Written By: Johanna Geary
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
Aristotle couldn’t have said it better.
It’s worthwhile to take a close look at what makes you tick — especially as an entrepreneur or business owner. Because, as you well know, the path to success isn’t paved with smooth stones.
There will be obstacles and challenges. There will be times when you feel you’re not getting anywhere. Your resolve will be tested in ways you never imagined. You might get frustrated. Tired. Even fed up.
You might wonder if this path was even meant for you in the first place.
But by understanding yourself, you’re able to take a more objective approach. This empowers you to look for solutions to whatever problems you’re facing.
Learning about your personality type can be an important part of becoming self-aware. A personality test gives you some idea of what you need to thrive and what pitfalls to watch out for.
Enter the Enneagram of Personality Types.
The Enneagram is a great place to start your quest for self-knowledge… so that you can stay mindful and slay those goals!
What Is the Enneagram?
The Enneagram system probably isn’t news to you. Maybe you have an Enneagram-obsessed friend. Or maybe it came up in a college class.
But there may be more to it than you think. Let’s take a closer look.
The Enneagram system consists of nine basic personality types. It’s represented by a nine-pointed symbol that dates back thousands of years.
But it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the Enneagram system as we know it was developed. A man named Oscar Ichazo devised the system. He drew from several different ancient traditions and philosophies to create it.
The end result was the Enneagram of Personality Types. The way it works is, the system details the nine different types, and every person has a dominant personality type. Since we’re complex beings, we all possess some qualities of every type as well.
And, you may ask, why should you delve into learning about your type? Maybe it was fun to dissect personality types in psychology class, but why should you bother learning about the Enneagram now?
Because it can be a powerful tool both in business and for personal growth.
Researchers have proven that Enneagram training shows tremendous value for psychological growth and ego development.
Other researchers note, “With its focus on self-development and the identification of hidden potential, the Enneagram typology might provide a powerful tool for employee development and talent management.”
In other words, the Enneagram could be very helpful in dealing with yourself as well as other people.
Knowing a little bit about your personality type can help you choose a career path, too.
And if you’re already set and pursuing your entrepreneurial journey, it can help you be aware of potential pitfalls you may face.
A Deeper Look at the Enneagram Types
Ready to learn about your Enneagram type and how to leverage it for success?
Before we dig in, if you don’t already know your type, click on over to Truity to take a quick free test to discover your Enneagram type. If you want one with even more in-depth questions, check out The Enneagram Institute for a paid test option.
Once you know which number you are, let’s get started!
Type 1: The Reformer/Perfectionist
Strengths: As a type 1, you’re principled, ethical, and walk with a purpose in mind. You have very high standards.
You’re a perfectionist at heart, and you like things to make sense. Self-improvement is very important to you. You want things done right. You have the potential to be a great leader or activist.
Pitfalls: Your perfectionism might make you overly critical of yourself or others. You can be too rigid and have a hard time being flexible.
You may tend to repress your true feelings. You can become prone to anger towards situations or actions you perceive as wrong.
Leveraging your Type 1: As an entrepreneur, being a 1 can be an advantage. This is because you place a high value on things being as perfect as possible. Striving for perfection means you do everything wholeheartedly.
You also have a strong sense of responsibility – and you need to be responsible to effectively manage your own business.
On the flip side, be careful not to let perfection get in the way of finishing your projects. Recognize that it’s ok to take a break and that not everything has to be perfect immediately.
When dealing with conflict, remember your tendency to be critical. Take a deep breath before responding. Even if the other person is in the wrong, leading by example is often the best thing you can do.
Type 2: The Helper
Strengths: You’re very people-oriented and supportive of your friends. You make sure everyone else is taken care of. You enjoy serving others.
Your efforts are sincere, and you’ll go the extra mile for the people in your life. You have an incredible ability to bring people together. You’re a team player in the truest sense.
Pitfalls: You could become overly dependent on others, and hungry for outside approval. You want people to like you, and sometimes your self-worth suffers if you don’t get that validation.
It can also be hard for you to say “no” to things. You might lose sight of your own needs, and put self-care on the back burner.
Leveraging your type 2: You have tremendous power to uplift those around you. This is a great ability to have as an entrepreneur, especially in a career where collaboration is key.
People love your honesty and your genuine, caring nature. However, you need to establish clear boundaries if you’re going to be successful. Learn to say no to things that don’t propel you forward towards success.
Have clear goals in mind and stick to them, even if someone is pulling you in another direction. Know that it’s ok to take the time to recharge your batteries and put social events on the backburner.
Keep your eyes on the prize. You deserve it!
Type 3: The Performer/Achiever
Strengths: You want to excel at whatever you set out to achieve. In business, you’re very dedicated to your work.
You thrive in a competitive environment. You won’t let anything hold you back from winning, and you strive for success in everything you do.
Pitfalls: You could end up being a workaholic. You might find it hard to slow your roll. You don’t always know how to stop and smell the roses.
You could get stuck in a cycle of doing and achieving more and more, leaving you emotionally exhausted.
Leveraging your type 3: As a natural go-getter, you’re well-suited to entrepreneurship. You’ll conquer any challenges that block your way, come hell or high water.
But your deeper feelings may get masked by your endless productivity. If you don’t take care of yourself and slow down once in a while, you could suffer from burnout.
Remember not to neglect your physical or emotional needs in the pursuit of your grand goals. Take time to schedule fun activities throughout your week. Recognize that balance is important for achieving long-term success.
Type 4: The Romantic/Individualist
Strengths: You’re very creative, and enjoy expressing yourself through activities like dance, writing, and art. Your emotional depth is boundless and expansive.
You’re a bit of a nonconformist, highly sensitive, and idealistic.
Pitfalls: You may tend towards states of melancholy, envy, or even depression. Your moodiness could make it difficult for you to maintain solid, forward momentum.
You may get caught up in comparing yourself to others in unhealthy ways. Your insecurities could cause you to withdraw from the real world or those around you. Or you might struggle to gain self-confidence. Your biggest fear is that you’re nothing.
Leveraging your 4: You have an amazing capacity to bring beauty to the world. Your introverted nature can be a source of great focus and intensity.
However, you may find it hard to stay grounded. Your dreamy nature makes it hard to deal with the more mundane aspects of running a business.
To leverage your 4-ness, find ways to stay grounded. Establish a daily routine, and stick to it. Practice positive self-talk every day.
Try not to compare yourself to others. You may fear deep inside that there’s nothing special about you – but nothing could be further from the truth.
As a 4, you have the potential to be one of the most innovative, creative people in your field. You can’t go wrong if you work hard, and use your unique voice to succeed as an entrepreneur.
Type 5: The Observer/Investigator
Strengths: You’re naturally curious and strive to learn about intricate, deep subjects. The more obscure, the better.
You want to know how things work. You’re an intellectual and maybe even a master in your field. You enjoy sleuthing for clues on your relentless pursuit of knowledge. Your critical thinking skills are excellent.
Pitfalls: It may be hard for you to get out of your head. Your physical needs could end up on the back burner since you’re so focused on cerebral things.
You might also have a hard time relating to other people. You may find it difficult to translate your ideas in a way that others will grasp.
You could become detached from the mundane world around you. You might get stuck overthinking things when action is what you need to build confidence.
Leveraging your 5: Your intense curiosity is undoubtedly a gift!
You can be very independent and skilled in whatever area you choose. You might be an innovator or inventor. Being innovative is important for any entrepreneur. Choose a career that challenges you and uses your special skills.
If you have a hard time communicating your ideas to the world, don’t be afraid to collaborate with people who have different strengths.
Sometimes, leveraging other peoples’ strengths is the smart thing to do.
And don’t forget that you need to let your deeper emotions air-out once in a while. As an entrepreneur, taking care of yourself is a must.
Remember to get enough exercise to take care of your body and keep the mental juices flowing!
Type 6: The Loyalist
Strengths: You’re extremely loyal and reliable. You go the extra mile for your friends, and people know they can trust you. You have a powerful ability to form long-lasting relationships.
You place a high value on security and want to feel supported. You have strong belief systems. Once you believe in something, your conviction is unwavering.
Pitfalls: You may be prone to self-doubt and anxiety. It can be hard for you to cope with all the natural changes in life. You might fear abandonment, or losing the security you value so much. You may find it difficult to trust people at first, even if they deserve your trust.
You may also have a hard time trusting your intuition. You have to think through everything quite carefully. It might be hard to make up your mind and move forward.
Leveraging your 6: A stable work environment can help you be successful since security is very important to you. You need to stay grounded and learn to trust your gut.
You might find it helpful to write out your goals, and step-by-step ways to achieve them. This way, you’ll see your path laid out logically. This might lighten the load of self-doubt.
Try to observe what things upset you, and learn to face your fears. Learn to trust your inner voice, and develop a logical action plan to help you accomplish what you came here to do.
Type 7: The Enthusiast
Strengths: You live life with enthusiasm! You’re not afraid to have fun and take on whatever adventure is around the corner. You’re optimistic and lively. You’re not easily tied down, and you take charge of your destiny.
Your infectious energy may even radiate to other people. You’re probably an extrovert who lives life on-the-go.
Pitfalls: You might end up feeling scattered, and struggle with self-discipline. You might feel like you always need to stay busy, which could actually be counterproductive.
You might have a hard time deciding what to focus on. So even though you pick up new skills easily, you run the risk of not mastering any of them.
Leveraging your 7: It’s hard for you to buckle down and get the “boring” stuff done that comes with running a business. But you need to do this if you’re going to succeed.
You need a solid plan to crush your goals and get what you want. You also need to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor do you have to build your empire all at once.
Beware of impulsivity. Force yourself to meditate and thoroughly think through big decisions. Carefully consider what you want and how to get there, and focus on one step at a time. It’s better to do one thing well than to have a bunch of things half-done.
Type 8: The Challenger/Protector
Strengths: As an 8, you’re self-confident and know what you want. You’re unafraid to take on difficult tasks. And you stand up for what you believe in.
You’re tough, assertive, and independent. People may be drawn to your natural charisma. You also have an incredible drive deep within you. You’re a strong leader, and you feel that there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.
Pitfalls: Sometimes, you might come across as cold, domineering, or bossy. You’re so confident and vocal about what you think is best, it can be hard to step back and see different opinions.
You might seem egotistical at times because you so strongly go after what you want. You can also be temperamental.
Leveraging your 8: Your capacity to influence and inspire can make you a great entrepreneur. You’re not afraid to take risks, so the risks of entrepreneurship are probably no problem for you.
Remember to exercise self-control in dealing with others. They may have different opinions or feelings than you do.
And even if you think that relying on others will compromise your independence, know that this isn’t always true.
Especially as an entrepreneur, there may be instances when you need the expertise of others to propel you forward.
Type 9: The Peacemaker
Strengths: As a 9, you like to keep the peace. You prefer calm waters over a stormy sea. You shy away from conflict.
Because of your nature, you’re a patient person and a pleasure to be around. You often have a deep connection with yourself and those around you.
You’re able to bring people together. You make a great leader when you truly believe in something.
Pitfalls: Since you seek a pleasant existence, you might avoid addressing problems head-on. You don’t want to rock the boat. But avoiding conflict isn’t always the best choice.
You may also struggle to have confidence and motivation. You might follow the crowd because it’s the more “peaceful” choice.
You may allow others to set the agenda, to the detriment of your own needs. It can also be hard for you to gain momentum.
Leverage your 9: Making peace with your demons is sometimes the only way to defeat them. Allow yourself to feel negative emotions and work through them.
To succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to push through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Find ways to keep moving forward, such as maintaining a solid routine. To grow your momentum, work with yourself, not against yourself.
This could mean doing your most difficult work at times of day that you know you function best. Or deciding on specific daily goals and following through with them to stay grounded.
Remember that it’s ok to lean into conflict to resolve it, especially as an entrepreneur. Keep up your momentum and crush your goals!
The Enneagram in Life and Business
Every person on this earth brings something unique to the table. We are each like beautiful diamonds, brilliant and multi-faceted in our own ways.
What’s your purpose?
What did you come here to do?
What makes you get out of bed every day?
By knowing yourself a little better, not only can you play to your strengths. You can give your weaknesses whatever fairy dust they need to BECOME strengths.
Because your “weaknesses” don’t have to be weaknesses at all.
They may end up being the thing that makes you special. The thing that makes people relate to you and flock to you. The thing that allows you to get the job done – the way only YOU can do it.
Know yourself, and don’t let anything hold you back from conquering your dreams.
Now I want to hear from you! Which Enneagram personality type are you? Do you agree with its description? And what are some things you do to leverage your personal power as an entrepreneur?
Comment below with your thoughts.
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- Daniels, D., Saracino, T., Fraley, M. et al. Advancing Ego Development in Adulthood Through Study of the Enneagram System of Personality. J Adult Dev 25, 229–241 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10804-018-9289-x
- How The Enneagram System Works. The Enneagram Institute. https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/how-the-enneagram-system-works
- The Nine Enneagram Type Descriptions. The Enneagram Descriptions. https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-descriptions
- Sutton, A., Allinson, C., Williams, H. Personality type and work-related outcomes: An exploratory application of the Enneagram model. Science Direct. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0263237312001442
- The Traditional Enneagram. The Enneagram Institute. https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/the-traditional-enneagram