Type 3 | The Achiever

TYPE 3

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Sin-Virtue Journey: Deceit to Authenticity

Belief: I can be whoever I need to be to help us all win. Small price to pay for success.

Deepest Fear: If people knew who I really was they would reject me.

Deepest Desire: To be seen and known for who I really am. To be respected and held in high esteem.

How they see/justify their sin: Accomplishment and achievement are some of the greatest goods in life. My ability to adapt and be what the situation demands can help us all win.

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Overview

3’s are, quite frankly, the superstars. They are the best at what they do, not just the rule followers, but the rule-excellers. They are competitive and image obsessed, ambitious, efficient, talented, and crave the spotlight. You can spot a 3 a million miles away on FB as the people who are constantly seeking other’s acknowledgement for their wit, their accomplishments, and even sympathy for their frustrating little daily challenges (you know what I mean… “Couldn’t find a parking spot at the gym again…”).

But going deeper, the 3 is a master actor. 3’s crave validation that they believe that unless they are exceptional, they are nothing. While 2’s want to add value to be accepted, 3’s believe they must be valuable to be accepted. To accomplish this, 3’s learn what kinds of things people want, the types of people they respect, the manner of individual they follow, and the values and traits people like and craft personas (masks, personality traits, etc.) that embody these ideals. Not only to the live as these perfect characters, they tend to take them to the extreme and become larger than life. They become the perfect host, the perfect friend, the perfect confidant, the most successful employee, the most inspiring leader, and at the end of every scenario: the winner.

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3’s believe that these successful, eloquent, suave, winning personas are irresistible. Their perfection makes them impossible to reject. They can’t not be valued because there’s no reason not to. But there’s the rub, even the most master 3 will never achieve the genuine love and acceptance they desire, because what they really fear is that if anyone saw the real them, their authentic, genuine, honest, flawed selves they would be assuredly be dismissed, alone, and found unnecessary and not worth the energy to love.

These masks, then, serve as survival mechanisms at their most desperate. But the journey for the 3 is from Deceit (some say “Vanity”) to Authenticity. The risk of letting someone see behind the curtain is the greatest challenge of the 3’s life. But it’s more than just a chance one takes, it’s dismantling, deconstructing, and disarming all the checks and balances of their perfect covers. It’s a huge gamble and that makes 3’s great characters to watch.

3 wing 2 | Monica Geller, Friends

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Monica is an intense, self-made woman. She is competitive to a fault and desperately wants to always be on top, prepared, and successful. There are times when Monica annoys us with her self-absorbed perfectionism. But there are also times when Monica saves the day because, at the end of the day, she loves her “Friends.”

Toward the end of season 2 we see a storyline where Monica gets a job at a diner. Despite the unfairness of it all, she learns that her slender body type and dark hair don’t earn as many tips as some of her co-workers. So Monica does what any 3 would do in her position: don a comically exaggerated voluptuous body suit and blonde wig. Despite all the hijinks she gets into, they do successfully earn her more money and she (with little protest) adopts this new persona and owns it.

It’s her future husband (spoiler alert) and long-time friend Chandler who gets past her defenses, validates her dreams, ambitions, and fears to win her over and craft a safe place for her to be brave enough to be authentic.

3 wing 4 | The Beast/Prince Adam, Beauty and the Beast

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For this example I’m going to use a combination of the Beast character from the Disney animated classic as well as the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. The challenge with drawing conclusions from either of these representations is that we don’t know a lot about Prince Adam before he was transformed by the Enchantress.

What we do know, however, is that he begins the story as an exceedingly arrogant, self-absorbed, image-obsessed man (why on earth would he ever allow a filthy beggar in his midst? What would that do to his credibility and dignity?) The Enchantress sees this vanity (3w4’s are notorious divas) and determines a punishment suitable to reveal the vulnerabilities of his heart.

The beauty of this narrative is that the story revolves around a 3 who is forced to live with a reality he can’t mask. While average 3’s often have to choose to remove the mask, the Beast is not given that luxury. Everything about him is rejectable. He’s forced to live authentically whether he wants to or not (at least externally). The Beast predictably (per his integrations as a 3) withdraws from society (the stereotypical 9 sin of “sloth”).

What we hope for our protagonist 3 is that he’ll have the courage (his integrated 6 virtue) to let Belle see the real him: someone who’s willing to sacrifice his personal victory for a greater good. (An interesting note, Gaston is also a 3 but one who has no reason or impetus to live authentically. He’s exceedingly vain and irritated beyond all his reason that he can’t get what he feels should be a no-brainer (Belle’s affection). Instead of courage to be authentic, Gaston chooses to prove his worth yet again by rallying the entire village to “win” at all costs. The contrast between our villain and hero is part of the brilliance of this story.)

Integration Lines

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3’s are journeying, as we’ve noted, from Deceit to Authenticity. By “Authenticity” we should be seeing a confession to being flawed. It takes an immense amount of bravery for a 3 to risk this kind of exposure. An integration to the 6 means the 3 beings to show Courage. They take the risks, they accept the gamble. By contrast, a defeated 3 who has lost all hope or exhausted all options to overcome the obstacles in their way or even feels trapped will shut down and withdraw (the 9 sin of “sloth” we’ve mentioned).

Character Coaching

3w4’s work to promote themselves as unlike anyone else (think Lady Gaga). Their uniqueness is their double-edged sword. It could mean they are ridiculed and rejected for it (a strong 4 mentality) or they could end up being celebrated and heralded for it.

By contrast 3w2’s care about people and desperately want people to like them. Consider The Wizard of Oz. He wants to help the people, even genuinely wants to help Dorothy and her friends. But because he’s actually powerless (an authentic reality) he creates a persona to hide behind.

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3’s are intense personalities. They’re known for their high achieving, workaholic, winning at all cost attitudes. They believe they should be celebrated for their deep commitment to being the best and are often confused when people react negatively to this dog-eat-dog philosophy.

3’s can be great anti-heroes and fantastic villains as well. Don Draper from Mad Men is a great example of a super unhealthy 3w4. He’s a winner but hides behind this aloof façade of enigma.

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Considerations

The biggest thing to consider is that when the mask finally comes off, your character must still have a personality, one we recognize. It’s not a complete split personality, 3’s can be authentically competitive and enjoy a sense of productivity and accomplishment.

3’s want, deeply, unconditional love. 2’s can be great support characters for 3’s because they don’t follow them because they are enamored fans, but because they genuinely love them. A 3 can take advantage of a 2 if they’re not careful (consider Gaston again and his friend LeFou).

3’s are likely to have challenges with 8’s (especially if the 8 is in a power position over the 3). 8’s want obedience and 3’s want affirmation. 8’s can parade their prize students, employees, or follower 3’s who will in turn eat up the praise and acknowledgment of the 8. Recipe for glorious disaster.

3’s might also clash with 6’s who resist anyone being too far ahead or behind of anyone else (6’s value equality). They might clash with 7’s who are flippant and might break the rules (a perception from the 3 of winning without honor or unfairly). 3’s might click well with 5’s who have the talent and education but have no interest in the limelight. 4’s are particularly intriguing to 3’s because a 4 will consistently claim that no one could possibly understand them and a 3 will say: challenge accepted. This savior mentality will motivate the 3 until they have tried everything they can think of without ever actually seeing the 4 change and embrace how special and unique they are.

3’s can be great in any role in your story. They are distinctive and easily typecast and can go to whatever depth you want to develop.

Additional Examples

Monica Geller, Friends (TV)

Fernand Mondego, The Count of Monte Cristo

Jack Donaghy, 30Rock

Draco Malfoy, Harry Potter

Billy Flynn, Chicago

GaLinda, Wicked (Broadway)

Melanie Carmichael, Sweet Home Alabama

Jeff Winger, Community

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Type 2 | The Helper

TYPE 2

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Sin-Virtue Journey: Pride to Humility

Belief: I belong because I work harder, am a team player, help wherever I can, and earn it.

Deepest Fear: Being seen as or realizing I am worthless.

Deepest Desire: To add value to the world around me.

How they see/justify their sin: With all I do, appreciation and acknowledgement are the least of what I am entitled to as a human being.

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Overview

The 2 Types are the quintessential sidekicks. They are LeFou, Beauty and the Beast; Kenneth Parcel, 30Rock; and Samwise Gamgee, Lord of the Rings. They are the relentless optimists, hardest workers, and willing to do anything to be of service to the world around them. Their conclusion is that being “helpful” is the greatest good, in fact, more people should just be… helpful.

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Their sin of Pride isn’t what you might think. It’s not arrogance. It’s a belief that with all the work they’ve done, they deserve their spot at the table, acknowledgement from the person they serve, and appreciation that any social convention would demand when someone has sweat blood to make an enterprise or other individual successful. Their belief is “I deserve to be thanked” and “my hard work has earned me my place here.” Their value, thus, is what they do. So they are intent listeners, frantic servants, and loyal companions.

Their journey is toward humility. And their integration lines help with that immensely.

2 wing 1 | Wonder Woman

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The smash superhero hit Wonder Woman shows a mindset that might not be completely in synch with the original character or the animated kids show representation, but Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is an excellent example of a 2w1.

We find her an optimistic young girl who just wants to be a part of the tribe. She learns of the story of their origin and their responsibility as Amazons (to protect the world from Ares, the God of War). It’s from that moment on she trains so she can contribute to the cause. And she becomes amazing.

Throughout the story, however, she displays an incredulity at both why people would ever engage in war (she’s convinced there’s no other explanation than that “mankind” has been brainwashed by Ares) and why the people with power refuse to act quickly or decisively.

Diana’s first trip to the front lines is overwhelming to her. She sees animals trapped in mud, a soldier with a leg blown off, and a mother holding a crying baby and she feels compelled to help them all (demands it even).

What’s interesting about Diana is that you have a 2 (the compulsive “helper”) with almost unlimited power. What you may not know is that Wonder Woman has been a challenge for writers. It’s taken years to find a director who would take the Wonder Woman story. The complaint has been “she’s unrelatable.” She’s almost invincible, has no iconic nemesis, and was raised in a totally foreign manner to the common person. To have a compelling protagonist they have to fall at some point, they have to face life or death, have to overcome their greatest weakness and face their greatest fears.

What the Wonder Woman story did was to give a “2” too many people to “help.” It was brilliant. It worked because it was relatable. With all her power she couldn’t accomplish what she wanted. At the same time, she proved she could eventually make people stop fighting but then faced the deeper issue: running away from the disintegration to the Lust-for-Power 8 and choosing to stay compassionate.

We see her 1 wing in her constant mantra for justice. 2w1’s have a distinct trigger when the situation is unfair or when people are bullied. Diana’s explosion at the British Intelligence meeting is a perfect example of a 2w1 tapping into their righteous motivations.

2 wing 3 | Leslie Knope, Parks and Rec

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Amy Pohler’s hit show Parks and Rec follows the adventures of a small town governmental office overseeing the city’s parks and community events. I’ve gone back and forth on if Leslie is a 2w3 or a 3w2. She certainly has the ambition and obsession with achievement and success to support the 3 theory. What I believe makes her a 2, however, is her self-policing. She often will say an aggressive or critical remark in the midst of a debate and then almost immediately correct herself and state the truth (which almost always fails to support her stance). For example, she’ll say “Ann, you are so stubborn!” and then immediately “That’s not true, you’re a beautiful warrior princess and I love you.” This isn’t typical of a 3 who would value winning above helping and would rather use psychological savvy rather than blatant debate.

At some level, though, Leslie does care about what people think of her. She’s dedicated to the people of her small town of Pawnee and loyal to a fault to her team of employees. The entire series begins (and carries through for the first couple seasons) with her desire to help Ann with her problem of a pit next to her house. She never rests until it’s done and she can fulfill her promise.

Where we see the 2 most clearly though is when she gets the briefest of affirmation from her stubborn boss Ron Swanson or later, the annoyingly perky Chris Trager. Where we love to see Leslie best are the moments when she realizes that her value isn’t in what she does but in who she is. That’s the healthy integration to the 4: my value is inherent and not tied to my actions.

2w1’s help the people they love (and they have huge hearts) because they believe it’s the right thing to do. 2w3’s by contrast help others because of who they believe it means they are (they’re “good people” and just as successful as those they help).

Integration Lines

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The 2 type is journeying from pride to humility. Their need for appreciation, acknowledgement, or affirmation is relinquished as they move toward their virtue of humility and begin to also live into the virtues of their integrated 4: equanimity. Healthy 2’s migrate from the need for validation because of what they do and instead find value inside. They don’t need others to see their worth, they embrace it themselves. They matter because… they do. They’re just as special as everyone else and completely unique just the way they are.

At their worst, 2’s live into the betrayal of those who have failed to see them as worthwhile and begin to take that power for themselves by living into the sin of the 8: Lust. Not a sexual lust, mind you, but a lust for power. 2’s instinctively go above and beyond to be recognized for their contributions, in their mind it’s undeniable that they matter. But given enough rejection, oppression, being taken advantage of, or bullied and 2’s will flip. They’ll break rules, get vengeful, and end up bitter.

Character Coaching

2’s are notoriously support characters. They’re lovable, often the comic relief, and loyal to a fault. The challenge with making a 2 a protagonist is in separating them from the rest of the herd so we can watch their story. That being said, 2’s are the iconic underdogs. They are easy targets for bullying (because it’s not often important to them to get on the level playing field with other types, many of whom are more selfish, self-absorbed, or competitive). We want the 2’s to win because everyone can see some of themselves in the 2.

For antagonists, consider that the storyline for a 2 villain is a character who has been hurt. Bullied victims who work to regain some kind of power or a character who spends time planning or enacting some revenge are good places to start. Just remember: a 2 has been rejected in some form to turn them to the dark side.

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Consider Rowan North from the Ghostbusters remake (with Melissa McCarthy and Kristin Wiig). Here you have a janitor at a hotel who is constantly taken for granted, ordered around, and spoken to like a second-class citizen. He begins to put things in motion to release ghosts into the world as a way of punishing those who have hurt him. We want him to take the advice of the ghostbusters and realize that he’s worth being treated with respect and dignity. He doesn’t and we get an epic interdimensional battle.

Considerations

Andi Sachs from the movie The Devil Wears Prada is a great example of a 2’s victory. At the end of the movie she walks away from her controlling boss, throws her phone in a fountain and never looks back. She bravely walks away from the source of her (albeit limited) affirmation and reclaims her individuality and lives into her 4.

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2’s are idealists. They live into utopian fantasies about life, about how people should act, about how close the world is to perfection, and tend to believe the best about people. A broken 2 will be uncharacteristically skeptical about people, hesitant, and vigilant about boundaries. They want to believe the world is a wonderful place and may live on a perpetual roller coaster of hope and disappointment.

Additional Examples

Elphaba, Wicked (Broadway)

Ana, Frozen

Edmund Dantes, The Count of Monte Cristo

Kimmy Schmidt, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (TV)

Wormtail/Peter Pettigrew, Harry Potter (series)

Dory, Finding Nemo/Finding Dory

Mia Thermopolis, The Princess Diaries

Type 1 | The Reformer

TYPE 1

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Sin-Virtue Journey: Anger to Serenity

Belief: There’s something wrong with the world and it starts with me.

Deepest Fear: Discovering or realizing they are “bad.”

Deepest Desire: Integrity and holiness.

How they see/justify their sin: Nothing is more important than pursuing righteousness.

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Overview

The 1 Type is known as the “Reformer.” This type sees the world through a lens of “right and wrong” or “black and white.” There’s a right way to do things and they discipline themselves to embody that righteousness. They inherently believe they are the chiefest of sinners and thus live with perpetual regret, self-condemnation, and a strict code of lifelong penance. “Anger” in this context isn’t necessarily a temper problem. Instead, the 1’s I’ve met in real life have an undertone of perpetual frustration with themselves and the world around them. The journey, thus, is toward serenity.

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An interesting observation about the 1 Type: they don’t necessarily live by an objective moral code. It’s not necessarily a religious fanaticism (although that can certainly be a part of it, especially if your character is a villain or anti-hero) but it is an adherence to a worldview that makes sense to them. 1’s can be difficult to manipulate because they’re so busy “catching up” on their own sense of righteousness, but should the character’s sage gain enough influence, your “1” can become an extremist who can also be turned martyr should their conviction go deep enough.

1 wing 9 | Bruce Banner / The Incredible Hulk

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Bruce Banner is a great example of a 1w9 character. His inner demon (which actually becomes an outer demon all too frequently) causes him incredible pain and regret. He can’t contain it. There’s a literal “sin” inside him that forces him to act outside of his control. He’s constantly living in a state of regret and (at least in the Avenger movies) is reasoned with to help atone for his sins by helping right the bigger wrongs.

An iconic Bruce Banner exchange: “Don’t you have to get angry?” “That’s my secret… I’m always angry.” Bruce has a 9 wing because his response to his sin is to withdraw. 9’s want peace and Bruce believes his isolation will protect himself and others from his uncontrollable… issues. In the first Avenger movie he’s sequestered away in India. In the second, he leaves the group in a stealth plane. He doesn’t move toward people, he moves away from them to protect them from himself.

1 wing 2 | Princess Leia, Star Wars

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One of my all-time favorite movie sagas. While Leia isn’t the central protagonist, she is an archetypal 1w2. She has an unwavering commitment to her mission, her duty, her people, and to the peace of the galaxy. She rarely gives herself the luxury of a break, can get frustrated when people don’t take the matter at hand seriously, works relentless hard and doesn’t seem to mind life-threatening danger in the name of her cause. What distinguishes her as a 1w2 is the fact that when challenged by her crusade, she moves toward people. She believes helping, supporting, and fighting for others is the expression of her sense of justice and duty. She values people, listens to them, places herself between those she’s protecting and the danger at hand. She never once considers abandoning her quest or her post (a 1w9 would likely be more prone to isolation and withdrawal). She’s (arguably) an unsung hero in this saga being one of the few characters to never really be dominated by, seduced by, or broken by “the dark side” (something to consider when crafting a 1 character: their biggest demons are almost always internal).

Integration Lines

For your 1 character you should consider the spectrum of unhealthy to healthy.

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1’s at their worst exhibit the negative sin of the 4 type: envy. This sin is the belief that “everyone has something figured out that I don’t.” That can cause them to become depressive, reclusive, feel rejected and isolated, or potentially make them even angrier or bitter. There’s an inner monologue of betrayal: I’m working so hard to be good but no one else agrees or is making an effort to address all that’s wrong with the world. What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with them?

1’s at their best lighten up and take on the virtue of the 7 Type. They let their hair down a bit, give themselves a break (and the others around them) and find their serenity by indulging in a few luxuries. This is so easy to illustrate and what makes 1’s great protagonists. We all want the relief of watching this character calm the hell down and smile.

Character Coaching

Hero 1’s are easier to write in ensemble because the buffer of more lighthearted characters can help pull readers/viewers away from what can come off as irritable and judgmental personas. Stand alone 1’s would work well with a peppy best friend or some kind of comic relief in their lives. They need people who care about them to help pull them out of their swirl of despair. But ultimately it’s their inner demons they have to face.

Villain 1’s are pretty iconic. Javert from Les Miserables is a good example of a villain 1. He’s doing the right thing but feels terrible about it. He complains that to resent justice simply doesn’t make sense to him (even though that’s exactly how he feels). You sin: you pay the price. The worst position he finds himself in is at the mercy of the “sinner” who’s acted with more nobility than himself. He finds himself in conflict over what the “right” thing to do is and it eventually overwhelms him.

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1’s can also be great foils for protagonists who have a hard time staying on task (7’s and 5’s maybe) but also can be good motivators for paralyzed or depressive 9’s or 4’s. They can be great competitors or dispassionate judges especially in storylines where meticulously following the rules is the environmental/situational villain (where the moral of the story is: lighten up.)

Considerations

I’ve heard it said that 1’s are notoriously optimistic about what they can accomplish in a given time frame. Thus 1’s (for all their striving for perfection) tend to be late to everything, apologize often, and can have lives that feel “out of their control.” It’s primarily an internal issue, the striving for perfection. Thus, exaggerated character 1’s may have messy living conditions, not worry much about their personal appearance, have addictive healthy regimens (like push themselves to exercise quite a bit too much), have personal crusades and often be found on soapboxes, and even pushing their penance onto others (especially 1w2’s) by invading their personal space or independence in an effort to “do the right thing.”

1’s can often get confused with 8’s. Here’s a fundamental difference I’ve found: both types say “something’s wrong with the world” but 1’s say: “I’m part of the problem.” 8’s believe “all of you are part of the problem.” 1’s tend to stand alone, 8’s tend to command a crowd and constantly be recruiting followers to their righteous causes. If your character is too worried about getting people to do the right thing, you may be working with an 8 instead of a 1.

Remember that 1’s may have their own “moral code” they’re following, not something objective. Their “gut” or “instinct” is driving the car and many just say “because it’s the right thing to do” without a lot of reference. 1’s also are almost never the perfectionists they claim to be. They’re not showy (like 3’s who actually do want to be perfect). They often betray their sensibilities but never without determining the punishment/penance required for such transgressions in advance. Thus, a common theme is: there is always something to regret.

Healthy 1’s are incredible assets to a team. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to incorporate their relentlessly hard working attitudes or fail to cash in on their willingness to be martyrs for a cause.

Additional Examples

Spock, Star Trek

Britta Perry, Community (TV)

Jon Snow, Game of Thrones

Frollo, Hunchback of Notre Dame (villain)

Ronan, Guardians of the Galaxy (villain)

 

Enneagram Basics | Three Basic Elements

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Enneagram | The 3 Basic Elements

The Enneagram is in one sense a very simple concept, but in another the most complicated, sophisticated, adaptable, and potentially subjective profile tool out there. I’ve been using it for a couple years now and still feel like I’m only scratching the surface of what’s truly available to me with this tool. It’s absolutely brilliant and with the various complexities it contains, has an infinite number of possibilities (which is great for storytelling as you tailor your characters).

There are so many layers and nuance to the Enneagram but for a primer level discussion I believe there are 3 elements to understand:

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The 9 Enneagram “Types.”

I’ll be honest, I hate the term “type.” The Enneagram is intriguing to be because unlike many of its counterparts (such as DISC or Myers Briggs) it is not a personality profile. I want to make that clear. The Enneagram isn’t describing if you like to be around people or if you get details or if you’re artistic or live according to some objective moral code. The Enneagram is something entirely different.

I wish that difference was easy to summarize, but that’s what makes it beautifully philosophical. The Enneagram is rooted in an Eastern philosophy outlining the “9 fragments of the soul.” Each point on the Enneagram is a tension between a sin and virtue combination (anger and serenity; pride and humility; fear and courage; gluttony and sobriety, etc.). We Westerners love to take these ideas and say “what’s your type?” “I’m a ___.” That’s not exactly how it works. Every sin and virtue combination should be cultivated in one’s life. Every human on earth will have moments of anger or greed or envy.

It’s not about ever experiencing that emotion, it’s about the primary lens through which you evaluate the world around you. It’s how you react to your fears and insecurities (and more importantly WHY you choose to respond the way you do). It’s about what you need and how you’re likely to respond if you don’t get it. It’s about how we interact with people and what we believe about our potential, our future, and our survival.

Your “type” is the place on the circle you tend to sit at, much like King Arthur’s round table and that “type” probably makes sense to you, probably reflects how you see the world, and probably reveals the primary challenges you face in the deepest part of who you are.

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The 18 “Wings”

As you can see, the Enneagram is drawn in a circle. While each type is numbered, they’re not a hierarchy, they’re just… seats at the table. One of the fascinating elements of the Enneagram and how it’s laid out is that each type is influenced (maybe strongly, maybe subtly) by the two types on either side (the “wings”). It’s an important distinction because it can affect the flavor of the expression of the primary type or put another way, it can explain how it makes sense to you to address the sin of your primary type.

For example, the “1” type tends to be focused on the right and wrong, black and white of the world. There’s a “right way to do things,” but for the “1” they believe the failure to live righteously starts with them. 1’s tend to be hard on themselves, live with regrets, frustrations that they haven’t been good enough, and put their greatest efforts into disciplining and punishing themselves into right living.

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But a 1 with a 9 wing is pretty distinct from a 1 with a 2 wing. A 1w9 is likely to withdraw as they work out themselves striving for the serenity (the 1’s signature virtue) in peacemaking and even isolation.

The 1w2 however is much more likely to press into relationships. This type is more likely to see their penance played out in making the people in their world better (because helping people is the “right thing to do.”)

1w9’s pull away, 1w2’s press in. It’s a big distinction but at the core of it all is still a soul angry at itself and the world for falling short of ideal and striving for serenity in the midst of the darkness.

One last thought to consider, the wings are a great place to start in cultivating a healthy character. (A humanitarian superstar 3w2 would actually benefit a lot from having some of the artistic, creative 4 wing nurtured in their lives.)

The Paths of Integration

Once you’ve identified a type and the influencing wings, the last primary element to consider is how healthy is your character. The unique geometric figure (the “enneagram”) is more than an icon, it’s actually a traced path between the numbers connecting them in a web of unhealthy to healthy.

The Enneagram suggests that the primary type (in tension between its sin and virtue) is not the only journey the soul can take. The integration lines are the two numbers connected to the primary type and illustrate the sin observed when the character is in a dark, unhealthy emotional state and the virtue added when reaching a point of health.

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For example, the 3 type is about masks. Vanity or deceit are the signature sins and the battle for authenticity is the soul’s task for the 3. This type is inherently ambitious, wants the spotlight, tends to scoff at obstacles to achievement, success, or getting what they want. They’re the golden children, the perfectionists, or maybe even the dog-eat-dog business superstars. They can be the most inspiring of figureheads or the most offensively competitive of opponents.

The disintegration of a 3 is the 9 type. What that means is that 3’s rarely accept defeat, but when they do, they can go depressive and withdraw. They begin to take on the sin of the 9 which is “sloth.” 3’s who feel like there’s no hope, no way around an obstacle, or no way to win can shut down and escape. It’s the loss of ambition, a numbing, overwhelming sense of failure, and the sheer devastation that they simply cannot finish the journey even with the use of their best “masks.”

A healthy three, however, integrates to the 6 Type and begins to express the virtue of “courage.” They come out of the limelight they crave as a 3 and join the equality and community of the group as an average participant. They bravely begin to shed the masks (the persona’s they present to get what they want or to win people over) and let people start to see the real them (their real quirks, fears, weaknesses, insecurities, etc.) and wait to see if they will be accepted or rejected for those authentic attributes of who they are.

Summary

There are other elements of the Enneagram to consider that can affect the expression of a character or person’s make up, but these are the basics. Start with questions like: who is this character? What do they want? What will they do to get it? What will they do if they don’t get it? How do they see the world? And most importantly: who will this character become through the journey?

By using these evaluative tools you can begin to see the world through your character’s eyes. When something happens, how are they likely to react? How does it support or devastate their values? How does it prey on their fears? How does the event, challenge, or quest give or take away what this character wants most? Ask these questions to let your characters lead your story instead of having them react to the circumstances you hope to create.

Make your characters believable, then we can see a bit of us in them and go on the journey ourselves.

If you’re a nerd like me, here’s some more complex descriptions you could study:

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Image result for enneagram wings

Storytelling | Enneagram-ing Your Characters | Intro

Welcome to my little project. This and the posts that follow are 100% my opinion, 100% because I’m a nerd at heart, and 100% because I just wanted to do something creative. The Enneagram has become one of the most fascinating tools in my arsenal of learning to understand people better and the most sophisticated resource I’ve come across. So read ahead accordingly. It’s all just a bit of fun.

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I’ve done a bit of creative writing over the years. It’s so much harder than I thought it’d be because a) I struggle with imagination, b) writing has never been my strong suit, and c) I tend to tackle it logically, clinically, and in a somewhat formulaic manner. Learning the artistry side of writing stretches me (probably a healthy move for a 3w2 to cultivate my 4 wing a bit more). But one thing I think does help me is my ability to craft character profiles. It’s why I think this is worth considering. I think the strongest stories are the ones with characters who are consistent, who lead the story instead of react to it. So without further or do, here’s an intro as to why I think it matters.

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In storytelling, the characters we follow are representations of who we are at our very core. They go on the adventures we could only hope to have. They face the horrors we fear to face, the victories we dream to prevail over, and become the people we wonder if we’ll ever become. What makes a character great is when they suffer in a way that’s closely or distantly familiar to us, when they face loss, experience pain, confront insurmountable obstacles, face demons, confront bullies, or even endure the dispassionate natural disasters or threats i

n the world around us. It’s who they come out as on the other side that’s the big mystery, the big reveal. We hold our breath to wonder if it’s truly possible to weather the storms, to come out on the other side more or less… okay. We are scared of scars, fear trauma, and are fundamentally terrified of the unknown. Stories help us consider the possibilities and give us a chance to ask: in a similar circumstance, would I make it?

Life and death are the most fundamental realities we comprehend. And by taking our characters to the brink of life and death, we explore that basic primal reality and determine how we will live accordingly.

I say all this because stories that touch us deeply have to be at some level relatable (we may not understand what it’s like to be a Hobbit but we can understand the need to come out of comfort and move into bravery) but also believable. While the complexity of the human soul is far too sophisticated to fully catalog, a tool like the Enneagram can help make a character make sense. Not everyone is identical, we know that. We’re not creating robots and merely changing their programming. We’re crafting beings with ideals, personalities, hopes, fears, norms, pain, and at some fundamental level we understand as both writers and readers that any given character has limitations based on their make up.

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Bilbo Baggins was happy, like many of his Hobbit brethren, before being whisked away into his journey “There and Back Again.” A 9 on the Enneagram, his desire was for peace, for stability, and to more or less be left alone to live out the serenity of his nice little life. We’d expect him to get agitated or anxious when that stability was threatened (a disintegrated 6) but we also celebrate when he begins to find his own purpose and start to live into it (an integrated 3). We hope he’d make the move from sloth, laziness, or disengagement toward engagement, purpose, and productivity. That’s a character we understand, even when he acted outside that, he followed the basic philosophies of the Enneagram.

What we would have been confused to see is for him to get sidetracked by all the beautiful elf maidens and forget his quest in a brothel (more of a 7 move, maybe like Captain James T. Kirk from Star Trek). Or for him to get depressed and lament “no one understands me” maybe giving up entirely that someone more qualified should probably take on the quest (much like his 4 nephew Frodo). That just isn’t Bilbo Baggins. He’s the optimist, he rallies the troops, supports the angsty Thorin Oakenshield when he loses his mind to entitlement and dark withdrawal. He’s not the character we need if he’s a dominating 8, a skittish 6, or an image-obsessed or vain 3.

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One of the biggest mistakes a storyteller can make is to craft a character that in essence betrays who they are by becoming what the story needs instead of acting as they would according to their personality and make up. Older cinema, for example, is hard to Enneagram because they were often one dimensional, reactionary, and idealist. Their journeys were mostly external. Consider Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. I find her Enneagram far more difficult to define than the great supporting cast around her (the Scarecrow 5, the Tin Man 4, the Cowardly Lion 9 (who lived a lot in his disintegrated 6), the Deceitful Wizard 3). Many of these iconic characters acted according to where the story teller wanted to go instead of considering what this character needed, how they’d respond, what they’d do in the face of their fears, and who they’d ultimately become through the course of their journey.

Storytellers don’t have to sacrifice a great plot, give up an innovative concept, or forego a complex world. But they will find a great deal more depth in their finished product by considering who they’ve sent on these journeys by considering the personalities of who their characters are.

This goes for heroes/protagonists, villains, supporting characters, sages, even anti-heroes. Everyone has a motivation. Villains, especially, become far more compelling when they act according to their Enneagram. A villain might actually be “healthy” on their Enneagram but might merely have a conflicting ideal with our protagonist or even a competitive goal. More often than not, though, a villain will be operating out of their sin or disintegration and understanding their motivations, dysfunctions, and general unhealthiness can make them far more compelling, interesting, even sympathetic. Gone are the days when storytelling was compelling as merely good defeating evil. Characters who are relatable, even villains and anti-heroes, are deeper and more engaging. And those are the characters with whom we journey best.

Next post we’ll break down exactly what the Enneagram gives us/tell us and then we’ll start tackling each Enneagram type in more detail.

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The four adventures I could have had… and didn’t.

Regret isn’t a hard thing for me.  I think back to conversations and opportunities all the time and rehearse them.  What would I have done differently, said differently, how would I have reacted.  Risk is almost never a regret for me.   No matter how amazing it sounds, risk is always something I take to prove to myself I can take it…I rarely get the coveted “rush” from taking a chance.

However, there are a few things I just really wish would have happened.  These were viable options, legitimate opportunities and in hind sight, would have been amazing adventures.  One day I’ll make up for it.  Believe me.

The south island of New Zealand

For any of you who have seen Lord of the Rings, many of the landscapes in the movie are taken from the south island of New Zealand.  I was fortunate enough to have a dream come true and make it to New Zealand back in 2010 but only visited the north island.

Belize’s famous Blue Hole

One of the natural wonders of central America, coastal Belize has a phenomena called the Blue Hole.  In the middle of rather shallow waters you find this perfectly round hole that goes miles into the earth.  You can even tell from the picture that the depth changes dramatically.  I don’t get weird about swimming in deep water, but we’re talking deep here!

Vietnam

I had the choice between a boat ride up the Mekong river (which was incredible) and a visit to Vietnam.  While I wouldn’t have traded my awesome boat ride, everything I hear about Vietnam makes me want to go.  The famous Black Kat burger (it’s like 10 lbs of meat people…) the boats, the culture, the history and the food.  All of it sounds incredible.

Skydiving

For my sister Joy’s 18th birthday I reserved us a jump.  We got half way to the launch site and a torrential rainstorm began.  We called and they ended up cancelling the jump.  That was almost 10 years ago and I’ve never made up for it.

Any other adventures you had the chance to take but didnt?

The four things I never, ever want to do again

Adventures are exhilarating and the adrenaline rushes can be memorable, but there are just a few things, let’s be honest, that we all would never do again.  I picked up a little life lesson from an old mentor of mine: “I’ll try anything once.”  I want to be the kind of person who tries new things (because honestly, I’m not that person, I have almost no curiosity to speak of).  I do things because I want to say I’ve done them and it’s more distasteful for me to be ignorant than for me to experience something I don’t end up enjoying.

So here’s my list of “never again’s”:

Eat balut

For those of you who don’t know, balut is a delicacy in Asia.  They are sold for pennies on the street and eaten as snacks.  It doesn’t taste as bad as it looks, but hard boiled, fertilized duck egg is just a hard thing to … well swallow.  The egg I tried had been fertilized for 21 days before it was prepared, the best ones are hard boiled at 18 days.  The additional days meant that the inside had a body cavity I couldn’t bite through, a small beak beginning to form and little feathers… yeah… never again.

Ride in an African bus for 22 hours

Friends, I know many of you have had worse, and longer, and more horrific experiences and I do not discount those, but for my personal experience, the hellish journey, the heat, the smell and the claustrophobia were just a once in a lifetime deal for me.  Twenty. Two. Hours.

Brush my teeth with Guatemalan tap water

Guatemala and I have a love/hate relationship.  I love Guatemala and Guatemala’s intestinal parasites love me.   Enough said.

Touch the floor in China

Sometimes you just stick with what you’re best at.  China does walls but not floors.  The country and culture (and food) have some incredible things to rave about…the hygiene and sanitation is not one of them (at least in the places I personally visited…grain of salt).  Squatty potty water should not be used to mop the carpet…the c.a.r.p.e.t.  But maybe that’s just me.

What else you got?  Anything you’d never do again?