Jan 19, 2022

We Can’t Play All the Parts: How to work with your Enneagram type and time

I was in tap class for about 32 seconds when I was seven years old. But I adored it. The sounds, the movement, the power. Fred Astaire, Vera-Ellen, Gregory Hines, Dulé Hill, Christian Borle, my own kids—It’s probably my favorite style of dance.

We had a demonstration class at my kids’ studio last month. Miss Amanda explained the secret of tap was the spaces between the taps. You can’t fill every sound from the music with your feet, or you’re gasping after 3 minutes. It becomes a cacophony instead of a dance. You have to work with the music for the performance to shine.

In life, I find the space between the sounds challenging sometimes. Do you?

two men tapping outside on a boardwalk
Photo by Fabian Schneider on Unsplash

I feel the pressure to hit every note, respond to every slight, have an opinion on every subject, know all the answers for my team, be dressed every day, be like the TikTok standards of a leader/mom/sister/wife/friend?

We can’t play all the parts.

And Miss Amanda was right… that will exhaust me, create more stress, keep me ineffective, and lead to burnout.

I have to work with the music. Work with what I’ve been given. In short: self-awareness. And that is why the Enneagram is such a valuable leadership tool.

Here’s an example:

Let’s zoom in on one aspect of leadership—how we perceive and look at time. Sunghee Lee, Mingnan Liu, and Mengyao Hu wrote in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology that how we orient to time is how we organize our experiences and ultimately create culture.

Enneagram wisdom agrees and shows three different (and equally valid) orientations to time.

  • Enneagram Threes, Sevens, and Eights are oriented to the future. What’s next? Where are we going? What’s the goal? So information is stored and processes are created that lean toward future impact.
  • Enneagram Ones, Twos, and Sixes are oriented to the present. What is happening right now? What is the current impact? What needs to happen right now? Again, data is filtered and decisions are made through the lens of right now.
  • Enneagram Fours, Fives, and Nines are oriented to the past. What did we learn? How can we reflect? What has come before? You guessed it, information and methods are filtered through what has come before.

If you lead without awareness of your orientation to time, your leadership is less effective. Because without knowing how you sit with time, you don’t see the spaces and you feel the need to fill them all yourselves (or sometimes ignore them altogether!)

So which one of these is you?

How do you think about time? What is your go-to orientation of choice throughout your day? How does this impact your leadership? How does this impact the culture of your team or organization?  (I’d love to hear your answers. Comment below.

We can’t play all the parts.

Awareness is great, but we also have to do something with that awareness. The Catalyst Leadership Lab is the place to learn a more effective way to lead that doesn’t mean sacrificing who you are. We work through these key leadership areas: conflict resolution, decision-making, problem-solving, communication, feedback, task orientation, time management, focus, and organization. And we use the Enneagram to help you work with your music, so your tap performance doesn’t burn you out!

Find all the details and how to apply here. Spots are limited for each cohort, so apply now if you’re curious or considering.

Let’s turn your cacophony into a performance.



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