Disclaimer: There is SO much information about this, and I am not, nor claim to be, an expert in the subject. But it is fun to talk about…
Dang, how can I keep this short? In its most basic form - the Enneagram is a personality profiling system that seeks to discern a person’s primary motivations for the decisions they make, the way they act, the way they react, etc. It’s really popular right now in Nashville - I assume there’s a pretty widespread infatuation with it. So what’s the deal? Why do so many find it so interesting? And why do so many of our podcast guests talk about it (if you haven’t noticed a trend yet, you may soon)? Below, I’ll attempt to give you a brief overview, what number I am and what that means, what number Chandler is and what that means, and how it’s influenced our lives.
So What Is It?
Like I wrote above, the Enneagram is a personality system that is based on a person’s primary motivations. People are categorized into numbers 1-9. The numbers vary in what they are called, but the ideas are all the same. This is how I refer to the numbers:
Each number has core motivations that influence how that person acts, reacts, thinks, etc. Each number also has “wings,” which are the numbers on either side that also have influence in that person’s life. For example, a 7 would either also have tendencies of a 6 or an 8 (or sometimes both!). 4s would have influence from 3 and 5, so on and so forth.
Along with your number and wing, you are also a part of a triad of numbers - one is your primary, one is where you go in health, and one is where you go in stress. For instance, 3s, 6s, and 9s are in a triad. 9s go to 3 in health and 6 in stress. 3s go to 6 in health and 9 in stress. 6s go to 9 in health and 6 in stress. Have I lost you yet?
The point is, although this sounds fairly complex, the more I’ve learned about it the more I’ve found it to be strikingly accurate. To accentuate that point, I’ll detail myself and Chandler below.
Photo from: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/
Jeremy is a 9 - The Peacemaker
So I’m a 9. The primary motivation of a 9 is to keep internal peace. Practically, that means I’m a generally pretty chill person who can generally see most sides to an argument or conflict. We blend in a bit because it’s easier for us to understand the viewpoints of others and see them as valid. I don’t really avoid conflict, but I’d say that I “smooth it out” (mostly in an effort to not have my own peace disturbed). I exhibit both 8 and 1 wings at different times. In short what that means is that although I’m laid back, I am able to take control when needed and also a little OCD.
The good and the bad. 9s are the best number, obviously. Just kidding - each number has amazing strengths and difficult weaknesses. Some strengths of 9s are that we see all sides to conflicts, are generally easy to be around, and can bring peace to otherwise stressful situations for others. The major weakness of a 9 is laziness. We can become so chill during our search for inner peace that we just retract into ourselves.
9s go to 3 in health. I’ve found this to be true. When I am healthy mentally, physically, etc. I have a go-getter mentality and a strong internal drive, which are characteristics of 3s (see below). It’s a good sign to me when I’m feeling this way not only because I’m getting a lot done, but also because that means I’m generally in a good spot internally.
9s go to 6 in stress. This is definitely true too. When I’m stressed or unhealthy mentally, I become insecure and confrontational, which are the not-so-good traits of a 6. Again, this can be a good indicator of how I’m doing - if I notice myself shutting down or being insecure (or more insecure than normal), it’s a sign to me to check what’s going on inside.
Chandler is a 3 - The Achiever
So Chandler is a 3. The primary motivation of a 3 is to appear successful. Practically, that means that Chandler is a go-getter, hard worker, and all-around impressive person (and I’m not just saying that because she’s my wife!). 3s can walk into a room and immediately know how to be impressive, whatever that means, to whoever is there - it’s an innate gift. Chandler is a 4 wing, which means that she also has a strong creative side to her thinking. Her go-getter nature paired with her intense creativity is what makes her such a great interior designer and business owner!
The good and the bad. 3s are always impressive. Some of their strengths include a strong work ethic, a lot of accomplishments, and being generally very likable and driven. The major weakness of a 3 is deceit - both of others and of the self. 3s will sometimes bend the truth in order to appear more successful, or maybe even deceive themselves in this way.
3s go to 6 in health. When things are healthy for a 3, they become more team-focused and more interested in the greater good as opposed to individual goals, which are characteristics of 6s. It’s a good sign when 3s have the big picture and greater good in mind, because that means they are generally in a pretty healthy spot!
3s go to 9 in stress. When things aren’t right mentally or emotionally for a 3, they pull back and shut down - the not-so-good traits of a 9. For Chandler, I can tell when she’s in stress when I see her normal go-getter self shift towards a no-getter self. It’s a sign to me that all isn’t well on the inside.
How We’ve Found It Helpful
I’ll preface this section with this - the Enneagram is a great tool for self-evaluation and interesting conversation, but we try to place an appropriate amount of emphasis on its usefulness. It’s easy to go overboard and sing it’s seemingly unending praises; we try not to do that. We simply see it as a tool in our relational tool bag that helps us understand ourselves and others better.
One way we’ve used the enneagram is in self-evaluation. Like I highlighted above - because we know where we go in health and where we go in stress, the enneagram provides a helpful gauge to our internal health. Similarly, we are able to be on the lookout for our major weaknesses. When I find myself being tempted to retract and exhibit laziness, I know I need to push past that. For me, that laziness can manifest itself in strange ways that I didn’t think of before. For instance, if I’m in a situation that is “disrupting my inner peace,” I may opt to not take an action I know to be right because it accomplishes inner peace faster than taking that action. I’m on the lookout for that now, and it is actually really helpful.
Another way we’ve used the enneagram is in our relationship. Apart from everything I’ve detailed above, there are MORE rules about how the numbers interact with each other. I know you’re thinking, “my head is already spinning with all these dang numbers.” It really does start to make sense eventually. Long story marginally shorter, Chandler and I are better able to evaluate conflicts between us by thinking through the primary motivations for our actions.This helps us to understand each other better and understand how we can best love the other in those moments.
That’s All…For Now…
The Enneagram is a deep dive. It can be a really great tool for you and your family to help understand and love each other better. It has created a lot of really interesting dialogue amongst our friends and family. We try to use it to love each other better. We try to use it to serve our clients better.
I’ve included a few of our favorite enneagram resources below if you’re interested in taking the leap. Be sure to check them out!
And if you’re already into it, we’d love to hear from you about what number you are! Comment below or shout us out on Instagram @peachandpinehome