Inspire Envisioning

Expression. Craft. Completion.


Leave a comment

Nine Ways to Connect with Inspiration

We’ve all felt the urge to make something new. For many of us, it’s a powerful impulse in our lives. When we tap into creativity, it gives us the ability to transform our work, engage in play, connect with ourselves, bring new things into the world, and change our outlook on daily life. However, creativity can be elusive. When we’re tired, busy, or overwhelmed, it becomes hard for ideas to flow. At other times, inspiration sends all kinds of messages in our direction, but if we don’t cultivate or can’t afford the dedication and discipline to fully engage with them, they fly away like leaves in the wind.

Fortunately, there are tricks we can use to get ideas flowing when the going is slow. This month, let’s look to the Enneagram’s personality types for nine different ideas to connect with inspiration. The prompts below aren’t definitive of the Enneagram types; rather, they reflect just a few possibilities inspired by different personalities’ energy and focus. Take them as a jumping off point. Try them out, see what works for you, and feel free to invent your own!

One: Connect with an important value.
What motivates you to create your work in the first place? Consider the larger purpose of the work you want to do. Brainstorm ways of creating in alignment with this value, and try one of them out.

Two: Make something with someone else in mind.
Think of an important person in your life and ask yourself what you can create that they’d enjoy or find interesting. This is especially fun when you create something very different from what you’d normally do.

Three: Create something really bad.
Sure, it’s great when your creation turns out well, but today, try making bad art. What’s the worst thing you could make or idea you could engage with? You can also try an art form you’re no good at, just for fun.

Four: Investigate a personal memory.
Reflect on an event in your past that shaped who you are today. What emotions are associated with it? What did the scenery look like? Why does this memory stand out for you? Use it as a creative springboard.

Five: Use a question as a prompt.
What is something you’ve always wondered about? Follow your curiosity as far as it goes. Dig into research. Ask, “What if?” Use your questioning and discovery as a starting point to make something new.

Six: Commit to a “date” with your creative work.
Mark out a time on your calendar to engage creatively. Disconnect from the Internet and social media, unless these are part of your creative process. Show up and create for the allotted time, and see what happens.

Seven: What if anything were possible?
If you could do anything you wanted to do, what would you choose? How would your life be different? Give yourself permission to imagine any and all possibilities. Incorporate at least two of them in your work.

Eight: Get moving.
Walk, dance, exercise…get up and move around. Get your energy flowing and see what ideas show up as you move. Sense your body and stay in touch with this awareness while you create something.

Nine: Go somewhere peaceful.
Find a place where you don’t normally work that inspires a feeling of peace. This might be a quiet place at home, a busy cafe where you feel at home, or somewhere outdoors. Create something in this new setting.

If you’re seeking further inspiration or interested in the connections between the Enneagram and creativity, check out my new e-book, Nine Paths to Creativity. If you’ve already received my previous e-book, you can get a copy of the new one by e-mailing me or using the contact form.  

What prompts or practices inspire you when you’re in a creative slump? Do you have a favorite? Share your ideas in the comments.

 


Leave a comment

How Your Conflict Resolution Style Can Help You Cope with Change

Enneagram teacher Russ Hudson speaks of a trap that we can fall into: when we set up our lives just the way we like them and everything is flowing along smoothly, we can think we have it made. But whenever we depend on external circumstances for our happiness and stability, we are building on shaky ground, because changes are inevitable. In the long run, the cultivation of inner resources and resilience creates a far more solid foundation.  

We can look at our Enneagram type as a strategy for dealing with life’s ups and downs. Our ego seeks a particular form of familiarity in life, but it also provides hidden strengths that we can bring forward when the going gets rough. It can teach us how to deal with change, and point us to times when change is beneficial or even necessary. One aspect of the Enneagram is particularly useful for understanding and coping with various aspects of change: our conflict resolution strategy, or Harmonic group. Understanding which approach we use can help us draw on our strengths in facing change, and apply new approaches we may not typically use.

The Emotional Realness Triad (Enneagram types 4, 6, and 8) brings emotions to the forefront in times of change. These types naturally use the strategy of digging up truths about where they and others stand and what problems they’re dealing with. Seeking to get to the bottom of things, they may be the first to recognize when a change is needed, and to deal with the messy emotional realities that it involves. Emotional realness types can draw on the strategies of the other two triads to strategize and contextualize changes.  

The Competency Triad (Enneagram types 1, 3, and 5) brings the gift of problem solving. When something changes, these types easily brainstorm ways of coping, bringing in logic and reason. They have the ability to remain impartial and strategic. What’s the best way to handle the changes that arise? Drawing on the strengths of the other triads can help them cut through the brainstorming to identify strategies that are also emotionally resonant and move them toward their best outcome.

The Positive Outlook Triad (Enneagram types 2, 7, and 9) brings in the big picture. Less daunted by change than the other styles, these types have the ability to take a bird’s-eye view of its implications and imagine the positive consequences that can result. What can this change bring me? Why does it matter? Their contextualizing ability often enables them to maintain positivity even when the immediate situation is less than ideal. Bringing in the other two styles can ground their optimism in wise action.   

Recognizing our default way of tackling change is useful for expanding it. When we access the strengths of all three styles, we deal more effectively with the changes life springs on us, and are able to initiate positive changes and solutions for ourselves. One thing’s for sure: change happens. No life can stay static. We can learn to draw on our inner as well as outer resources to handle change constructively.


Leave a comment

Five Enneagram Audio and Video Resources We Love

Last month, we shared some wonderful Enneagram books from the Resources section in The Modern Enneagram. This month, we’d like to spotlight audio and video resources that bring something unique to the Enneagram conversation. Recent forms of online learning have been huge assets for bringing new perspectives on the Enneagram to the comfort of your own home, and the wealth of resources that you can listen to or watch add an immersive dimension that you can’t get from book learning.

We had a lot of fun creating our own Problem Solving Through Personality audio recordings, as a quick and accessible way of teaching about the Enneagram at work, and speaking about communication styles and the autism spectrum on AASCEND TV. We aren’t the only ones who’ve made use of the strengths of audiovisual learning. These modalities lend themselves beautifully to interviews, personal examples, and auditory or kinesthetic methods of transformation. From an at-home conference experience to a “video panel” of the masters to audio downloads that will put you to sleep (in a good way: take note, insomniacs!), here are five audiovisual resources that we’ve found both enjoyable and groundbreaking.

  1. The Enneagram Global Summit

First up, we highly recommend the biggest audio event in the Enneagram world. If you’ve ever been to an Enneagram conference, you know how exciting it is to be surrounded by leaders in the field, immersed in the exchange of new ideas. The Enneagram Global Summit brings this dynamic experience to anyone who wants to listen in. Starting in 2015, the Summits have featured such experienced and cutting-edge voices as Dr. Claudio Naranjo, Russ Hudson, Helen Palmer, Dr. Dan Siegel, Cheryl Richardson, the Enneagram Prison Project, and many more! The 2017 Enneagram Global Summit, from June 5-9, will feature over 40 speakers with incredible insights to share. You can sign up here to listen, or to order the recording after the event has taken place.

  1. Tom Condon’s Changeworks Resources    

Many Enneagram practitioners teach primarily through speaking or panels. Tom Condon’s approach is unique in integrating NLP and Ericksonian hypnosis. Trained in the use of auditory modalities to interrupt our usual patterns and facilitate change, Tom brings powerful auditory tools to anyone who wants to work on themselves. You can learn from his Dynamic Enneagram videos and recordings on the nine types, or download recordings to boost your confidence, reduce your stress, help you sleep, deepen creativity, and more. Access The Changeworks’ wealth of resources here.

  1. Enneagram HQ Video Resource Library

There are a lot of Enneagram videos out there where people talk about what it’s like to be different personality types, each with their own insights to offer. Enneagram HQ’s Video Resource Library stands out among the offerings for its videos of prominent Enneagram teachers, each of a different type, sharing self-knowledge gained from years of studying the system. They offer in-depth insights into each type’s internal dynamics, challenges, instincts, and growth. It’s wonderful resource to learn from and share. You can access the videos here.    

  1. Tapping for Your Type

Here’s another tool for change, customized to your personality. Psychotherapist and coach Rachel Alexandria’s video series uses EFT, or tapping, to free you from your usual blocks and create the change you want in your life. She guides you in using your fingers to tap on physical pressure points, while repeating statements that anchor constructive self-talk in your body. If you’re an Eight, say, and want to work on issues with food and eating, Rachel has a process video especially for that. If you’re a Two seeking to improve your work life, there’s a video for you, too. The comprehension and customized focus of each Enneagram type’s set of videos allows you to work on the most relevant areas of your life at your own pace, coming back to them as desired. Check out Tapping for Your Type here.     

  1. Wild Crazy Meaningful Enneagram Podcast

Pace and Kyeli offer a fun, interactive take on the Enneagram in this weekly podcast. Each episode features a different speaker or topic, which Pace introduces through one of her signature haikus. The podcast follows a conversational style, with the hosts teaching about various Enneagram-related topics or holding insightful exchanges with others. In addition to discussions of type psychology, books, and more, it boasts an impressive array of interviewees. Past episodes have featured authors, scientists, coaches, and panels of type exemplars or experts. A new episode goes live every Wednesday. Melanie had a wonderful time talking about modernizing the Enneagram with Pace and Kyeli this February. You can check out their fun, accessible way of learning about the Enneagram here.


Leave a comment

Our Favorite Enneagram Resources

In our years of Enneagram teaching and learning, we’ve had the benefit of many wonderful resources. With the Enneagram growing in popularity, there are books, videos, courses, apps, and a plethora of other options for learning about its many applications. Writing our book The Modern Enneagram gave us an opportunity to contribute to this conversation. We wanted to create an entry point for newcomers to this complex system. For readers who want to continue their learning, we included a list of resources for going deeper, focusing on different applications of the Enneagram such as careers or relationships. This month, we’d like to spotlight a few of our favorite resources that we recommend in The Modern Enneagram.

For Beginners: The Enneagram Made Easy: Discover the 9 Types of People by Elizabeth Wagele and Renee Baron

If you’re new to the Enneagram and looking for an engaging starting point, or if you’re seeking a fun way to introduce the system to friends, family, or clients, this book is a perfect pick. It introduces the nine types in simple, accessible language. Liz’s cartoons, sprinkled liberally throughout the text, give funny and relatable examples of how the types behave and see things. They flesh out the Enneagram theory in ways beyond what words can convey alone, and make for great conversation points. The book’s breezy nature makes it easy to pick up and put down for busy readers.   

Business and Career: Awareness to Action: The Enneagram, Emotional Intelligence, and Change by Robert Tallon and Mario Sikora

This is an excellent practical guide for using the Enneagram in the workplace. It presents the nine types as strategies that can be used skillfully or unskillfully, and introduces a simple framework for building on your strengths and growing your performance. Many mainstream Enneagram resources have a spiritual slant or use language that doesn’t work in corporate environments. This book speaks to the workplace in ways that are both thorough and usable, without skimping on the depth and growth that working with the Enneagram can provide.  

Personal Growth: Personality Types by Don Riso and Russ Hudson

An Enneagram classic, Riso and Hudson’s book delves deeply into the types’ dynamics and journeys of growth. It remains the most comprehensive resource for understanding the Levels of Development: the progression of personality through mental health, from our darkest struggles to our highest potential. Check out this book if you’re looking for in-depth insight and a thorough psychological take on the Enneagram types, as well as an inspiring view of what your best self can look like.

Relationships: Sex, Love, and Your Personality: The 9 Faces of Intimacy by Mona Coates and Judith Searle

This relationship book by a seasoned sex therapist goes beyond type and explores the three instincts, or subtypes, within each Enneagram number. Coates’ 35 years of working in the field allow her to offer rich and varied case studies for each type-instinct combo, illuminating real-life relationship challenges and ways of working with your type toward relationship success. This book also includes a scale for assessing relationship compatibility. Personal and thorough, it’s both an intriguing read and an excellent tool for understanding yourself and your partner.

Spiritual Growth: The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram: Nine Faces of the Soul by Sandra Maitri

This book is geared toward the advanced Enneagram student and spiritual seeker. Maitri expands on basic familiarity with the system by presenting some of the Enneagram’s spiritual context. She views the types as stemming from loss of contact with our essential nature, resulting in the development of a particular ego structure. The book goes into detail in explaining how these structures operate and how we can get more deeply in touch again with our essential selves. It also presents a unique take on each type’s repressed inner child.

One wonderful thing about the Enneagram today is the wealth of resources available. Our recommendations above are just the tip of the iceberg. See our book, The Modern Enneagram, for a more thorough list of recommended resources, or feel free to recommend your own in the comments!


Leave a comment

Modernizing the Enneagram

The Enneagram is a practical tool created from combining ancient wisdom teachings and contemporary psychology. Part of its appeal is the way it has stood the test of time. From its roots in the philosophies of the Desert Fathers and the Kabbalah, as well as its integration of newer psychological insights, modern students of the Enneagram have an eminently applicable system for understanding themselves and others, communicating, resolving conflicts, and working on themselves. Human nature has remained consistent over time, so it’s no surprise that a system rooted in long-standing wisdom traditions has a lot to offer us today.

The Enneagram of personality, as it is currently taught, is also old enough to have acquired its own history and tradition. Most teachers and students still consult classic Enneagram resources from a few decades ago, and there’s good reason for that. There’s nothing like the early works of Riso and Hudson, Palmer, Naranjo, and other Enneagram pioneers to give a sense of the system’s depth and intricacies. There are situations, however, where a modern update is called for in teaching and learning the Enneagram. The economy and job market have changed since the first Enneagram books were written. In our globalized world, we use forms of communication on a daily basis that would amaze even yesterday’s science fiction writers. It’s useful to have ways of teaching the Enneagram that reflect these new realities.

In our book The Modern Enneagram, we gave a lot of thought to bridging the gap between the Enneagram’s timeless insights and the interconnected world of today. Here are some principles we came up with for modernizing Enneagram work for contemporary audiences, while maintaining the essence of its teachings.

Adapt to a changing attention span.
People today are busy, with the constant buzz of smartphone alerts adding on to schedules full of work and family commitments. The ease of rapid communication means that we are expected to pay attention to more input, more quickly, for shorter amounts of time. A 2015 research study shows that the human attention span has fallen to about eight seconds. When introducing the Enneagram in a modern context, it’s helpful to offer a concise introduction that gets the point across and piques your audience’s interest. From there, you can ease students into more in-depth learning, but first it’s helpful to communicate why the Enneagram is worth their time.   

Use contemporary examples and case studies.
A lot of our favorite Enneagram books reference celebrities and pop culture from decades ago. If you’re introducing the Enneagram to newcomers, they may not be familiar with these examples, or they might find them hilariously dated. It’s helpful to find type examples from modern pop culture, which audiences can immediately relate to and younger students will recognize. Workplace and social realities have also changed since many Enneagram references came out. If you’re working with a group, address these changes and make a point of incorporating recent case studies to support the ideas you’re conveying. In our book, we included references to social media, dating apps, and modern workplace dynamics to keep the content relevant to readers’ lives.        

Take advantage of new ways of learning.
There are more ways of teaching and learning the Enneagram now than ever before. Some of the most popular Enneagram courses are now offered online, and you don’t have to travel to a workshop, or live in an area where one is convenient, to learn about the nine types in depth. There are Enneagram blogs, apps, and podcasts. While new ways of learning the Enneagram are proliferating, there’s still a lot of room for expansion. Consider ways you could reach a broader audience through the wide array of platforms available, and seek out people who want to learn what you have to teach. Don’t be afraid to incorporate new ways of learning into your in-person Enneagram work, too.        

The Enneagram has been around for a while now, and it continues to grow in popularity each year. With an eye to modern realities, it will continue to be a relevant and useful way of learning about ourselves and the people we interact with every day.


Leave a comment

Book Excerpt: Solving Problems at Work

Our new book, The Modern Enneagram, just got published. It’s an introduction to the system and its practical applications, with a storytelling style and modern updates. We’re pleased to share an excerpt about ways to use the Enneagram for workplace problem solving with you.

* * * * *

The Enneagram is a popular way for businesses to help their teams understand each other and improve their performance and communication. It’s a useful tool for mediating disputes and resolving interpersonal conflicts on the job.

After learning about the nine types, Julia, an Enneagram Type Seven, started applying her new knowledge to her job of managing a team of graphic designers at a branding firm. She had her colleagues take an Enneagram type assessment, and they now have a common language to talk about each other’s personalities and viewpoints.

Let’s take a look at a scenario where the Enneagram helped solve a problem involving a diverse group of people in Julia’s workplace.

Bob is a repeat client of the firm where Julia works. He has contracted with the company to rebrand his business, including a new logo and marketing strategy. Exacting and critical, he has many specifications for the project. Having worked with Bob before, Julia believes him to be a Type One.

Kevin, a Type Four, is the designer in charge of visual branding for Bob’s company. He completed a logo and portfolio of visual material for the rebranding project, but Bob is dissatisfied with Kevin’s colorful, free-form designs. He wants the whole portfolio redesigned, and he has many specific changes that he would like Kevin to make. Being a One, he has high expectations and desires a brand identity that gets all the details right. He tells Julia that he wants the new portfolio within a set timeline, and says that if it isn’t up to his standards, he will not work with the company in the future. As a Seven, Julia wants to keep interactions optimistic—and she does not want to lose a valuable client. She assures Bob that Kevin will give him what he wants.

Kevin, however, says the timeline is unrealistic. It’s just too tight for him to redesign all the material required. Julia does not have a background in graphic design, and her knowledge of the field comes from working with designers rather than from firsthand experience. She doesn’t understand why a redesign can’t be done quickly.

Kevin explains that Bob’s expected timeline will not result in the powerful visual brand identity his company desires. At best, it will result in some slapdash materials that don’t reflect the quality the branding firm is known for. As a Four, Kevin takes the creative process seriously and values producing well-developed and eye-catching work. Kevin needs more time to come up with new concepts that will fit Bob’s precise specifications and still stand out in the market.

Lakesha, who heads the marketing department, is also advocating quick turnaround. She needs to have the visual branding finished in order for her department to complete the marketing strategy for Bob’s company and have it ready for an upcoming launch party. As a Three on the Enneagram, she wants the branding firm to put their best foot forward, and she sees satisfying the client as part of that.

Julia feels caught between Kevin’s request for more time, and Bob and Lakesha’s requests for more speed. She expresses her frustration to Lakesha—who has more design knowledge than Julia—and they decide to problem solve together. When she hears about the level of changes that Bob wants Kevin to make to the visual branding portfolio, Lakesha agrees that the timeline is unrealistic. Julia is resistant at first. After all, managing interactions with designers is her job, and she wants to make the customer happy. When Lakesha suggests negotiating a compromise with Bob, Julia realizes that she has some workable ideas (and strategies to deliver them) that will please both Bob and Kevin.

Julia contacts Bob and tells him that she respects the integrity of his vision for his company (a strong value for Bob as a One), and her branding firm is committed to representing this vision in the world. She uses her Type Seven strength of positivity to emphasize the advantages of Kevin’s design, and explains that, in order to get the new portfolio completed in time, Bob will need to compromise on some of the changes he wants. She speaks to the effort Kevin is putting in and the high standards of the firm’s design process. Bob is still grumpy, but Julia’s upbeat manner and understanding of his values assuage him somewhat. He is willing to compromise on certain aspects of the redesign, though not on the timeline.

Julia and Lakesha talk to Kevin together about the compromises Bob is willing to make. Kevin is relieved that, with a less intensive redesign, the timeline is closer to being workable. Lakesha proposes a structured plan for completing the project on time, and Julia expresses full confidence in his work. With Julia motivating him, Kevin is able to complete the redesigned logo and portfolio, and Lakesha’s team moves ahead with the marketing strategy.

Ultimately, Bob feels that his company’s rebrand is in good hands because Julia used honesty and integrity when dealing with him. Kevin feels like his creative process has been respected. Lakesha is happy to have achieved her client’s goal of a successful launch, and kept the firm’s good standing in Bob’s eyes. Julia is relieved that everyone involved with the redesign conflict is satisfied and on good terms. Thanks to the Enneagram, their needs and viewpoints have all been heard. They can move on to the next project harmoniously, without any lingering tension.

* * * * *

The Modern Enneagram is available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.com at http://amzn.to/2jIWXtR and from Amazon.ca at https://is.gd/qZt89f.


Leave a comment

What Real Love Is and What We Mistake for It

As Valentine’s Day rolls around, we are surrounded by images of love. Some of these are commercial, like sentimental cards and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. Some of them are idealized cultural expectations, such as flowers or romantic dates. The prevalence of these images reminds us of an inner truth: that we all have our own ideas of what love is. Our expectations for romance and relationships are shaped by our culture, family, and often our Enneagram type. It’s easy to seek out a relationship that matches these expectations, and in the process, we may overlook experiences of real love that manifest differently. Let’s take a look at some of the ways each Enneagram type imagines love, as well as the deeper truths of love and relationships that they might not expect.  

Type One: Ones have been known to make lists of qualities that they are looking for in a partner, and to seek out someone who ticks all the boxes! As with many areas of life, Ones, on some level, want relationships that follow a certain set of standards. However, they often find themselves falling for someone quite different from their anticipated template. The truth for Ones to discover is that love is messy, a somewhat irrational process that’s perfect in its own way.

Type Two: Of all the Enneagram types, Twos are most focused on love, which they see as something they have to earn by giving to others. They imagine that their effort will be reciprocated, and that being loved means being appreciated and cared for in the ways they want to be. What Twos can discover is that real love is unconditional. It means attuning to another’s genuine needs rather than having our efforts reciprocated in a certain desired way.

Type Three: Many Threes dream of entering relationships that will draw others’ approval. Consciously or unconsciously, they seek out partners that match values reflected to them, whether it’s their family’s standards or societally prized attributes such as wealth or good looks. Through finding desirable partners, Threes hope to enhance their own value. The lesson for Threes is that love is a matter of heart connection, in which Threes can open up and be valued for themselves.

Type Four: Fours imagine that love means being understood completely, and finding a rescuer from their hardships. They fantasize about an ideal partner who will elevate them above the humdrum and mirror their deepest desires. What Fours can learn about love is that it is primarily altruistic. Rather than being a lover-embodied solution to all their problems, it is a force that transforms and heals by refocusing energy on caring for the other person.

Type Five: When Fives imagine an ideal relationship – whereas in some cases, they imagine a life of personal space and solitude, not “needing love” – they prefer a partner who’s interested in ideas, preferably someone who shares the Five’s interests and will listen to them at length. What sometimes surprises Fives is how much love is not an intellectual exercise. Genuine love for a Five brings patience, acceptance, and continual support.

Type Six: Sixes seek a “sure thing” in love and relationships. For them, love is security. They tend to seek out partners who will be steady and committed to them. At the same time, they question their loved ones and doubt that commitment. No matter how secure a relationship seems externally, it differs from the internal steadiness that will allow Sixes to stay the course with confidence. A revolution about love for type Six is that it’s intrinsically driven, and always there.  

Type Seven: Sevens seek out liberty within their relationships. A Seven may have coined the saying “If you love somebody, set them free.” While some Sevens live up to the stereotype of having trouble with commitment, others imagine that real love means excitement and stimulation. The surprise is that love can be a powerful agent for bringing us into the present moment. Loving relationships with others are grounding, and connect us with the joy of the here and now.

Type Eight: Eights are wary of opening up, and when they love, they love fiercely. For them, love means protecting the people that matter to them. People of action, they may throw themselves into acts of service rather than letting emotion in. The key for Eights is that the more they let down their guard and open their hearts in relationship, the deeper the reward. They discover that love is more than an act of protection; it is also an energy that nurtures them.

Type Nine: Nines seek love deeply, with the unconscious belief that love means getting along with others, connecting, and dwelling in harmony. These assumptions are true up to a point. Misconceptions occur when Nines imagine that harmony is continual agreement and pleasant, affiliative energy. What surprises Nines is that genuine love requires conflict to grow. As individuals stand up and hash out opinions, relationships are strengthened and become more harmonious.

No matter what our Enneagram type or relationship status, we can benefit from reflecting on the ways we imagine love to look, and being open to the unexpected forms it often takes in practice.