Dec 8, 2023

Coco Chanel and the Enneagram: When You Resist Simplicity

“I just gotta Coco Chanel that proposal,” I remarked as we walked up the wet asphalt.

My friend turned to me and said, “Ok, I’ve heard you say that before. What do you mean by that?”

I do repeat that phrase to myself often. When I’m working on a keynote or training, I’m so tempted to squeeze in just more thing. And I feel it in the top of my chest, like my heart starts to do a little moving up closer to my collarbones.

And I’ve seen it happen with my clients too. Especially approaching a deadline. Let’s just add more! That will be great!

Here’s where Coco and my Enneagram personality start a little tug o’ war.

Coco Chanel said something like this, “Before you leave the house, you should look in the mirror and remove one item.” She’s talking about accessories, by the way…

Often in a project, a design, or even an email, we want to just add one more thing. Because we believe that one more thing is going to keep us safe — or a better way to say it, our personalities believe it will keep us safe.

The problem is “add just one more thing” is based on fear.

Last week, I shared three actions to help you to move through overwhelm by embracing a bit of simplicity. 

But what do you do when you feel resistance to those actions? When your Enneagram personality goes into overdrive, and it’s hard to get to GETMO.

You have to name the fear.

Here’s a quick list of the likely fear of each Enneagram type when its resisting the simplicity of Coco’s advice:

Enneagram Eight

If I don’t add this, I’ll be seen as vulnerable or weak.

Enneagram Nine

If I don’t add this, I might upset someone.

Enneagram One

If I don’t add this, it’s not perfect.

Enneagram Two

If I don’t add this, then I’ll be rejected.

Enneagram Three

If I don’t add this, then I’ll fail.

Enneagram Four

If I don’t add this, it’ll be like everyone else’s.

Enneagram Five

If I don’t add this, they’ll think I don’t know it.

Enneagram Six

If I don’t add this, then they’ll blame me.

Enneagram Seven

If I don’t add this, I could miss the opportunity.

patterned divider

As we were walking up that hill, I was talking to my friends that I was afraid there wasn’t enough in a proposal. And I realized I was afraid of losing the opportunity so I kept adding to the proposal.

I recognize that fear because I’ve done the self-awareness work of the Enneagram. It makes it easier to name and then deal with. (At the Joyosity Retreat in February, this is some of the work we’ll be doing.)

The reality is by giving into my fear and adding more, I was making the proposal confusing for my potential client. Hence the repetition to myself, “I just gotta Coco Chanel that proposal.”

So for you: Here’s my Jenn Whitmer spin on Coco’s advice, “When you’re in overwhelm and confusion, pause at the mirror of your thoughts to find the fear, and take one thing out.”



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