The Enneagram: Nine Points of View and Core Motivation

The Enneagram framework refers to nine points of view, also known as Types, or styles that reference a different perspective of the way people think, feel and act in relation to the world, others and themselves. It reveals more than a personality profile, as it goes into the often unconscious core motivations that lie deep within our personality, and helps us to understand why we are the way we are. While each of us have all nine motivations within us, one of these nine is more dominant and serves as the main driver for how we show up in the world.

Typing, Not Stereotyping

For the Enneagram to have value, it is essential that you identify your core Type/style. This is the starting point to explore and open up the possibility for change and transformation. There is a danger in using a “type-based” system in that it can be easy to stereotype people. Stereotyping implies that one fact about someone leads to making assumptions about many other characteristics. Stereotyping limits our openness and perspective. A person cannot be oversimplified and reduced to their type alone. The Enneagram should be used to inspire compassion for self and others. Deepening our understanding of the perspectives, motivations and behaviors of other Types/styles improves our curiosity, empathy and communication and reduces the likelihood to judge and dismiss other people’s approaches, points of view and styles.

Motivations, not behavior

One of the key differentiators of the Enneagram framework is that it explores deep-seated core motivations, not only the outwardly observable behaviors. Using the iceberg model, behaviors are visible and above the waterline, but they are driven by the deep, unconscious motivations.

Individuals from different Types/styles may display similar surface behaviors while having very different core motivations. For example, two people may both demonstrate the behavior of being unstructured and late to meetings. However, with further exploration, one person might demonstrate this behavior because of the core motivation of an Enneagram Two style, saying yes to too many things, becoming overloaded because they are driven by the desire to be liked and needed. While the other person might demonstrate this same behavior because of the core motivation of an Enneagram Seven style, driven by the desire to keep things interesting and not experience the pain of a boring meeting.



If you have ever wondered WHY someone does what they do, the Enneagram offers a pathway for exploring the core motivations of each Type/style. These insights can strengthen your understanding of tensions and possibilities that exist in relationships, teams, and organizations.

Check out my blog series below on the Enneagram, or get in touch for coaching on how to begin the journey of moving toward your full potential.

Blog Series

The Enneagram: Connecting Ancient Wisdom to Global Transformation

The Enneagram and Neuroscience: Growing New Neural Pathways

The Enneagram and Neuroscience: Growing New Neural Pathways

About 6 years ago, I began my training and certification in a coaching framework called Conversational Intelligence®, exploring the neuroscience of conversation and its impact on trust and transformation. Through this training, I learned a bit about the ever evolving science of brain development. When I started the training, there were five areas of the brain. When I completed the certification about 3 years later, another brain area had been identified, the gut brain.

As I began my recent coaching certification in the iEQ9 Integrative Enneagram tool, I was intrigued to see that neuroscience has offered evidence to validate the key elements of the Enneagram framework. Early Enneagram theorists argued for the existence of three centers of intelligence (head, heart, gut). Now, neuroscience has proven that we have multiple centers in our brain that influence how our personality develops and how the brain responds to change and pressure.

By understanding the brain, we can interpret behavior more accurately and therefore build better strategies to help shift how we behave. This deeper understanding allows coaches to better support clients on their journey of change. For example, an Enneagram Types’ worldview and defense mechanisms are neurological patterns that are formed through developmental experiences in childhood that create a comfort zone. These patterns direct our “focus of attention” to specific aspects of our world and life. This wiring underpins our personality, forming a set of deep beliefs, motivations and filters intended to keep us safe.

Growing New Neural Pathways

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We also know that the brain is capable of incredible adaptation and change, called neuroplasticity, the ability to rewire, adapt and respond differently within a given situation. This ability to transform allows the brain to grow new neural pathways, which can break through old patterns and defenses to unlock personal development.  

In coaching, we support clients to make changes (otherwise, they wouldn’t hire a coach)! Often at first, the brain will bring forward a set of defenses and triggers to avoid changing. If a client is more aware of the triggers and defense patterns, understanding the deeply programmed neurological responses, they are more able to pause, take back control from unconscious reaction to move forward with intentional action.

Through exploring the Enneagram, clients become more aware of their pathways, assumptions and how they may be limiting themselves.They can step back from the knee-jerk reactions, addressing their shadow areas to move toward a greater integration of their full self. 

The Enneagram illuminates strategies for clients to stretch and release themselves by exploring “Wings and Lines”  to shift to a new level of awareness, grow new neural pathways and establish a more integrated range of behavioral responses. 

Check out my blog series below on the Enneagram, or get in touch for coaching on how to begin the journey of moving toward your full potential.

Blog Series

The Enneagram: Connecting Ancient Wisdom to Global Transformation 


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.