The Enneagram and Business


Ok, first. What the heck is the Enneagram? The Enneagram recently gained popularity (this time around) at about the same week everyone discovered rock climbing (I missed the rock climbing week). In reality, it’s been around for a long time, but no one knows really how old. There’s evidence of it in ancient Greek writers and Judaism. The Enneagram is simply nine ways of being, seeing, and responding to what you see. It’s a personality system emerged from a lot of wisdom traditions and now has a lot of influence from modern psychology (defined by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile). I love what Ian Cron says about it; “The Enneagram helps us figure out who we were before the world told us who we were supposed to be.”

In Greek, the word means ‘a nine pointed figure’ (Ennea means nine and grammas means figure). This can be seen in the structure below. The figure is helpful in identifying what number you go to in stress, health, and what your wing is. But, that’s a whole additional level to the Enneagram I won’t even address today.

The Enneagram(sourced from The Enneagram Institute)

Let me start by saying I’m no expert at all on the Enneagram.

That’s why I’m just talking about being a five, because that’s what I understand most. If you’re a five, then it’s your lucky day! But I have been researching it in the last year and it’s been so helpful in my personal growth and development.

Enneagram Five’s are called The Investigator or The Observer. I’ll go through a couple of traits of an Enneagram Five and how they help me and challenge me in business. Again, please understand this is just a brief overview! The Enneagram is soo much more than just a list of attributes about yourself, good and bad.

  • I value not looking like a fool, so I triple check everything. The downside though is I’m so embarrassed when I do miss something.
  • I have the capability to be objective and neutral, which can be incredibly beneficial while strategically crafting a brand, but it also means I struggle with making decisions.
  • Social situations take a lot of energy from me. I usually need to withdraw after to recharge. Because of this I spread out phone calls and meetings.

I strongly value my privacy and personal space.

  • I strongly value my privacy and personal space. Being a business owner I get to say who, when, where, and decide how much I share (I always think of Pretty Woman here).
  • That leads to another characteristic of a five. We are really, really good at setting boundaries. Like, maybe too good. Boundaries are one way we protect our privacy and it’s a method of self preservation. That shows up in my own business in the way I communicate with clients. I only take calls on certain days and I don’t take calls without scheduling them in advance. The idea of a ‘quick call’ on the fly with a client sends me into a panic. And I absolutely do not text with my clients or do business via social media.
  • Enneagram Five’s have a deep appreciation for beauty, which, duh is so helpful to what I do! Of course that’s beneficial in the brand creation process, but also means I can draw inspiration from anything (for me being outdoors is a huge source of inspiration).
  • Five’s are typically considered emotionally unavailable and cold and uncaring. That’s not true of me, but I do come across that way. Often times I find myself trying to overcompensate for this on calls with potential clients.
  • Just like our name suggests, we are Investigators or Observers. But, we’re often doing repressed. I can research the heck out of something and never actually take action.
  • Weekly commitments are TOUGH. They’re daunting and feel like an invasion of my privacy and personal space. I had to fight through all of these things when I decided to start a blog and when I started a small community of other female entrepreneurs and when I started as the leader of my local Rising Tide Society chapter. I’ve committed to all of these things, but they take a LOT of prep work. I went to Creative South last year and emotionally prepared myself for a whole month.

We are list makers.

  • We are list makers. I mean, have you seen my daily planner or my Asana tasks? This is so true of me. I’m always making lists. Goals, to-do’s, places I want to go, books to read, groceries to buy. In my business making lists helps me stay sane and on track.
  • We’re incredibly dedicated. That’s why I love my clients so much and try to pick projects that I really believe in. If I’m going to be dedicated to it, I want to be passionate about it. And if I wasn’t dedicated I probably would have quit Rhema Design Co a while ago because owning your own business is really dang hard.
  • One of the greatest gifts of a five is simplicity. I’ve really seen this come alive in my design style. I also embody this idea of simplicity in my own business. You won’t find me on every single social platform and doing all the things like some people. I can’t. That’s overwhelming to me.

It’s important to note that you are NOT your number. I am not bound to any of these traits. I will not be stuck here for life. The Enneagram is a tool, not a chain to be carried around your ankle. For me, it’s been incredibly helpful as a tool for personal and spiritual growth.

Ok, that’s a LOT of things, and honestly we’ve really just scratched the surface of the Enneagram.

Have no idea what you Enneagram number is, but want to know? Personally, I’ve found the online tests to be not all that helpful. I really found my number when I started researching it and listening to other experts (I’ll list some resources at the end).

Do you know your number? If so let me know and let’s nerd out together. Curious to learn more about the Enneagram? Here are some resources and people that have really helped me.