.

The real value of assessments, however, comes from having your shadow side held up for examination. Working with a coach or through self-exploratory exercises, you can examine how these darker traits show up in your life and how you might better integrate them into a more positive whole. For example, my very blue personality can make me worry-prone and moody when I’m at my worst. I’m aware of these traits so I’m mindful of how I’m reacting to others if I’m under an unusual amount of stress. I use “thought trapping,” pausing to look at the root cause of a feeling, to check my responses when I’m in an off mood.

You can take the basic Color Code analysis for free.  Once completed, let me know what you learned about yourself. Were there any surprises? How might you address the traits that show up when you’re not at your best?

Photo credit: scottwills / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND