The Enneagram is a personality typing system encompassing nine different personality types. The enneagram is a nuanced personality test, its results may be best interpreted by a professional; this article provides a simplistic overview of the 9 basic personality types.
Numbers, rather than names, are used because numbers are fairly neutral and tend not to have particular connotations associated with them.
Numerical ranking doesn’t play a role: a one is no better or worse than a nine, just different.
Picture Courtesy of The Enneagram Institute
According to the Enneagram system, we were all born with one of the nine types dominating our personality. Of course, we don’t always embody all of our type’s qualities at every moment, but we do have an overall personality orientation. People maintain their type throughout their life, and types are gender-neutral.
The Enneagram may be a highly useful way to understand yourself better. It may help you gain perspective on how you approach and interact with the world. As a result, it can be a useful guide as you’re exploring potential career paths and higher education opportunities.
Type One “The Reformer”
Motivated by truth and justice, Ones seek to improve the world.
In their healthy state, they seek truth and balance, and have the potential for extraordinary wisdom and compassion. Healthy Ones are humane, with strong personal and moral convictions. Unhealthy ones may slip into depression or anxiety, and may become preoccupied with correcting others for being “wrong”. They can also be stubborn and dogmatic, insisting their way is the “right” way, or they can become overly orderly and paranoid they will make a mistake.
Ones may find they enjoy working in environments providing a great deal of structure with a set of commonly understood rules. They may enjoy working as accountants, urban planners, attorneys, or computer programmers.
Type Two “The Helper”
Motivated by compassion and caring, Twos seek to help the world.
In their healthy state Twos are warm, empathic, and highly invested in being helpful. Their altruism and humility make them inspiring role models. In their unhealthy state, their fear of being unloved drives them to become overly self-sacrificing, dependent and needy.
Type Three “The Achiever”
Type threes are driven by the desire to feel worthwhile.
When they are healthy, they are self-directed, successful, and confident. Others often look up to them. They feel satisfied upon achieving their goals, and sometimes find satisfaction in helping others achieve their goals, too. In an unhealthy state, they can become overly preoccupied with status and image, and highly competitive to the point where they sabotage others’ successes. They also risk sinking so much into action they alienate themselves from their feelings.
Threes find themselves in a variety of fields. Threes interested in pursuing a graduate education may want to research degrees that may help then gain upward mobility in their chosen profession. They may be interested in careers in politics, business, law, public relations or sales.
Type Four “The Individualists”
Individualists are driven to find their identity, and have a basic fear that their lives have no significance.
Four’s see themselves as very different from others, and their level of emotional health dictates how they relate to that experience. Healthy Fours are creative, artistic, inspiring and self-aware. Their individualistic nature means they offer very unique contributions to the world. Unhealthy Fours, focusing on their difference from others, either sink into isolation and depression, or become grandiose and see themselves as “special”.
Fours may find themselves in artistic fields such as performing, writing, or visual art. Here, their innate creativity can flourish, and their tendency towards moodiness can be more accepted than if they were in, for example, an office setting.
Type Five “The Investigator”
Fives are motivated by a basic desire to be capable, and a basic fear of being useless.
They experience the world by figuring things out and accumulating knowledge. In their healthy state, they are curious, innovative and engaged. They have a notable ability to develop complex ideas and as such have the potential to be visionaries. In their unhealthy state, they can become detached, preoccupied, anxious and eccentric. They may fear they are less capable and competent than others.
Fives tend to enjoy long hours of solitary study, careers offering the opportunity for hours of isolated concentration may enable them to thrive. Fives interested in pursuing a graduate degree may be interested in studying engineering, software design, architecture, or writing.
Type Six “The Loyalist”
Sixes seek security above all else. They are loyal to interpersonal relationships, ideas, and institutions.
Healthy Sixes are dependable, and hard-working, and can evaluate clearly whether it’s time to hold on or let go. They are self-aware and able to make decisions on their own. When stressed, they may let their fear of abandonment run the show, becoming rebellious and argumentative, or insecure and anxious. They may turn to others to tell them how they feel. Most sixes tend to worry a great deal.
Due to their commitment to particular values and institutions, Sixes might be drawn towards working for a company or cause they respect. Their social orientation means they are likely to prefer working as part of a team. Sixes may enjoy working as teachers, financial planners, paralegals, or counselors.
Type Seven “The Enthusiast”
Enthusiasts are always seeking new experiences.
Sevens tend to be spontaneous and high-energy, and their primary desire is to have their needs fulfilled. When healthy, their enthusiasm, curiosity and gumption, combined with a quick mind, makes for people who are not only fun to be around, but extremely inspiring and interesting. However, unhealthy Sevens fear deprivation and pain. Their impulsive nature can tend towards scattered, and their zest for life can become overindulgent.
Sevens often change careers many times throughout life. They are more likely to be satisfied in a job that allows for spontaneity and adventure than one in which the day’s activities are predictable. Seven’s may enjoy the working as a park ranger, dancer, entrepreneur, travel writer, or artist.
Type Eight “The Challenger”
Eights have a basic fear of being controlled by others. Therefore, their primary mode of interaction is to control – their own life as well as the people around them.
Eights tend to be quite charming, straightforward, and protective, so their behavior isn’t necessarily perceived as a problem by their friends and family. It’s easy to see how their tendency to lead, prove their strength, and manage things can either be an incredible strength (when healthy) or a serious issue (when unhealthy).
Type Eights tend to choose careers enabling them to solve challenges, make decisions, and help others. Possible courses of study for Eights might include: career counseling, marketing, advertising, healthcare administration, or organizational psychology.
Type Nine “The Peacemaker”
Peacemakers yearn for stability above all else.
Nines are skilled at creating harmony, but also have a tendency to avoid conflict. Healthy Nines use their inborn traits for dramatic spiritual and psychological work. They are accepting and trusting. Unhealthy Nines may disengage, neglect themselves or others, or become stubborn. They allow their fear of loss and separation to dictate their behavior.
In some ways, the Nine encompasses many of the characteristics of the other eight types, and as such, may have difficulty settling on a career. For the same reason, they may also be suited to many types of careers. Nines may enjoy working as professors, veterinarians, writers, artists, or counselors.