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What's Driving You?

By Ken and Lee Estridge

What's Driving You?

Last month we talked about Kaizen-the idea that we never attain perfection; we just keep trying to improve and commit to a life-long process of change and growth. We also mentioned that we would like to share with you a specific type of learning that promotes self-understanding and supports personal growth. This learning process is framed within a system called the Enneagram-an ancient personality-typing system that has very practical applications for our relationships with people in our personal and professional lives. It provides insight into the patterns of our behavior and enables us to see ourselves as others view us. We thought we'd show you the power of the Enneagram by telling you about one of our clients, Jeffrey.

The View From Outside

Jeffrey was very successful on many levels. He had a growing, financially successful business with 30 employees. He lived in a lovely home and his family didn't want for anything materially. But Jeffrey was an unhappy camper, and the people working for Jeffrey were also unhappy, as was his wife. Jeffrey didn't trust anyone and his approach to many decisions was often based on the notion that there just wasn't enough-scarcity ruled his view. He thought everyone was out to get him and watched every penny as if it was his last. Jeffrey was stuck doing tasks for his business that he didn't enjoy because he was afraid to hire competent people and fully delegate important tasks to them. His business growth was stunted by his inability to fully delegate and his people did not feel trusted or fully appreciated. This also spilled over in his relationship with his wife. He would question every discretionary dollar that she spent. The result was that nobody was happy, including Jeffrey.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Despite outward appearances, Jeffrey did not feel successful. He was in emotional pain and he didn't know what to do about it. He was always looking for when the next problem would happen and worried that if he wasn't super-vigilant, he would lose everything. He didn't realize the impact his behavior was having on his business and family. Our behavior patterns are often invisible to us unless we stop and take toll of our lives and get help from an objective outsider. In Jeffrey's case, he knew his life wasn't working, but he didn't know why until he began his work with us.

Can You See The Patterns?

Imagine being able to view a film of yourself in your everyday life. You are the star of the film and for the moment you are viewing yourself from the outside looking in. Now imagine that you are able to observe some repetitive patterns of behavior that occur on autopilot. Some of these patterns may serve you well, and others may not. Now, think about other people with the same patterns and observe the impact that those patterns have on their lives. What advice might you give them? How might you apply this advice to yourself?

Looking Inward

Using the Enneagram, we helped Jeffrey look at the inner workings of his behavior, and he saw that his behavioral pattern was a point 6 and that he was driven by fear. Based on this insight, we were able to give him some tools to improve his life. Jeffrey began to understand that his view of reality wasn't the only view, but rather his subjective view because of the lens through which he saw the world. He was able to step outside of his patterns and question how he might live a more fulfilling life by changing some of his automatic behavior. Jeffrey took a hard look at the role he wanted to play in his business and began to deal with his employees differently. He also began to open up a dialogue with his wife about their relationship and the role that fear played in his behavior.

What's Your Point of View?

The Enneagram system shows us that there are nine different points of view and three centers of intelligence: Intellectual, Emotional, and Body Based or Gut. Each point of view has distinct patterns of behavior that are vastly different and each pattern has different and identifiable drivers of behavior. When we are able to objectively observe our behavior, the result can be life changing, and in Jeffrey's case it was!

We welcome questions about how the Enneagram could help you explore your own automatic behavior patterns, so feel free to contact us.

Ken and Lee