Lint-Trap 2/4/01: More Tom Condon


More Tom Condon


I spent the weekend going to a workshop in San Francisco. The official title was Enneagram Subtypes. It was really about realizing who you are and beocming more so.

The Enneagram divides people into nine personality types. Each of these types has strengths and weaknesses. Recently, writers have divided each of these types into three subtypes: Self Preservation, Intimate, or Social. The Self Preservation folks use their personality to ensure that they are OK, defended against what the world tries to hand them. The Intimate people use their personality to create one-on-one relationships. The Social people direct their personality outwards to groups of people.

Subtypes are important because incompatible subtypes can cause a lot of trouble in relationships. Many people report that they have friends who are all different Enneagram types, but all the same subtype.

I'm an Intimate, and Diana is a Self Preservation. And this has been playing out this weekend even while I was studying about it. She is swamped. Both her kids have some real academic challenges that are coming to a head in the next month. Her boss blasted her, qwite unfairly in my opinion, but she took it very hard. She's been sick, still isn't completely recovered. And all of this tension has interfered with her sleep.

And we were supposed to be going to study Huna together in Hawai'i next month.

Well, suffice it to say, she's not going. I probably am. I have some self-preservation issues myself to work out with my job, but I'm feeling pretty optimistic that I'll be able to go. I'll miss her like crazy. But I need to get away, and I always pick up such perspective there.

For those of you who know the Enneagram, I'm a Seven (to avoid using adjectives that usually have either a positive or negative connotation, the Enneagram writers use the numbers 1 through 9). This means that I operate out of my head, am optimistic, energetic, and good at synthesizing disparate things--I'm also usually involved in too many things, can be shallow and avoid commitment, and insensitive or oblivious to the problems of others. And when you go deep into my motivations, you usually come up with some kind of fear.

Diana is a One, as was my mother and my ex wife. Ones are perfectionists. They have a view of how the world should be, of what is right, and are wonderful reformers, highly moral, high standards. The are prone to black/white thinking, rigidity, and can make you feel terrible if you don't live up to their expectations. They are also very hard on themselves, which can be a real shock when you see it for the first time. Deep into their motivations usually is some kind of anger or frustration.

The workshop went from 10 to 10 on Sat. and 10 to 6 on Sun, and we covered all the types and subtypes, all 27 of them. We all actually helped teach the class...many Eneeagram classes are taught using panels, where people of the same type come to the front of the room and answer questions from the leader and the audience. The attendees were fabulous, and were very open when it came to being on their panel. We had most of the subtypes and all of the major types represented.

It was quite amazing to see some of the more 'difficult' types after they had done some serious work on themselves. Eights, the Attila the Hun type, "My way or the highway", everyone's nightmare used car salesman. Insensitive, even brutal. We had a panel of three Eights who had done serious work on themselves. And seeing the result was amazing--the gruffness, the abruptness were still there, but so was the underlying vulnerability, even a sweetness. So now, when I deal with such folks, I'll see that they have this part of them, hiding it from the world, protecting it with bluster. And I'll meet them with compassion, and not take their actions so seriously. This is a great gift...

Thank you for reading.

Copyright © 2001 Pete Stevens. All rights reserved.