If you’ve ever thought, “I sure wish that person (spouse, boss, child, friend) came with an owner’s manual,” get excited, because Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile have created just that. In a witty and conversational style, they will lead you through the eclectic energy of each personality type without putting anyone in a box. Their use of illustrations and personal stories helps the reader visualize how a certain person reacts in different situations. While capturing the various passions, fears, and driving desires behind the 9 different Enneagram profiles, this book also gives a “top 20 list” of sorts, titled what it’s like to be a.…[given number]. Cron and Stabile outline each personality type as a child, in relationships, at work, and how they operate under stress. Each chapter ends with ten spiritual strategies to transformation.
More than any other personality assessment, the Enneagram has transformed our marriage to one of deeper understanding and compassion. Reading my 8 attributes to Aaron helps him laugh over things that would normally puzzle or frustrate him, and while reading his 9-profile chapter, I can pause and say, “Ah, that’s why he does it that way!”
I’ve also gained greater insight into my parents, children, siblings, and friends through this book. In an effort to better illustrate the format of the book, I’ll take a few sections from the chapter on the Six: the Loyalist.
I won’t list all aspects of the chapter, but just give you abbreviated snapshots: the following information is directly quoted from the book.
What It’s Like to Be a Six
- I’m always imagining and planning for the worst.
- I often don’t trust people who are in authority.
- I act quickly in a crisis, but when things settle down I fall apart.
- Being sure I’ve made the right decision is almost impossible.
- I’m aware that fear has dictated many of my choices in life.
- I find it hard to stop thinking about the things I’m worried about.
- I usually have so much to do it’s hard for me to finish tasks.
- I’m most comfortable when I’m around people who are pretty much like me.
- I like to be told I am good at my job, but I get very nervous when my boss wants to add to my responsibilities.
Healthy sixes have learned to trust their own experiences of life. They are aware that certainty and accurate predictability are not likely in most situations. They are productive, logical thinkers who almost always organize their thoughts and actions around what would be most advantageous for the common good. Loyal, honest, and reliable, healthy Sixes are clear-eyed judges of character. These Sixes have come to believer that in the end everything will be all right.
Average Sixes question almost everything. They struggle to get out their heads and pattern of worst-case scenario planning. They are overly focused on authority and can be either subservient on the one hand or rebellious on the other. They find the world to be an unsafe place and they respond with flight or fight. These Sixes, while managing all of their anxiety, are committed to education, church, government, family and social service organizations.
Unhealthy Sixes find danger around every corner. Their anxiety borders on paranoia, as they fear that the world is unfair and that most people are not who they say they are and cannot be trusted. Unable to trust themselves either, they look to authority figures and experts to make decisions on their behalf. These sixes find fault in others and tend to fall into patterns associated with the mental mechanism of projection.
The Six’s Deadly Sin is fear and they suffer the deep-seated need to feel secure.
Sixes as children: Teachers and coaches love kids who are Sixes. They are good followers and listeners. Because they’re loyal they hold groups of friends together. Only a few of them ever crave the spotlight, but they do want to be in the chorus. They find a sense of comfort in routines that are predictable.
Sixes in relationships: They’re not easy to be with, particularly in the beginning of the relationship. People who need security and certainty will keep their guard up. They will try to guess what you’re thinking. Afraid of being emotionally blindsided and having been hurt in the past, they will watch for hints of imminent betrayal or abandonment. It helps Sixes in the throes of doubt to remind them of your commitment to them. Never scold, dismiss, or make fun of Sixes’ doubts about their relationship with you unless you want to amp up their anxiety. Calm, reasoned reassurance is the key.
Sixes at work: Sixes are sharp, analytically minded troubleshooters. There are lots of things we can learn from Sixes. Most of us think and move too quickly. We make decisions on the fly precipitously, if not recklessly. But there’s a clarity and wisdom that comes when we’re willing to wait and think through the implications of our choices. Because they’re the ultimate devil’s advocate, Sixes bring that to the table wherever they work. Every business needs a loyal skeptic who isn’t afraid to ask hard questions or point out the flaws in a plan. A room full of over caffeinated, risk-tolerant entrepreneurs may not like it when a Six asks a question that pops the balloon on their big idea, but someone has to be the voice of anxiety!
Sixes have an odd tendency to believe that thinking about something is the same as doing it. To them thinking and doing are the same thing. As work, be sure to ask follow-up questions if you really want to know where Sixes stand in terms of progress.
Spiritual Transformation: Sixes need to remember the spiritual truth that they are ultimately safe. From an eternal perspective this Story ends well. What they need is more faith, not courage.
- When playing the role of devil’s advocate and pointing out the potential flaws in other people’s ideas and plans, be sure to acknowledge the positive dimensions of it as well.
- Limit your exposure to the 24-hour news cycle or to books and films that unnecessarily reinforce your anxiety.
- Learn to recognize the difference between legitimate fear and free-floating anxiety, and ascribe different values to them.
(taken from The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile)