The Enneagram and Your Self-Image - jennwhitmer.com

Oct 14, 2022

The Enneagram and Your Self-Image

“You’re not the boss of me, Pippa!”

Yes, I named and shouted at the British voice who tells me what to do on Waze.
I have a love/hate relationship with turn-by-turn directions and GPS navigation systems.

I really hate a machine telling me what to do. I am a full human who can read a map and make my own choices; thankyouverymuch. And you interrupted my music six times in the last 90 seconds telling me to turn. I KNOW ALREADY.


Ok, but also…I want to know how someone else got there easier. In a new city, I’m unaware of side streets, shortcuts, and traffic tie-ups. Pippa and all her Waze friends show me patterns that help me get where I really want to go. (Even if it’s kind of annoying).

Self-awareness is hands-down your greatest asset.

Patterns are helpful. Patterns show how others have navigated the path before me. And while in my life and leadership I like to think I am a unique, one-of-a-kind, individual, the patterns of other humans who have walked on this earth can show me more about me than I like to admit.

We can simply call it self-awareness. As a leader, self-awareness is hands-down your greatest asset. Jo Saxton, a wise leadership expert, says, “The way you think about yourself is already shaping your leadership.”

“The way you think about yourself is already shaping your leadership.”


So how do you figure out how you think about yourself? Enter the Enneagram…

The Enneagram is a personality framework that shows us why we think, act, and feel the way we do. It shows us how the filter of our self-image impacts how we see the world. When applied with wisdom, the Enneagram shows us how to use our strengths, work through our weaknesses, and stop dangerous patterns.

At its most distilled level, the Enneagram reveals the self-image story we want to maintain. There are nine core stories that are the foundation of the nine personality types on the Enneagram, and the types are identified by numbers One through Nine.

One: “I have to be right to be good because it’s not ok to make mistakes.”
Ones use reaction formation to avoid open anger and to maintain a self-image of being right. 

Two: “I have to be helpful because it’s not ok to have my own needs.”
Twos use repression of personal needs and feelings to avoid being needy and to maintain a self-image of being helpful. 

Three: “I have to be successful in others’ eyes because it’s not ok to have my own identity.”
Threes use identification to avoid failure and maintain a self-image of being successful. 

Four: “I have to be authentic because it’s not ok to be not enough or too much.”
Fours use introjection (looking inward) to avoid ordinariness and maintain a self-image of being authentic. 

Five: “I have to be competent because it’s not ok to let your guard down and be too comfortable.”
Fives use isolation to avoid emptiness and maintain a self-image of being knowledgeable. 

Six: “I have to be loyal and prepared because it’s not ok to trust myself.”
Sixes use projection to avoid personal rejection and to maintain a self-image of being loyal. 

Seven: “I have to be ok and joyful because it’s not ok to depend on others to take care of me.”
Sevens use reframing to avoid suffering and to maintain a self-image of being OK. 

Eight: “I have to be strong because it’s not ok to trust anyone.”
Eights use denial to avoid vulnerability and to maintain a self-image of being strong. 

Nine: “I have to be harmonious and comfortable because it’s not ok to assert myself.” Nines use numbing to avoid conflict and to maintain a self-image of being comfortable or harmonious.

Imagine how seeing this filter can impact your leadership, your relationships, and your life. The Enneagram isn’t about your behavior. It’s seeing the pattern of your motivation show up in the Slack message, the client meeting, and the phone call with your mom. And then you having the power to make the best choice. 

And the next level: What if you could see and understand the filter of others? Carl Jung said, “Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people.” Understanding the Enneagram transforms your leadership.

Sometimes I get annoyed when the Enneagram shows me the unhelpful pattern I’m living in like when Pippa interrupts at the best part of my P!nk playlist! And yet, I keep discovering the peace and joy of using Enneagram wisdom to improve my relationships, my performance, and my life.

Here’s my invitation to you: Explore how the Enneagram can transform you and your team. Book a Spark Call with me. Take 15 minutes to see what isn’t working for you right now and identify what’s the next step for you to grow as a leader. You’ll hang up feeling more confident navigating your life.

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