The Enneagram: Discover 9 Essential Pathways for Your Emotional & Spiritual Growth

The Enneagram: Discover 9 Essential Pathways for Your Emotional & Spiritual Growth

Lee Doyle
Lee Doyle:
Shift Team

At first blush, many people mistake the Enneagram for a simple personality typing system, something akin to a psychological parlor game, which forces people into convenient little boxes.

Trust me... it’s something far more useful and powerful.

And, let’s face it, there are A LOT of tools out there for emotional, spiritual and professional growth.

But I can say without reservation that no tool has influenced my own development as much as the Enneagram. I simply would not be the person I am today — nor would I have the quality of relationships I have — without it.

My awareness of what makes me tick, the habits and proclivities which make up my personality and life lessons, has grown enormously since discovering this ancient wisdom path.

And I’m not alone. All over the world, from corporate boardrooms to romantic relationships, the Enneagram is helping people reveal the nuances of their personalities that can keep them stuck in ego-based thought patterns and behaviors — and block productivity, creativity, self-expression and true intimacy.

It is nothing short of a path to wholeness that helps identify and amplify the unique gifts each of us have to contribute.

Below, is an overview of the 9 Personality Types of the Enneagram. It includes a quick snapshot of each type, with a few corresponding questions for you to reflect on.

Additionally, you'll discover videos featuring Russ Hudson, co-founder of The Enneagram Institute, describing the essence of each type. 

While the breadth and depth of the Enneagram can not be conveyed in a single blog post, I hope this overview will give you a taste — AND inspire you to explore this amazing tool for your personal and professional growth!

9 Personality Types of the Enneagram

Type 1

The Reformer: Rational, idealistic, principled, purposeful, self-controlled & perfectionistic

  • Do value integrity and a sense of order in the world?

  • Do you judge others or yourself when you or they fall short of perfection?

If you answer “yes” to one or both of these questions, check out Russ' video below to find out if you could be a Type 1. Among history’s more famous Type 1s are Mahatma Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau. Hillary Clinton and Tina Fey also fit the bill.


Type 2

The Helper: Generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing & possessive

  • Do you feel more at ease helping others than being helped?

  • Do you connect easily with others?

For the Type 2, relationships are like food — nourishing, yet often challenging because other people are SO important. Byron Katie, Dolly Parton, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Elizabeth Taylor and Stevie Wonder are all Type 2s.


Type 3

The Achiever: Adaptable, excelling, driven & image-conscious

  • Are you a “get it done” person who gets impatient with people who procrastinate or are slow to complete tasks?

  • Are your accomplished in your profession, and do others admire your many achievements?  

If you’re much better at doing than simply being, you may be a Type 3. Famous Type 3s: Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Muhammed Ali and Madonna.

Type 4

The Individualist: Expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed & temperamental

  • Are you drawn to emotional intensity?

  • Do you long for the perfect romantic partner, feeling this will one day make you whole?

If you lean toward creativity, the arts, and look for the “deeper” meaning in things, you could be a Type 4. Famous Type 4s include Rumi, Virginia Woolf, Frida Kahlo, Bob Dylan and Prince.

Type 5

The Investigator: Perceptive, innovative, secretive & isolated

  • Do friends or lovers find you reserved and “too much in your head?”

  • Are large groups often overwhelming for you?

Sometimes called “The Observer,” Type 5s tend to be “headier” types and relive experiences in their minds after the fact. Siddartha Gautama Buddha, Albert Einstein, Vincent van Gogh, Mark Zuckerberg and Jodie Foster are all Type 5s.


Type 6

The Loyalist: Engaging, responsible, anxious & suspicious

  • Are you so loyal to your friends, family or a certain cause that you'd go to any lengths to defend them?

  • Do you often think about and/or prepare for what could go wrong?

Type 6s can be very fearful or very courageous depending on their awareness of this type’s “core motivations.” Famous Type 6s: Sigmund Freud, Robert F. Kennedy, Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe and Malcolm X.


Type 7

The Enthusiast: Spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive & scattered

  • Is it important to you to have many options, “just in case?”

  • Do negative emotions make you uncomfortable?

If you resonate with these qualities, it’s possible you fit the Type 7. Sometimes called the “Epicure,” Type 7s are optimistic and can look more youthful than their years. Famous Type 7s include Galileo, Amelia Earhart, Benjamin Franklin, Brad Pitt and Bette Midler.


Type 8

The Challenger: Self-confident, decisive, willful & confrontational

  • Do people sometimes mistake your emotional strength for bossiness?

  • Is it easy for you to take charge of a difficult situation, where others may shrink?  

Also referred to as “The Boss,” Type 8 tends to have a lot of energy and can be intimidating to those who are less forthright than they. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., Pablo Picasso, Aretha Franklin and Barbara Walters are among the world’s most renowned Type 8s.


Type 9

The Peacemaker: Receptive, reassuring, agreeable & complacent

  • Do you respond to stressful situations by spacing out in front of the TV, or otherwise checking out?   

  • Do you have a calming effect on others?

If you answered “yes” to one of both of these questions, you may follow the Type 9 patterns of being and relating. Famous Type 9s include Claude Monet, Abraham Lincoln, Carl Jung, Whoopi Goldberg and Audrey Hepburn.  


PS - These descriptions only scratch the surface... If you'd like to discover how to use the Enneagram to transcend your deepest fears and limitations and express the true gifts of your soul, please download Russ Hudson and Jessica Dibb's free hour-long audio, 3 Keys to Unlock the Power of the Enneagram in Your Life:  

Type descriptions Copyright 2008 The Enneagram Institute. All Rights Reserved. (Questions and additional information on the Enneagram written by Shift Network staff writers.)