EP: 142 From Stress To Strength: Decoding Enneagram Types With Sarah Wallace

BWW 142 | Enneagram Stress Type

 

Today on the show, I have my guest, Sarah Wallace, an enneagram expert, to cover the Enneagram again with a new twist. We hit harder on how each of the nine Enneagram types acts under stress. If you haven’t been listening to that show that long and this particular episode interests you, I have two other shows that cover the Enneagram. The first one is on the Enneagram and work clutter with Lori Palau. The second is an in-depth review of what the Enneagram is and how to use it with Erin Baute. And now this conversation with Sarah. Even if you have listened to these shows, stick around because we haven’t covered the Enneagram in this light before. The Enneagram is so nuanced, I could have several shows on the topic!

During my chat with Sarah, we covered:

  1. What led Sarah to get into work with individuals and teams on the Enneagram
  2. What the Enneagram numbers are and an overview of each one
  3. The Enneagram numbers under stress and where we go in times of stress
  4. How fixed and growth mindsets relate to the Enneagram
  5. If certain Enneagram types struggle more than others with fixed mindset

Resources that Sarah recommends to learn more about the Enneagram and find your Enneagram type

Listen to the podcast here

 

From Stress To Strength: Decoding Enneagram Types With Sarah Wallace

Let’s start with a quick personal update. My daughters Olivia who’s 5 and Charlotte who’s 11 just started school. Olivia started in kindergarten. We call it the big school and Charlotte is in middle school. Big transitions, right? I didn’t cry at all. That’s a lie. I cried like a baby, especially when Olivia went off to kindergarten on her first day. I may have cried when my big girl Charlotte went off to middle school. I cannot believe it. It feels like yesterday and here she is already in 6th grade. My babies are just not so baby anymore but I’m trying to look for those silver linings.

A huge positive is I’m done with daycare costs. Can I get a hallelujah? It feels like a huge raise that I didn’t even have to negotiate for. Either way, I hope you are enjoying your remaining sunny days until we inch our way toward fall. If you or your kids are going through a transition, give yourself compassion and grace now because big transitions can be hard. That’s why they call them big transitions.

On the show, I have my guest Sarah Wallace. She is an Enneagram expert. She’s covering the Enneagram with a new twist. We’re hitting harder on the Enneagram types and how each of the nine Enneagram styles acts under stress. If you have not tuned in to Brave Woman at Work that long and this particular show or topic interests you, I have two other shows that cover the Enneagram way back in the library. Go look for them.

The first one is the topic is the Enneagram and Work Clutter with Laurie Palau. You can look that one up. It’s out there in the interwebs. The second show is an in-depth review of what the Enneagram is and how to use it with Erin Baute. Even if you’ve tuned in to those prior Enneagram shows, stick with me and stick around because we haven’t covered the Enneagram in this light before. The Enneagram is such a nuanced topic. I could have many shows on this particular subject area.

During my chat with Sarah, we covered what led her to get into this work, to begin with, and work with individuals and teams on the Enneagram. We review what the Enneagram types are and an overview of each one. This time, we also dive into my type and her type a little deeper than the prior shows. I’m a type 1. It’s called the reformer, the improver, or the perfectionist. Sarah is a type 7. Maybe you’ll recognize yourself in 1 or 7, but if not, it’s okay. We just use that as an example.

 

BWW 142 | Enneagram Stress Type

 

We talk about the Enneagram numbers under stress, where we go in times of chaos in our lives, and how fixed and growth mindsets relate to the Enneagram. I also asked Sarah if certain Enneagram types struggle with fixed mindsets more than others. Sarah recommends and all of the resources in each show are different. That’s cool too based on the Enneagram expert. They have their own go-to resources. This time, she’s recommending different resources to learn more about what the Enneagram is and to find your type.

Here’s more about Sarah. Sarah Wallace is a certified Enneagram coach, host of the Enneagram MBA Podcast, speaker, and workshop facilitator. Her career started as a manager of public affairs for a global corporate construction material company, and later as a national media sales consultant for a small publishing business in the health club industry.

This wide range of workplace relationship experience and team dynamics allows Sarah to understand and successfully work with various types and sizes of groups while both collaborating with executives in the boardroom and supporting employees in the field. With over fifteen years in these relationship-building roles working with customers, vendor partners, community stakeholders, and government agencies like the US EPA, Missouri DNR, Philips Lighting, Mindbody, and Adidas Outdoor, now small business owners, corporate leaders, and event organizers work with Sarah to help them use the Enneagram to develop confident, empathetic, and emotionally intelligent leaders with powerful productive and happy teams.

Before we get started, if you’re enjoying Brave Woman at Work, please make sure to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcast and Spotify. As I always say, if you’ve left a rating and/or review, I thank you so much. I’m giving you a high five and a virtual hug. Your support of the show means the world to me, and just by doing that small act, you’re helping the show gain traction and grow.

If you can take a minute to do that, I would so appreciate you. If you already have, thank you. Also, as a reminder my second book, Brave Women at Work: Lessons in Confidence is out there in the world in both hardcover and Kindle versions. The book is an anthology of women’s stories that will give you the inspiration and motivation you need to grow your own personal confidence. You can purchase them wherever books are sold. Let’s welcome Sarah to the show.

Sarah, welcome to Brave Women at Work. How are you?

I am excited to be here. I appreciate the invitation. I always love a chance to talk with someone about the Enneagram. I appreciate you asking.

I am also a big fan of the Enneagram. This is our third show over the past few years. I can’t even believe how many years I’ve been doing this, but I love the Enneagram and I like to remind people about it. I’m excited to dive in with you as well. Before we dive right into Enneagram, why don’t you tell us about yourself, the work you do, and maybe what led you to study and offer services in the Enneagram?

My company is Enneagram MBA. Predominantly, it’s corporate, workshops, and team training using the Enneagram for better understanding your co-workers, better communicating, and better collaborating. For the first third of my career, I was in a corporate setting. I understood the dynamics that play out in a larger company. The next five years, I spent in sales for a small business publishing company.

I got a crash course in human psychology when it comes to sales and understanding the dynamics that are quite different in a small business, and being on that type of team. I took what I was learning about marketing and advertising in that sales career. I eventually stepped out on my own, understanding the entrepreneur journey, clients, marketing, and consulting.

I had been personally interested in the Enneagram for quite some time. It got to the point where I was using the Enneagram with my consulting clients in the onboarding process. I got to this point where it’s like, “This is all I want to talk about. This is all I want to do.” I think it’s been about three years now. I have been purely focused on the Enneagram and have moved into packaging what I’ve learned from being on a team and focused on using the Enneagram in the workplace.

That’s a cool story because everybody comes to the Enneagram in a different way. I think I was in a bookstore and I stumbled on a book on Enneagram. I had no idea what I was reading. I know we’ll dive into certain types, but I knew I was a type-1 perfectionist. I was like, “This fits,” but I was so annoyed. Why don’t we back up for a second because here I am jumping in already? I’m so excited. If you have your own definition, share what the Enneagram is and how we can use it to our benefit.

A lot of times, it gets lumped in that personality category which I understand why and that’s perfectly fine. What I always talk about in my workshops in different trainings is that it’s not necessarily telling you who you are. It’s giving you some insight into what strategies, defense mechanisms, and coping strategies you have used. At some point, you leaned on them a little too heavily and have gotten to a point where you’re overusing them in a way that may not always be serving you.

There are some strategies that come naturally to you that our strengths that maybe you don’t realize either but it’s not about who you are. When you frame it like that, it’s like, “How could I ever turn the ship? How could I ever change who I inherently am inside?” It feels a lot more doable if it’s like these are nine strategies. There’s typically one that is your go-to tool on the belt. You have access to all of these tools but there’s one that you’re going to lean on the most. When you overuse it, it can potentially cause you some problems.

I like to think of it as a system that shows you what your strengths and strategies are. Potentially, what challenges you might run into? Also, give you insight into what other people’s core strategies are. Lastly, giving you insight into how you use those strategies and what the impact is on other people. It’s understanding yourself, understanding others, and understanding your impact on other people, whether it’s intentional or not.

I’m not trying to take the power away from the Enneagram but I’ve heard different definitions. The core definition is always the same. Some people say it’s a typing system but yours is a slightly different definition. Do you think the definition can be slightly interpreted differently based on the practitioner who is using it?

Yes, there’s no Enneagram police. It’s an open-source system, unlike something like the Kolbe, which has very strict standards for the definitions, how you talk about it, and what you can say and what you can’t say. There’s nothing like that with Enneagram. It is taking the pieces that you find helpful and explaining them in your own way. There are pros and cons to that just like there are with the other way.

That makes total sense. I’ve already shared that I’m a type 1. You’ll have to set me straight because I have limited knowledge. I’m still very novice at this. I understand that I’m a reformer or perfectionist. I’ve heard it called different ways. In your own words, can we do a brief refresher on the nine different types? That would be helpful because someone might be jumping into this for the first time.

The type 1s are sometimes known as the improver. I always say their strategy is that they are striving to feel perfect. A lot of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are motivated and fueled by that striving to feel perfect. Our type 2s are striving to feel connected. When it’s overused, it can feel maybe overpowering to some people. When it’s used with intention and purpose, they can be incredible relationship builders and be able to read people, so a lot of strengths with that.

Our type 3s are striving to feel outstanding. They want to be successful, accomplished, and be recognized for being accomplished and successful. For this one, I will give a little caveat. A lot of times, I’ve found in my work in the corporate space, people misidentify with the three a lot because it’s so ingrained in our culture here in the United States getting awards, good grades, trophies in sports, and that type of stuff. Sometimes, we think we’re supposed to be successful. We’re supposed to have a certain type of life. At the beginning of a typing process, sometimes people might think, “I’m a 3,” because that way of life has been so ingrained.

Our type 4s are striving to feel unique. They want to feel significant, accepted, and belong for being their authentic self. Our type 5s are striving to feel capable, competent, self-sufficient, and even detached, which has a little negative connotation sometimes. They fear being overwhelmed by others’ emotions, by big feelings, and by somebody encroaching on their space or their time. Their strategy is focused on maintaining boundaries and keeping up their own space and time.

Our type 6s are striving to feel safe, secure, supported, and to feel like they also belong to a group. Sometimes they’re called the loyalists. Any type can be loyal but a lot of 6s identify with that term. Our 7s are striving to feel excited, satisfied, and happy. They avoid uncomfortable feelings and negative situations at all costs. Our type 8s are striving to feel powerful, looking to feel strong, and never in a vulnerable position. That will motivate their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Lastly, our type 9s are striving to feel at peace. This is both the inner and outer piece. They are looking for wanting a little bit like the 7 to avoid conflict so that they can maintain the status quo, continue to feel comfortable, and not have to have some of those difficult and uncomfortable conversations that come up in conflict.

Which one is your type?

I identify most with type 7. Initially, I didn’t love that because I thought, “This is like the flaky one. This is the one that can’t commit.” It is scary how true it is. I wouldn’t describe myself necessarily as the life of the party. Not every single quality will be you as you dive into the typing process initially, but there are some very core things that I’m like, “I could not be any other type.”

I know this is funny. I had the same reaction. I was like, “I’m a reformer, improver, perfectionist, or whatever.” I was like, “Ugh,” even though it was so true. I don’t want it to sound negative, but is that an indicator where there’s a resonance like that for a 1? How do we know or find out our types?

I say that’s a subtle clue except for the 8s. Typically, this is stereotyping them. It’s funny but it’s true that almost every type is like, “I don’t want to be that type,” except for the 8s. They’re thinking, “What’s wrong with being direct, aggressive, and brutally honest? What’s the problem?”

It’s because they are brutally honest and aggressive. I love all my 8s. I have lots of 8 friends, by the way, which you’ll have to tell me if that makes sense for a 1, but I have a lot of 8s in my life. I love all of you out there who are 8. Are there any other resources or books that you could help? If someone is like, “I want to go and find out my type?” Besides looking at that, reading, and going, “Ugh,” how do they go about doing that?

A lot of Enneagram teachers have a love-hate relationship with assessments because what happens is rather than using them as a set of clues, it becomes fact like, “I’m reading and I’m learning. I could see myself as a 5 but my assessment said I was a 6, so I must be a 6.” I like assessments or quizzes to be a starting point and something to give you some directions. There are all kinds of free quizzes. I use Truity, Personality Path, or some of the free 1s that I’ve used.

Do not get attached to the top one. Don’t go out and buy the T-shirt yet but use it like, “My top 3 or 4 are this. Let me start there and diving in there.” I also have a two-question Enneagram test. You can type in two questions in the Enneagram test on Google and it’ll come up. It’s not mine. I got it from the book, The Wisdom of the Enneagram. Those two questions can be so helpful because it is asking you to select one paragraph from three different categories.

BWW 142 | Enneagram Stress Type
The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

One category has to do with how you handle conflict. Do you have a positive outlook and emotional reaction? Are you like, “Show me the data. Don’t give me the drama?” There’s another grouping. It doesn’t matter what it’s called. It’s called stances. It has to do with the energy you bring to getting your needs met. One is very assertive. You’re going far or fast. One is more withdrawn. You retreat inward, “How do I feel and what do I think?”

One is more community-based looking outside yourself. The 1s, 2s, and 6s are in that one with, “What do the guidelines say and what do the authority figure say?” The thought is when you choose one for each category, you overlap. When you overlap, you get a single type. That can be helpful to quickly start to narrow it down.

Did you say that was called stance? Is that what it’s called?

The second category. There are all kinds of groupings with the Enneagram. One of them is called Your Stance. It’s how you go about getting your needs met or going after what you want.

Thank you for sharing that. I know the types also may revert to another type under stress. You’ll have to tell me because I’m probably using the wrong vernacular. I mentioned that because a lot of the women are similar. We’re high achievers. Maybe we have some perfectionists in there. You know who you are. I’m one of them right along with you. We have had a lot of success in our careers. We’d like to have more success and get to that next level, but there is stress.

I talked about burnout in this show. I have personally gone through burnout, unfortunately. I’m trying to prevent other women through this show from going through it. I want to talk about how we revert under stress using the Enneagram. If I’m type 1, what happens to me when I’m under stress? Do I go to a different type? Tell me about that.

This is one of my favorite parts of the Enneagram because it’s one of the most useful, and it reflects the complexity of us humans. The Enneagram is very fluid. How your type shows up when you’re living your best life, you’re going to look different in that same type of structure when you are under stress.

The Enneagram is very fluid. How your type shows up when you're living your best life is different when you are under stress. Share on X

Our 1s will move to a type 4 in times of stress. What that might look like is you have your striving to feel perfect, then you’re going to hold that up with your striving to feel unique. For a 1, that will typically look like, “I know what’s right. I know the good thing to do, the best thing to do, and I don’t care if anybody else agrees with me. I’m okay standing over here by myself.” Maybe ostracizing my community. Maybe not getting along with others, causing conflict, or not being willing to navigate through it because I’m so dug into what I believe is the right thing.

Type 1s will also be a little bit more self-critical. Type 4s have that in common, so it continues to dig in even more there. Sometimes 4s also feel something is wrong with them. The difference between that and the 1 though, is that 1s feel like, “If I can work harder and put in more effort, I can get out of this.” Where 4s will think, “I’m inherently defective. Something is wrong with me. There’s no hope.” In times of stress, 1s might feel a little more hopeless than they normally do.

We can’t cover all of them. You have to contact Sarah if you want to know where you go to stress so we can talk about a resource like where you revert when you’re under stress. What about yours as another example? You’re a type 7. Where do you go when you’re under stress?

This is interesting. I go to a type 1. Sometimes it’s almost the opposite a little bit. In your case, 1s are typically so rational, diplomatic, systematic, and self-controlled. In times of stress, 4s can be emotional and hopeless. It’s like “Oh my gosh.” When you notice that in yourself or somebody on your team or somebody you’re leading, that’s a clue, “Something is off. Let me check in.”

For me, it’s striving to feel excited. I tend to be very positive, jump in, and be impulsive, “Let’s be happy. Everything will work out,” but in times of stress, 7s will move to that 1 energy and become a little pessimistic. They’ll be a little controlling. They tend to be free. Everybody gets to do their own thing and whatever they want to do. In a 1, they become more critical and more judgmental. With your 7 friends, who tend to be all happy and go-lucky, when they start being this way and taking on those stressful behaviors of a 1, again, “Something is off here. Let me check in.”

That’s good. You mentioned Truity. You talked about the Wisdom of the Enneagram. If someone is interested and they’re like, “I’m a 2 and I want to know where I go under stress,” where can they find information on that?

Sometimes in the typing process, understanding that type stress arrow can be enlightening in helping you decide, “Am I this or that?” If there are two that you’re going between, I can do it in less than a minute if you want me to give a quick this type goes to this type. Our type 2 wanting to be connected goes to a type 8 in stress and striving to feel powerful. Our type 3 in times of stress and striving to fill outstanding will go to a type 9 in times of stress and numb out.

In times of stress, with all of these, after you’ve tapped out your own type’s coping mechanisms and defense strategies, the 4 will move to a 2. Our 5s in times of stress move to a type 7 and become frantic and hyperactive. Our 6s make a move to a 6. In my experience in the workplace, a lot of 6s and 3s will get confused. Mainly, it’s 6s wondering, “Am I a 6 or a 3?” It’s because of this line. They can also look like a workaholic. They’re trying to avoid their anxiety. Type 7s go to a 1. Type 8s go to a 5, and become more detached and reclusive. Type 9s move to a 6, becoming a little bit more paranoid and anxious than they normally would.

We’ve given everybody quickly but it sounds like the same resources would apply. They could go and look up where they go under stress if they already know their type, then they can probably dive in right on Google. Correct?

Correct.

I know that Google is not the master of the Enneagram but at least it gives you a starter.

I know a good resource. There is a book called The Journey Toward Wholeness by Suzanne Stabile. Her book specifically goes into the stress arrow of each of the types in layman’s terms, but deep and insightful. I appreciated that book.

BWW 142 | Enneagram Stress Type
The Journey Toward Wholeness: Enneagram Wisdom for Stress, Balance, and Transformation by Suzanne Stabile

You’re giving me so many great resources, thank you. This is all good. Let’s take a different angle on the Enneagram, especially for my audience. This will be their third Enneagram show. I want them to have a little bit deeper knowledge and different than the Enneagram. I want you to comment on how the Enneagram relates to fixed and growth mindsets.

As a reminder for everyone, a growth mindset means exactly that. It’s expansive, there’s a possibility of what’s next, and things like that. It’s very positive, where the fixed is a little bit more fixed and stuck in place. “This is the way we’ve always done things.” The reason I wanted to bring this in is because we encounter this in ourselves and our colleagues in our work and personal environment. Sarah, do you have any thoughts on how the Enneagram relates to these two mindsets?

Two things come up for me when you talk about a growth mindset. We’ve done talking about the arrows and the movement within the actual Enneagram diagram that a type can experience. There’s also fluidity within the type itself. It’s a vertical movement where at the bottom, you’re on the struggle bus or your most unhealthy version. You then move up the scale to that average type, which is going to be where we get our stereotypical type behaviors from.

You then move up more to the very top where this growth developed within your type to the point where you may not even look like a type 1 because you have grown out of some of those stereotypical types. People ask, “What are the most compatible? What’s the best type for this? What type is most open to growth?” It has less to do with the type itself and more to do with where you or that person is within that vertical scale. When you’re at the very top, that means you’ve been open to seeing yourself and being self-aware. I talked about self-awareness. It’s not my definition.

There’s a woman named Tasha Eurich and she wrote a book called Insight. She has one of my favorite definitions. She says that the definition of self-awareness is two things. You got to have the will. You got to be a willing participant in the self-awareness process. It cannot be shoved on you, and then you have to have some type of skill to better understand yourself and the impact that you have on others. When you’re meeting that definition of self-awareness, you’re in that growth mindset. You’re at the top of the scale for your type.

To clarify for everyone, it’s not like if you’re in a fixed mindset, you’re in where you revert to stress. I’m a 1 and I go to a 4. I’m not now in a 4. I’m just on a different part of the scale within the 1, correct?

It can be both. That was the second part that I was going to mention. The stress arrow that we talked about shows you that As you said, you’re dug-in in your strategy. What’s happened at that point is almost like this analogy of opening a door. You’re pushing the door and that’s your core strategy, and it’s not opening. You realize, “It’s a pool door so let me pull the door.” That’s where you’re stress strategy is coming in.

That still doesn’t mean that you’re using it in a healthy way, “This core strategy didn’t get my needs met so I’m going to try something else.” Enneagram shows you what is most likely to be your backup strategy. It doesn’t mean you’re in a good place. When you are in a better place or in that growth mindset, you’re being self-aware and working within your type structure with that scale. It’s called the levels of development or levels of health.

The second piece of that is the growth arrow. The growth integration point is sometimes what it’s called. We each have another type that tends to be the type we want to neglect and ignore the most. Ironically, that is the exact strategy that we need to complement ourselves to give us that growth mindset. Do you want me to give an example with type 1?

Let’s do it.

The growth strategy for a 1 is the 7. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, so feel free to chime in here. Initially, 1s will reject that 7 strategy of striving to feel excited, enthusiastic, and what’s possible. That can seem reckless and a little out of control. There’s no structure and organization. You just need freedom and choices. I’m not here for that but, what could happen? How could you still feel perfect without always doing what you think is the right thing? Is there another right way? Could there be another right way? How could you bring in more joy? How could you bring in more spontaneity? When you’re doing those things, that’s hard work but that’s being intentional. You’re allowing yourself to be in that growth mindset.

This is a good example. I would say that at the start of this show, I was very much in a 7. People have asked me many times. They’re like, “Jen, did you take a class?” That’s very type 1. Did I take a course in college so I start a podcast and put a whole plan together? That’s not the case, everybody. I picked up a mic from Amazon and decided that I’m going to do this. I had no real plan and no idea who was going to be on my show or if anybody was going to listen or if anybody will hear.

I knew that I needed to do it in my heart, then it gave me joy. A few years later, it continues to bring me such joy. I hope that comes through in every interview and individual show that I do. I don’t know if that resonates but that is a good example of me being in a 7 where I was scared because I’m like, “What if I fail? What if nobody listens? What if it’s not perfect?” I was like, “Forget that noise. What if it’s amazing and gives me joy?” Maybe that is an example of the push-pull.

That’s a great real-life example because growth looks different for each of us. Sometimes, we’re inundated with all this great advice to help us be more successful and to be “the best version of ourselves.” Sometimes you’ll hear things like, “Wake up at 5:00 AM. Have a routine. Get some healthy habits formed.”

Growth looks different for each of us. Sometimes, we're just inundated with all this great advice to help us be more successful and to be “the best version of ourselves.” Share on X

Most type 1s, for example, are already doing that. It’s either not going to move the needle that much and be that effective or it’s going to put more pressure and have the opposite effect. For a type 7, having a little bit of routine and structure, and leaning into some of that could be a huge bang for your buck to allow them to be able to do all the exciting things they want to do but within some guardrails.

I don’t need any more guardrails on myself. I’ve had a trainer or gone to the gym or anything, whether it’s class. This is a blessing of being a type 1. I already have a whole engine of self-discipline to the point where I’m self-critical in that drive for perfection, so I need the opposite. I need to be like, “Jen, put your feet up. Have a little fun right now. Do something that brings you joy. Stop working.”

For a 9, the advice might be, “Put your butt in the chair and sit down. Let’s take some intentional action and be productive in this way.” For a type 1 or a type 3, that’s terrible advice because they’re already doing it. It’s not helpful.

That helps. We give in tons of resources for you to find your point of a growth mindset versus a fixed one. This is one of the other things on the fixed mindset. Is every type prone? Maybe I’m answering my own question. It sounds like every type has a balance of growth and a fixed mindset. Are there certain types that are more prone to get caught up in the fixed mindset? The reason I’m asking that is we were already hard on as a type 1. I know I can be self-critical and a perfectionist under stress or even more so in digging my heels. It sounds like I probably could get caught in the muck of a fixed mindset more than others. Is that not true and everybody can go there?

I can see why you would think that and I could see that. My thoughts on that is that any type can get caught because they think their way is the best way. For example, type 8 is striving to feel powerful and strong. Their fixed mindset is that strength always wins. You always need to be the most powerful person in the room. Watch out for anybody to take advantage of you. Sometimes it can be revengeful, domineering, and over-controlling. What could also be a gift of directness and confidence when it’s overused in that fixed mindset is believing that this is the best strategy. Whether you consciously are thinking that or it’s an unconscious thing, I still think that you’re sucked into that fixed mindset. You might say, “This is who I am. Take it or leave it.”

I have not asked this from any person that specializes or does work on the Enneagram. Can we be stuck in the stressed version of ourselves for long periods and completely be out of our main type or our growth point type for long stretches too?

Yes, especially in the workplace with work-related scope that can happen because it can be such a place of stress with your boss with a project.

We want to study this and understand where everyone is. I know that you work with teams. There might be women saying, “I want to talk to Sarah about this.” Can they work with you one-on-one? Do you have any recommendations if they want to have further support where they can go to talk with someone about Enneagram?

Thank you for asking. I have some Enneagram and career options and the typing session. If you’re running into problems with the test or want to get some additional clarification, I have to know your number of sessions, which is more what I should know about my wings and my arrows. There are some applying the Enneagram sessions, where you start to practice in real life. I’m at EnneagramMBA.com or EnneagramMBA on all the socials.

I’ve never asked you this. Why MBA? We know Masters of Business. Is it because of the fact that you work in a business? What made you decide on that business name?

I had used my name initially and I thought people are searching for the Enneagram, then the MBA is business. I wanted it to be really clear.

I also wanted to highlight that I know you specialize in working with organizations too. If we have managers on and they’re like, “I’m interested in this for my whole team,” you can work with teams virtually to see how they work together and how they can better work together, correct?

Yes, and that is one of my favorite things. We do virtual and in-person workshops typically with these intentions. How can we can better communicate in this day and age as a remote team? How can we better collaborate in the office? What do we need to know about ourselves? What do we need to know about other people to be better teammate, a better leader, and a new manager? There are different angles depending on the group. Having it in a group can be fun because you start to see things and other people. Your like, “This is why we might have problems. This makes sense.”

It would be fun in leadership teams too. You have an executive team across the organization. Have you done that with the CEO and his C-Suite or direct reports to see how they interact with the highest levels of the organization?

We’ll do leadership and Enneagram leadership sessions, where everybody has their own style. The 3-style, the 8-style, or maybe the 1 or the 7-style tend to be the glorified leadership styles, but there are nine other ways that you can be a leader that maybe aren’t noticed as much. We will look at those and look at what the strengths are of that leadership style, how you might be impacting your team in the positive, how you might be negatively impacting, or what your opportunities in leadership might be, knowing your Enneagram type. Give you some language and insight that typical leadership training doesn’t always get to.

This is awesome because you hear about StrengthsFinder, Kolbe, and some other personality assessments. It’s the real assessments you’re talking about. I’m not saying that this is not powerful but this stands on its own. I like that you’re starting to go into companies too. In my world, I still hear more of the traditional stuff, so I’m glad that it’s starting to break through because it’s important.

I love all of those. I did a series on my own podcast about CliftonStrengths, Kolbe, and how you can pair them with what you know about the Enneagram. I did have a manager or a director comment. There are companies that have had relationships with StrengthFinders or DISC for years. To bring in something new like the Enneagram is a little risky. He had said, “The Enneagram was fun. It was in-depth. We were able to see ourselves and see each other in the nine different strategies, but in a way that maybe some of the others haven’t.”

Part of that might be because it’s something new and a new way to look at it, but it can be fun. If it’s fine, you’re going to be more engaged. If you’re more engaged, you might be taking in more and wanting to use it more. You got to ask somebody else because I’m biased but I love the Enneagram as a way to better understand those team dynamics.

I’m glad that you say that they’re complimentary and they’re not competing against one another. If you are an organization, it is like, “We use StrengthFinder. It’s all we do.” Maybe if you’re in that position of influence or you’re a leader and want to bring that into your team as a complement, the Enneagram is a great way to do that. It’s a great way to get the organization to move. I’m excited that it’s starting to happen. What are 1 to 2 ways that you believe in your perspective that women can be braver at work today?

One thing that comes up for me is people always talk about being yourself. That can be scary and when you are that way, it can be brave. However, sometimes there’s a missing step which is how you find out who you are, not who you think you are or who you have been. Tools like the Enneagram are just spending time reflecting on who you are, and then having the audacity to embrace that person can be brave and redefine what a good leader is, and what a strong leader is.

Being yourself can be really scary, so when you are that way, it can be really brave. Share on X

A strong leader could be compassionate. Redefining some of those things can be brave. I also think that it can be brave to acknowledge both to yourself and to the other person what possibly negative impact you have had on somebody. People don’t always speak up but there have been some things that I’ve learned about myself that have stung. It’s almost cringy to know that person didn’t feel heard or seen. They came to me with a problem and I put a rainbow on it and said, “Everything happens for a reason. It’s all going to be okay,” or I avoided an important difficult conversation or whatever my things are as a 7.

That’s hard. I don’t want to do that a lot of times. Especially in the workplace, when you’re willing to say, “I know that something happened. I might have said something. I might have done something. What is that?” Feedback is a gift. That’s a saying thing that I hear. It’s hard though. That’s incredibly brave to be willing to ask for it and to be willing to listen and question. There may not be any validity but if I’m honest with myself, “What’s true in here?”

The last thing about the Enneagram is that sometimes it makes those harder pieces of feedback to take in because I’ve started using the sentence, “Will that make sense?” As a type 7, it makes sense that somebody is giving me this hard feedback. A lot of 7 struggle with this. As a type 1, it makes sense maybe why somebody said I was controlling or whatever. That makes sense. It’s not an excuse. It’s not to say, “I can’t change,” but it takes the sting out a little bit.

That’s good. One more time, where can women connect with you and your work online?

The best place to go is EnneagramMBA.com. There are free resources. The two-question Enneagram test is over there. The different workshops, team training options, and those one-on-one Enneagrams in your career options are over there as well.

Sarah, thank you so much for being on. We took a different spin on Enneagram. You’ve introduced a lot of resources, books, and things like that to the community. Thank you so much for the work that you do out there.

Thank you for having me. I love getting to talk about this. It’s been fun to get to know you and to get to meet you. You ask great questions. I appreciate it.

That’s a wrap for my discussion with Sarah. I hope you found our conversation both valuable and inspiring. Here’s a challenge until the next episode. Go and find your Enneagram type and share it with me on social media. I would love to hear your type. If it helps you with this show or any of the shows on the Enneagram I’ve hosted throughout the years, knowing your type has given you more insight to better navigate the world and your work. As a reminder, please rate, review, and subscribe to the show on Apple Podcast and Spotify. The show is also available on Google Podcast or any other podcast platform you enjoy. Until the next episode, show up, discover your Enneagram, and be brave.

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About Sarah Wallace

BWW 142 | Enneagram Stress TypeSarah Wallace is a Certified Enneagram Coach, host of the Enneagram MBA podcast, speaker, and workshop facilitator.

Her career started as a Manager of Public Affairs for a global corporate construction material company and later as a National Media Sales Consultant for a small publishing business in the health club industry. This wide range of workplace relationship experience and team dynamics allows her to understand and successfully work with various types and sizes of groups, while both collaborating with executives in the boardroom and supporting employees in the field.

With over 15 years in these relationship building roles working with customers, vendor partners, community stakeholders, and government agencies like the US EPA, Missouri DNR, Phillips Lighting, MINDBODY, and adidas Outdoor, now small business owners, corporate leaders, and event organizers work with Sarah to help them use the Enneagram to develop confident, empathetic, and emotionally intelligent leaders with powerful, productive, and happy teams.

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