Enneagram Type 5 Interview

I’m a 6 on the Enneagram, and 6’s are the Loyalists. I understand the Enneagram well from my perspective, and was curious how other coaches see and use the Enneagram in their business. Reaching out to Coach Laurel Inman, PCC, the founder for the Institute for Integrative Coach Training allowed me to seek an interview from her perspective. I wanted to see how different types, other than a 6, see value from using the Enneagram. Laurel is a 5 on the Enneagram, and 5’s are the Investigators. They tend to research, collect data, and seek the truth and facts. Knowing a personality test like this, is a leap of faith for types that need hard data, I was very excited to speak with her.

Were you open to the Enneagram at first?

I was resistant. I’m a natural skeptic and I didn’t believe people could be pegged.

What happened so make the connection that the Enneagram could be helpful?

As I was reading and resonating with what it was saying. My research brain, type 5, kicked in. I had to investigate. It was a spiritual insight that came to me, an Oh my gosh, our conditioned responses are totally predictable insight. Ya, this makes sense. The Enneagram helped show a pathway out of conditional responses, which means, we are more able to come from our higher selves, or our potential selves. We no longer have the false statements getting in the way. The illusions about ourselves, the fears, the triggers, the conditioning, when those are cleared, that is what is called higher self, running the show. And I was like wow. And it shows you a pathway out per type. That is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Was there a very specific life moment that helped make that connection to grow with the Enneagram?

It was more of a process for me than a moment. I thought I had to keep going as I was not yet free from my fears. I have to keep going as I’m not yet free from my conditioning. It was the pain of being stuck in my fears and living a triggered life, when things got stressful, it kept me doing the inner work to be free of those things.

Did you type yourself correctly at first, or did you get a different number first?

I did type myself correctly and didn’t like the answer. {Laughter} I read through, and liked the type 1 better as they are on a mission to make the world a better place. I was like this is me, I’ m a 1. But my coach knew more than me, and kept saying, yes, you might be on a mission in life, and yes, you are organized, and a perfectionist, but you assimilate information and 1’s don’t do that. 1s are about good and bad, and you are about truth. So, I went back and I re-read it and was like, oh my gosh, this is me. The 5 is 10x more me, than the 1. That is when I got the full experience.

Is there a specific example of great value of using the Enneagram with your relationship to yourself?

I grew out of an eating disorder and relationships that weren’t working well. I was too caught in my conditioned responses. Specifically, at work. I was in administration, and 5s will collect tons of data, and look at all the possibilities, and assimilate the best way to go about things. and we’re driven to do this. A point I got arrogant, and was like, no, everybody, we are not doing these kinds of things that are going to go bad, we need to go in these directions.

I got arrogant, and no one on my team liked me. I had to look at that from an Enneagram perspective and get out of my head into my heart. It’s about the process, and about the inclusion, that makes a team really thrive. When I shifted that and started including people’s thoughts and ideas, and recognizing the value of other perspectives, even if they didn’t get us to the goal we needed to get to – people felt good and that is what mattered.

That’s fascinating. Yes, from a team aspect, other people do have input, and the benefits of hearing other ideas, or same ideas that might be said in a different way, or ideas that could be totally wrong, {Laughter} … just testing that out and learning as a team, you’re right, that is a growing process, and creates that camaraderie.

Yes, and I’m not always right. A 5s not always right. It’s valuable for the 5 to put aside the assumptions that we have done all the research.

I love it. We talked about the relationship to self, where you mentioned growing out of the eating disorder, which is amazing that the Enneagram can help you overcome that, as well as your personal and work relationships with inclusion and valuing other’s input. These areas improved as you worked on the Enneagram.  From a business aspect, as you are a business owner, is there a specific moment the Enneagram has helped you in business?

Absolutely. My biggest benefit to me is knowing what my gifts are as well as knowing what my limitations are. When I first started out as a coach with a business where I worked from home, having private clients, having an online presence, I really swam upstream. I started doing mainstream stuff that should work, like this is what we’re told we should be doing. We should be networking, we should be speaking, you know, all these “shoulds”, but what I found by honoring who I am, my introverted side, the fact that I need a lot of processing time, I found that using strategies to market myself that aligned with me, not pushing against me, was the best.

I’m not going to be the one going to a bunch of networking meetings, because I need a lot of downtime, but I will be the one creating a video in the comfort of my own home and sharing that with the world.  That self-knowledge piece is huge. In life, there is not that one size fits all, so finding strategies that work specific to how we are wired in our heads, and our hearts, is golden. It allowed me to challenge the constraints and access the possibilities.

Do you use the Enneagram with all your clients?

Yes.

I do too. Do you find people resistant to it?

Sometimes. It helps how you bring it up. We need to let people know that this tool helps people find blind spots, that you may not know exist, and a pathway for what exercises are going to be effective, and what exercises are not. It saves a lot of time and money. I’m not here to waste your time and money.

Exactly! Do you find there are certain types that are harder to type than others?

Yes. Type 4 is resistant as they don’t want to be typed because they’re the Individualist. To be a set type, they feel that could take away their individuality and their whole identity is being different, so that is hard. And type 9s, Peacemaker and sometimes they are so blissed out they are more likely to sway instead of coming up with a solid answer. I’d say those two are the harder ones to type. Type 7, the Adventure is also harder to type because they see the possibility in the other types.

Are there certain types that are more receptive to the Enneagram?

That’s a good question. I think it comes down to how it is presented. If you are in Corporate and start talking about the Enneagram having ancient roots, it’s thousands of years old, but has been developed and researched recently – they don’t want to hear that. They want to hear, is it going to work or is it not? So, if they second guess it, they are more likely to dismiss it. If you were to talk about the MBTI, the roots of it were a well-known psychologist, by default it is given more clout, even if it’s just as effective or ineffective. I think that is the biggest challenge for the Enneagram is that it is ancient, and has developed over thousands of years, to be what it is today.

On a side note, I recently gave a presentation on the Enneagram. I also talked about the MBTI (Myers Briggs), and I had an analogy. The MBTI gives you awareness to your box. It allows you to make it lovely, and where you can decorate it as you wish. The Enneagram gives you the awareness to the key in the box, and allows you to get out of the box and throw it away. Go live in the world, not your box! {Laughter}

Nice! I love it! Can I add to that last question?

Yes!

Using the Enneagram in a Corporate setting can help save the company money. We can provide the Enneagram test, as well as the Levels of Development, and present to Human Resources or the boss, the employees that can benefit from coaching the most. It’s a time and money efficient jumping off point. I’ve also done this with couples. Where one is at a higher level of development and the other is struggling. We know where to start to bring them together. The Levels of Development is brilliant to know where someone is needing support.

Have there been any funny moments in your life where you realized you were a 5?

{Laughter}. All the time. {Laughter}. One of the things I love about it, is I can just laugh and go, there is my 5. Trying to figure out the truth, trying to make every conversation deeper than it needs to be. With my family I need to catch myself from wanting to have every single conversation be so deep. I need to tell myself, Alright Laurel, everyone is about small talk right now, and it’s OK. {Laughter}

Is there anything else you would like to add?

You can get value from any personality assessment, because it will give you feedback. The brilliant thing about the Enneagram is it quickly helps people identify where they are stuck and how to get to that freedom point, get to that self-actualized point. I don’t see any other assessment as comprehensive, but it can be frustrating to find your type. I think some people, if they waffle too much might give up, instead of staying put in the process. To get the benefit of the self-reflections process, even if you get your type wrong, like I tried to be a type 2 at the beginning, it was still valuable.

Ya, you can still grow if you mistype yourself and work on another type.

Absolutely.

I would like to thank Laurel for her time. Portions of the interview have been edited for clarity.

Please leave a comment below if you found value with the Enneagram or what you learned from this Interview!