By Jamuna Rangachari July 2010 Enneagram, a personality test, analyses all the various types of people and guides us to focus on our strengths and work on our achilles heel In Parenting“Amma, I made this for you,” said my daughter and was disappointed when I was a little preoccupied. “Oh, she is always eager for praise,” said her brother trying to tease her even more. Now, with my understanding of her as a type two, I can see clearly both her strength and weakness. Yet, while we cannot influence or change their personalities, it is important to recognise and respect their individualities so that they remain completely healthy in their types. Again, like adults, most children are a mix of various types but it would still help to understand their core type so that one can fulfil what they expect and desire as given below.Type OneMay wish for self-control, reasonableness, regularity, and perfectionType TwoMay wish for generosity, thoughtfulness, helpfulness, and praiseType ThreeMay wish for being outstanding at tasks, fulfilling family hopes, physical perfection, and popularityType FourMay wish for sensitivity, artistic creativity, emotional depth, and understandingType FiveMay wish for independence, intellectual gifts, and satisfaction of their curiosityType SixMay wish for dependability, obedience, perseverance, and trustworthinessType SevenMay wish for vitality, good humour, resilience, and spontaneity Type EightMay wish for toughness, self-sufficiency, courage, and willpowerType NineMay wish for quietness, gentleness, and lack of expectations from others My mother-in-law, with nine children, knows the approach that will work with each. “Sheela will never agree to this. Radha might. Girija might also join in,” she would say, when a family function was being planned. She knew that though Sheela hated noisy events and fanfare, she was the most capable among the siblings of taking on responsibility. Subhash Karkare (name changed), my boss at my previous organisation, would spend at least a week assessing the interests and core motivation of the others. It was only afterwards, that he would assign tasks, and make teams that worked stupendously well.Though they never had any knowledge of the Enneagram, life was their teacher. This is equally true of any good parent, managers, leaders, counsellors, and planners. They intuitively know what works with whom, as everyone marches to a different drummer.Applying this approach formally, the Enneagram identifies people as nine types of personalities, so that one has a new insight into the textures of the soul.Why the understanding?“When we understand ourselves and make our core strength stronger, we can move ahead and work on the weaknesses,” said Vijay Bhat beginning his workshop on Enneagram. “We can surely be more effective if we understand others and their core motivation,” he stated and began explaining all the personality types asking the participants to note down their understanding. Though all of us had taken an online psychometric test, he asked us to focus on the core concepts, and discard the scores if they did not resonate well.With examples from history, and characters from cinema and books, the understanding of each type fulfilling a specific role became clearer. For instance, I was initially taken aback when I saw the examples of Mahatma Gandhi and Aurangzeb in the same frame. Delving into their inner being, we understood how at the personal level, Aurangazeb used to write copies of the Koran and lead a spartan life. For Gandhi, truth and non-violence were paramount. No matter what the issue, he could never compromise on this. He even called off the Quit India movement at the peak of its success, as non-violence was compromised at Champaran. With this understanding, the type one personality became vivid and clear. Similarly, for all the types, the participants began seeing a pattern throughout history and in one’s own relationships.A friend of mine shared an example: “’We have to switch off the fan and AC. Don’t you remember that it is Earth Day,’ my husband said, and began doing just that. He knew I was extremely tired and simply did not want to switch off the fans or AC on the hot, stuffy day. In his usual style, he just went ahead. Earlier, this may have resulted in a lot of heartache and anger, but understanding him as a type one made it much easier for me, a type two, to see it in the right perspective. I joined him and the hour passed away quickly and easily.”Applying the teachings helped me understand a type two friend of mine. “I have to be there for Rahul,” my friend would say even when her son was 18, and could take good care of himself. The epitome of a caring mother, she would iron his clothes, keep his bag ready, and even serve him food. Even with her friends, she always responded with a helping hand, but often felt bitter that they did not reciprocate fully. The turning point came when her son started to respond to her calls with, “I will call later, mom. I have to go out with my friends.” Completely distraught, she cried on many shoulders saying, “I have never slept at night, when he had exams.” Fortunately, her sister counselled her to start leading her own life, and revive her own interests.“Why can’t he relax?” I would often think when I saw my brother struggling constantly to achieve all the benchmarks in his company. Naturally, as a type three, this was in his DNA. He just could not let any opportunity pass.An ex-colleague of mine used to be rattled at deadlines and pressures. A typical type four who was a brilliantly creative programmer and designer, he would insist on working at his own pace. “John, we will have to finish this first,” the management would say but John would decide the priorities himself. Fortunately, his brilliant results were seen and appreciated by all and so, the company made sure that they let him set the priorities.While at a fair, I was quite intrigued to see my cousin studying the movement of the wheels in the giant wheel, rather than just relax and enjoy the ride. Understanding him as a type five, I understood why he was so intent on analysis.“I had to always prove that the company values were paramount, even if I did not fully resonate with them,” says Anusha (name changed) who identified herself as a type six in the workshop and vowed to be more vocal.“Doesn’t she ever get tired?” people would comment of my friend, Farah. With a day full of social commitments and a full-time job, she still would never cease seeking adventure and new experiences. Naturally, she was a type seven, wasn’t she?“I had to bring about a change in the way the organisation works,” says Rama, a banker who never tires of filing petitions and approaching authorities to correct a wrong. So much so that “contact Rama if you have a problem” has now become the slogan in her bank.“Why can’t Amma voice her opinion, and take a stance, so that things move faster?” I would wonder often about my mother- in-law. The understanding of her as a type nine, made it much easier for me to understand and appreciate her. Essentially, with all types, one can identify and see the weaknesses and strengths in each and move towards better understanding.Moving aheadThere is usually one primary type, with secondary traits from other types. To understand others and ourselves, we must read the descriptions carefully and do some observation. Similarly, even in our relationships, recognising the types of others can really help us deal with their needs. For instance, as parents or teachers, one can play a great role if we allow the child to be his own self. (See box on parenting.) Let us not forget that the point of the Enneagram is to help us to become better observers of others and our own self so that we can be free of old, self-destructive patterns.Nancy DeSouza, a seeker from Mumbai, who realised that her type was two, understood why she was so different from others. She worked on her strengths, and ensured she steered clear of expecting other people to appreciate her efforts.Neelam Mehta, a writer and seeker, who is a type nine, rates Enneagram as her first spiritual breakthrough. “Understanding the patterns in the universe, and recognising that others had differing motives, made my relationships stronger, and thus, my entire life more peaceful,” she says. An enneagram workshop conducted by Vijay and Nilima Bhatt Truly, the Enneagram is an enabler and not just a categorisation. As Kate Taylor, an acclaimed Enneagram teacher and spiritual seeker, said, “On one end, the Enneagram shows us nine personality types, and on the other, it can be seen as nine facets of the Divine. It is not like you are just one or the other, we are humans with personalities and our truest deepest nature is divine, spiritual. If you understand the psychology of what is driving you, the motivation of what is creating your personality, that understanding can also open your awareness and deepen your contact with the Divine.” One can take any number of tests but it is only by deep understanding of your core motivation that progress takes place. So, let us begin with analysing ourselves better and thus fulfil our mission in life.Type One: The ReformerEssentially, type ones are the rational, orderly type. Principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionist, they are concerned with maintaining quality and high standards. They focus on details, and like to improve and streamline procedures. They are often good at coaching others on how to improve themselves, be more efficient, and do things correctly. Well-organised and orderly, they can also be overly critical of themselves and others. They dislik
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