August 15 th


Inner Wisdom, Intuition and the Enneagram


Have you ever experienced a flash of inner wisdom so strong that you felt drawn to do something without really knowing why? Have you felt called to step into something without having a well-thought out plan? Or wondered how to explain these tugs that seem so off-the-wall to the people around you?

I have had a number of these flashes over the course of my life. I have been trusting them and acting on them more and more over the last six years. My draw to the the Enneagram was one of those leaps of faith. I was fully guided by my intuition.

I was introduced to the Enneagram system of personality as part of a women’s integral leadership program in 2006. The Enneagram is a psycho-spiritual system with ancient roots and it transformed my life. I do not say this to be dramatic. I say it because it’s true. It is not for everyone but I have noticed that it finds us when we are ready.

I had taken a handful of different career and personality assessments over the years and nothing was more profound for my own self-understanding than the Enneagram. It seemed to describe my particular mental and emotional operating system in a way no other assessment ever had.

I have been doing Enneagram Coaching with my clients and will bring you their stories in future posts. It’s amazing to hear and to witness how their lives are changing by working with this lens.

So what is the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a complex and fascinating system of personality that describes 9 core types or points-of-view, 9 fundamentally different patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. Each of these types organizes attention and focus in the world very differently.

Combining traditional wisdom with modern psychology, the Enneagram is a powerful, practical and dynamic system for understanding ourselves and the people in our lives.

The Enneagram quite literally describes the 9-pointed figure that bears its name (see the diagram above).  “Ennea” is Greek for 9 and “Gram” means something written or drawn. The history of the Enneagram goes back hundreds of years.

The value of the Enneagram:

  • It helps us understand ourselves and others in our lives – with surprising accuracy
  • It is unique in the world of personality systems in that it’s focus is on the underlying motivation rather than solely on behavior
  • It identifies the core beliefs that drive our habits of attention and patterns of behavior
  • It surfaces our blind spots and illuminates the path of growth and development
  • It is a dynamic system that shows us how and when we are likely to access other points in the system

The Enneagram has been called a “liberation psychology. The value in understanding our type is that once we see the patterns, or the “box” we have put ourselves into, we are no longer limited by it.

How is the Enneagram being applied?

The Enneagram is used in counseling, coaching, business, and spiritual direction to help people learn about themselves and others in their lives. In families and in organizations, it is used in conflict exploration and team-building and supports us in giving and receiving feedback. It is also used in literary and film pursuits to assist with character development.

For helping professionals and others interested in personal and professional development, the Enneagram offers a unique framework for self-observation and self-reflection that paves the way for transformational growth and change. The Enneagram is a powerful system that may be used to sharpen the self as an instrument of change.

Next steps:

Getting started with the Enneagram begins with identifying your core type in the system. The process begins with typing. I think one reason I was so drawn to the Enneagram is because typing is itself a process of self-discovery. It was a journey for me to take and it was not about someone else telling me: “this is what you are.” I found it empowering and deeply satisfying. When I talk about the Enneagram I always talk about typing as a journey.

While some people land in their core type right away, most people need to do some reflection and self-observation, try on a couple of types, and be patient with the process.

Here are some ways to begin the typing process:

1.  Take the 9-paragraph self-test in The Essential Enneagram (a book by David Daniels, MD & Virginia Price, PhD). Read and follow all of the instructions. It’s a short test (9 vignettes) but it enables you to identify the top three types that are most like you. Chances are good that your core type is one of your top three. This book has fantastic short descriptions of each type, a section on look-alike types, and awareness exercises in the back of the book. I highly recommend this book as a place to start.

2.  The 144-question forced choice Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI version 2.5) by Don Riso & Russ Husdon is another good place to start. You can obtain their typing book or take the full version online at the Enneagram Institute’s website.

While these tests are great ways to kick off self-observation, many people cannot land in their core type from testing alone. When this is the case, Enneagram Discovery Sessions and follow-up coaching are other options. Contact me for a complimentary strategy session if you want to learn more.

I have been studying and working intensively with the Enneagram and completed a two-year practicum and certification with the Palmer/Daniels school Enneagram Worldwide: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. I have also completed two years of certification training and coursework with the Riso/Hudson Enneagram Institute and I am an Accredited Teacher with the International Enneagram Association

And feel free to check out my list of recommended Enneagram resources here.

If any of this resonates, give it a whirl and let me know how it goes.  The Enneagram showed up in my life at the right time. I was ripe and ready. And my intuition led me to more Enneagram training. I love this work. I love the people who are drawn to this work. And I continue to be transformed by it every day.

If you are already familiar with the Enneagram, I’d love to hear how you heard about it, what you think about it, and how you’re using it in your life. If the Enneagram is new to you, let me know how this landed and what questions you have.

I invite you to take action now. Click “like” if you like this post, share it, and leave a comment to let me know what you think about the Enneagram or share a story about how you followed your intuition.


  1. Laurie,
    This seems like a very interesting process. I have not heard of the Enneagram before. I think it would be very interesting to find out what my “core type” is. I was in a car accident a couple of years ago and since then I am more open to new ways to grow and change. Maybe I will hit you up for that complimentary strategy session in a few weeks when I get back from my vacation. 😉

    • Heather, I am sorry to hear about your car accident and glad that it opened up some new experiences for you. I think we all experience our own “car accidents” of sorts … something that literally or figuratively knocks us over and shakes us to our core. It is often then, when we are most raw and perhaps in deepest pain, that the compost of our soul is ripe for new ideas. I was in just such a place when the Enneagram found me. And it offers a profound path to healing and health, especially in conjunction with so many other modalities. This is my first time writing publicly about it, and I am pleased to know this struck a chord with you. Please message me if you would like to schedule a complimentary strategy session when you return from vacation. I would be glad to discuss this further.

  2. Anja says:

    Laurie, as you know, I was already very intrigued, but after reading this post, I just went straight to Amazon and ordered the books you recommended!

    I think I will direct anyone who’s interested in the Enneagram to this comprehensive post!

    What convinced me personally just now, was these two points:

    “- … its focus is on the underlying motivation rather than solely on behavior
    – It identifies the core beliefs that drive our habits of attention and patterns of behavior”

    I just wrote on my own blog how we should focus on people’s intentions, fears and motivations, which may influence their behavior – rather than simply judging them by their behavior – so the enneagram really seems more and more like “my cup of tea”.

    Thank you! I can tell you really REALLY know your stuff 🙂

    • Anja, I am so touched. What a lovely compliment. Thanks so much for ordering the books and your willingness to share this post with others. Please let me know what you think and feel free to come back and share more about where you land in your type, if you choose.

      As I mentioned to Heather above, this is my first time writing publicly about the Enneagram. It has been sacred work for me and feels somehow deeply personal. It is a centerpiece of my practice and my business and I have been slow to fully step into it. So hearing your very specific feedback is encouraging.

      I saw your recent blog post and I think you are going to love the Enneagram. I am glad you will get your start with Robert Holden. Can’t wait to hear about your experience. 🙂

      p.s. My blog has “Comment Luv” so your latest blog post should appear as a link here. Not sure why it didn’t appear?

  3. Kathleen says:

    How I would LOVE to be locked up in a tower (think witch) with you for a whole weekend! I can taste your intelligence and wisdom with this system and I want it so bad! I love systems that are as complex as I am, which is why I love archetypal astrology. To understand oneself through these systems is to be awakened at a whole other level of BEING… which yes, is powerfully transformative! You live in a different reality. An ecstatic one!

    When my finances are flowing, which WILL happen. I will be knocking at your cyberspace door for a full on immersion! Hope you are working on developing an online group study program with this! would be AWESOME!!

    • Kathleen, can I just say I would love that! Right back at you my friend. I think we could mix some lovely magic together with archetypal astrology and the Enneagram. This is a complex and juicy system, it’s light and shadow, it’s personality and process, it’s psychological and spiritual, it’s beautiful and pragmatic and paradoxical. And add to all of that, that it is highly practical!

      I am so grateful for your enthusiasm and support. And I love that you’re asking about virtual programs because that is what I am cooking up. Wow, I am so deeply inspired. Thanks so much for letting me know this resonates for you! 🙂

  4. Emelie Rota says:


    I came across the Enneagram years ago in high school when a friend’s mother guessed I was a Helper – Type 2. At the time, I disagreed. But now, as I get older it seems like the right “diagnosis” after all. =)

    I am more and more drawn to these psychological profiling systems. It’s becoming urgently important to me to understand my innate and latent power and personality. My intuition has been SCREAMING lately that there are some hidden sacred secrets that live somewhere within me. It’s time for their unearthing. Maybe it’s time to revisit the Enneagram and see where it points.

    • Emelie, I love that you are paying attention to your intuition too and I can sense the importance of what is emerging … the drive “to understand my innate and latent power” … and that “it’s time to unearth some hidden sacred secrets living within me”. There are so many paths to “home” … I can only say the Enneagram was like a magic key for me. If it calls to you, I hope you’ll give it a whirl.

      As far as typing goes, it is common for those who know the Enneagram (especially those trained in typing) to form a hypothesis about someone’s type. In my opinion, it’s something to hold loosely and to share, if at all, with discretion. I invite you to explore type as a hypothesis rather than a diagnosis. In my view, the Enneagram is the antithesis of diagnosis which presumes “disease” or “dis-ease”. The Enneagram, when embraced, offers a path to wholeness.

  5. Hi Laurie,

    I just love your posts. I always come away from them learning something totally new. Believe it or not I had not heard about Enneagrams before. It looks really interesting. I used to be really drawn to psychology and getting to the core of who we are. This sounds very intriguing!

    • Hi Sasha, I just have to say that I adore your recipes and after replying to the last several comments with such intense focus, I smiled when I saw the link to your “Fresh Peaches and Raw Cashew Cream” and my heart got lighter. 🙂 I can get so drawn into this work that it can consume me! I love it and getting into my body and savoring food is actually part of my growth path! (And I have learned that through the Enneagram! More on that another time). I am glad you enjoy my posts and so glad to have introduced you to something new and intriguing. That brings me joy too! Thanks for following my blog and sharing some love here.

  6. One of my clients is a business coach who uses this method. We were working on something in QuickBooks and I noticed the beautiful diagram on her poster-board. I didn’t remember seeing it at my last visit and asked about it. She lit up while describing it, in a very similar way to how you describe your connection to Ennegram. It delights her. And of course it leaves me curious, but not entirely drawn to it – yet. I love that you say it’s all about timing… I look forward to the next reminder. ~ Loralee

    • It’s always fun to be with people who light up about what they do. 🙂 Glad to hear this post leaves you curious even while you are aware that you’re not drawn to it right now. Just knowing that is powerful! Thanks for your comment Loralee.

  7. Tanya says:

    Very interesting. Never heard of it. I’m intrigued how you coach inside this model. Is it similar to Myers Briggs? I’m not sure if I like to be classified as a type, although it is fun at times to see where I land.

    • Tanya, this is such a great question! I like the MBTI as well and have used both the MBTI and the Enneagram with my clients. The MBTI identifies our preferred behaviors while the Enneagram highlights the core beliefs and underlying assumptions that drive our behaviors. I could (and will) write a post about the differences because they have implications for the design of a coaching program.

      Thanks for raising your concern about being classified as a type. It is a common one. What is eye-opening about the Enneagram is that it does not in fact “put us into a box”; it identifies the box we are already in and allows us to step outside. This also requires a longer response and could be another post. So, thanks for raising these points. More to come! 🙂

  8. Suki says:

    I’m glad that I’m not the only one in the group who has not heard about Enneagrams before. Now I’m curious about it and have to find out more. My husband was a psychologist, he might know something about it. I have to interview him about this. It sounds interesting. It’s good to learn a new thing every week.

    • Suki, I love that this is new for you (and many others!) and that this post has piqued your curiosity. It is not taught in many mainstream psychology programs and there are only a dozen dissertations on aspects of the Enneagram. I learned it through a narrative tradition which means listening to people talk about themselves and share their stories. When people sit on and watch these panels they are surprised to see how the particular strategies of each type show up similarly in people who seem quite different on the outside. I will be sharing more.

  9. I’ll have to check this out! I’m always fascinated by all the systems that help us understand ourselves better. So amazing! Love that you use this unique tool. This is the first I have heard of it from you. Can’t wait to read more about it and learn more. Such a gift you have!

    Thank you for being YOU.


    • Hi Alara, it’s fun to hear that this is new to you and to so many others. It’s also exciting to hear your enthusiasm. I think we coaches are always fascinated by systems that help us understand ourselves better! Thanks for your encouragement and I look forward to sharing more. 🙂

  10. sheila says:

    Laurie, thank you for bringing the Enneagram to light in your blog. I love all the different tools available for self-realization and this is a fabulous one. A friend of mine recently used it to reconcile differences with her boyfriend which I think helped remove it from an issue between the two of them to what the book said was their communication style. It became more matter of fact of personality styles, not character flaws. It worked wonders!

    • Hi Sheila, yes the Enneagram does help us understand our communication styles and speaking styles as well as what is driving them. As a result, it’s easier to have compassion for others and to literally step into his/her shoes and understand the beliefs and assumptions that motivate behavior. It’s great for improving communication and for exploring conflict. And yes, it is very much about understanding different styles and strategies (no type is better than another and none of this is about character flaws). So glad to hear it worked wonders for your friend and her boyfriend!

  11. Jenny Shih says:

    I love all sorts of personality tests. I’m a 1 in the Enneagram. The first time I heard of it and flipped through the book I didn’t need to read further than the first section–I was able to see myself immediately!

    My husband and I took a couples class many years ago and the Enneagram was one of the tools they used.

    However, like most tests, I love taking them but I’m not always sure what to do with the info after I have it. The same has been true for the Enneagram.

    • Jenny, how great to hear that you are familiar with the Enneagram and know your type. It’s also fun to hear you used it in a couples class years ago. I would be interested to hear more sometime about how it was used in your class and how it was useful (or not) to you, if you feel like sharing. I have had really rich experiences with it myself but people come to it in so many different ways.

      Some people arrive at their type quickly the way you did: reading about it and seeing themselves immediately in a certain type. Other people need to reflect and experiment to discern it. Regardless, the next step is, as you point out, to apply it to your life. Thanks for raising this because this is where testing sometimes falls flat for people. I will be covering this in future posts. Stay tuned. 🙂

  12. Tina Pruitt says:

    This is new to me also, but sounds very interesting. I look forward to learning more in the near future!


  13. Marissa says:

    There’s a small movement in children’s education, looking at relating kids’ Enneagram types to their academic strengths and needs. Absolutely brilliant.

    And I agree with Jenny. I know my type (which wasn’t a surprise, either), but don’t really know what to do with that information.

    Great post!

    • Marissa, thanks for your comment. Yes, there is a wonderful Enneagram book by Liz Wagele that helps parents and kids see the different types with compassion. It’s called “Finding the Birthday Cake: Helping Children Raise Their Self-Esteem” and it’s a great little book.

      The brilliance of the Enneagram is that it helps bring unconscious patterns to consciousness and helps us see what we pay attention to. It is far more than a pop psychology testing tool and I will be covering more about what to do once you know your type in future posts. Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

  14. Hi Laurie! just discovered this post today. Looooooooooooooove the enneagram!!! But you already know this 😉

    I love how dynamic the enneagram is. I love how knowing your type is about ‘liberating’ ourselves + expanding our awareness on existing habitual patterns + behaviours that we’ve assumed are innately ‘who we think we are’.

    I have not had any professionally coaching to date..all of it has been self study + a desire to truly learn more about myself + free myself from some shitty behaviour patterns that I kept repeating….and ultimately led to my quarter life crisis.

    The enneagram has been pivotal in my own transformation + I strongly encourage EVERYONE to explore their own type…and like you said, when the timing is right, you’ll be ready to explore deeper.

    Awesome post Laurie!!

    • Susana, thanks for sharing what YOU love about the Enneagram! Your energy and enthusiasm are testimony to the power and value of the Enneagram! I love hearing that it has been transformative for you too! I would love to interview you and do a post on you, your type, and how it is supporting or has supported you in your quarter-life crisis! I will send you a direct message. 🙂