The Enneagram: Connecting Ancient Wisdom to Global Transformation

Recently I completed my certification as an Integrative Enneagram Accredited Practitioner, joining a community of more than 4,000 global coaches and organizational development professionals committed to supporting individuals in understanding their deepest levels of intrinsic motivation, conflicts, and self-limiting beliefs. Beyond individual coaching, it adds value to team development, organizational culture and our collective journey toward global transformation.

Although I just became certified in the iEQ9 tool, I have been familiar with the Enneagram for more than 30 years. 

What is the Enneagram?

A map for understanding human behavior. The Enneagram is a powerful, scientifically validated tool with ancient roots. It speaks to the age-old questions of “Who am I?” “What motivates me?” “How can I move from the unconscious, automatic behaviors, thoughts and feelings to leading a life that is more purposeful, effective and fulfilling?”

The Enneagram is a universal framework that offers insights into the heart of human nature, supporting anyone who wants to increase self-awareness and personal effectiveness.

The word Enneagram comes from the Greek Ennea, which means ‘nine’ and Gram which means ‘drawn’. It is represented in the geometric figure of a nine-pointed star inscribed in a circle that provides a framework for a personality type system of twenty-seven distinct character “archetypes”, different ways of thinking, feeling and acting in relation to others.

In ancient Greece, philosophical teachings recognized that the key to knowledge of the natural world and human possibilities within it, began with the studying of our individual “selves” as well as our physical environment. Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey, is structured in terms of the nine different lands Odysseus visits (Books 9-13) during his quest to get home after the Trojan war. The characteristics of the nine lands and the characters that populate them, parallel the issues and traits of the nine main personalities of the Enneagram. There are other examples of the nine types in Sufism, Judaism and Medieval Christianity.

The Modern Rediscovery of the Ancient Wisdom

The modern rediscovery of the Enneagram came through the work of three individuals: G.I. Grudjieff, Oscar Ichazo and Claudo Naranjo. Each of them presented Enneagram-related ideas to small groups of students in the context of psychological and spiritual development.

Grudjieff, born in Armenia, taught that personality consists of different ways we buffer ourselves against the reality of our lives, helping us maintain a kind of illusion about what we can actually “do” in the world. Through active “work on self” and intentional “self-remembering”, he said we can evolve beyond the unconscious mechanical state of our personality to become fully awake. This process he called, “The Fourth Way”.

Ichazo, born in Bolivia, is known as the modern day “Father of the Enneagram”. He connected the Enneagram symbol to personality types. His teachings provided a framework through which individuals could gain insight into the limiting beliefs caused by ego fixations and thereby work toward self-realization.

Naranjo, a Chilean-born, American-trained psychiatrist, learned the Enneagram model from Ichazo when he traveled to Chile. He synthesized the teachings of Gurdjieff and Ichazo with applied modern psychological terms, bringing it to a wider audience. Naranjo communicates the Enneagram as an overarching theory integrating Western psychology and Eastern spiritual practices.

Where We Are and Where We Want To Be

The Enneagram represents a model of wholeness: each of the points on the Enneagram not only describes individual personalities but also characterizes certain archetypal elements that are universal. By embarking on the individual journey toward wholeness, we move toward greater connectivity with the rest of the living universe. The problems the world is facing today on the social and environmental level require a higher level of consciousness to solve. What got us here won’t get us there.This framework allows us to see and understand the patterns that have us stuck and identifies a pathway forward to a greater sense of unity and connection to the natural world.

If you are drawn to start this journey, contact me for a complimentary assessment and debrief session. I have two available. The world needs all of us to move toward our best selves. 

Blog Series

Creating a Championship Team with the Enneagram

The Enneagram: Nine Points of View and Core Motivation

The Enneagram: Connecting Ancient Wisdom to Global Transformation

The Enneagram and Neuroscience: Growing New Neural Pathways