Ginger Lapid-Bogda – The Enneagram in Business
Interview by Iain McNay
Iain: Hello and welcome again to conscious.tv. My name is Iain McNay and today we're going to have a discussion about the Enneagram. Our guest is Ginger Lapid-Bodga, hi Ginger. You're very prolific because you've written three books on the Enneagram, first one, Bringing Out The Best in Everyone You Coach based on the Enneagram. What Type of Leader Are You? And Bringing Out The Best in Yourself at Work. And you've also got various packs here which we'll look at later. So let's just start, as we normally do on conscious.tv, with how this all began for you in terms of your spiritual journey, and I think you were saying earlier that actually you were about seven years old when you started to get in touch with, what we might call, the bigger picture.
Ginger: Right. I remember when I was doing my PhD work, at the University of California in Santa Barbara, the major professor there said that he didn't think people became conscious, or spiritual, until they were adults; and I was, “Oh well, that wasn't my experience”. My experience was of being brought into a family – [I am] the youngest of five children - and the family was highly dysfunctional. It didn't appear so on the outside, but inside there were a number of things that were very troubling. And being the youngest, I was sort of watching everything and looking at it, and sometimes the recipient of a lot of this and other times it was my siblings. I became very reflective. I remember even at seven years old thinking about the meaning of life. Thinking about why people did what they did; thinking about the potential of people to do their best and what sometimes caused them not to do so. I found a lot of solace in the solitude and the self-reflection. And I remember believing at that time that there was a bigger universe, a bigger consciousness and a bigger purpose to it all. I remember thinking, “I'm too young to know it yet, but I know there is something there.”
Iain: So this was kind of instinctive, or…?
Ginger: Yes, it was very instinctive. And I do think children have it. My son, who's now 19, he was very conscious, had the same sense when he was four years old.
Iain: Right. Yeah.
Ginger: So I really do believe that, you know, it's out there, it's in there (gestures towards her chest).
Iain: And did you have relationships with other kids who felt the same way, or thought the same way?
Ginger: Well I was raised in the late 1940s, early 50s, and we didn't talk about those things (smiles).
Iain: Yes, true (laughs).
Ginger: I don't know, I think that children now do talk about it more. I remember when my son was in third grade, his teacher saw this special quality in him, and they put him in touch with another child in the classroom who had the same quality, so that they could be together and just not feel like they saw the world in such a different way from other people. But I think there's an increasing awareness of the bigger consciousness that's available now that wasn't talked about then.
Iain: Did you feel isolated as such, or did you feel OK with…?
Ginger: I felt protected.
Ginger: I didn't feel isolated. I felt very protected.
Iain: OK. You mentioned when you were in university - when you were I think 19 years old - you started to get political.
Ginger: Well I went to the University in Berkeley... in the 1960s and… my very first year was - two months start into it - the free speech movement, which started all the political activism in the United States. It was really about, ironically, computer cards, and we weren't computer cards with little punched out chads, we were people. It was the beginning of a sort of political consciousness; my parents were politically active, so I had been active as a child in political causes, but it was a big awakening for me, and so I then got very involved in social actions, civil rights and the anti-Vietnam War movement. And a little bit later in the women's movement that grew out of the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement in the United States. So, I definitely got, you know, politically involved.
Iain: I know it was the same for me, when I was young. I also got very politically involved. Involved with the left; left wing political movement in England and the way I saw things was, the system had to change and then people would be happier and better off, but it took me a few years to realise that actually you couldn’t do it for people. People had to want to change from the inside. That was when my spiritual journey started. I had to go through this process of seeing that something else didn't work first. Was that at all similar for you?
Ginger: No! (Smiles).
Iain: Yours was a different process?
Ginger: It wasn't like that. It's similar but different. The best I can say it is… my son, I love my son very much, a very wise child, and when he was five years old he said, “Mommy is there a God?” And I said, “That's something you have to discover.” And when he was seven he said, “Mommy I've figured out the answer.” (Iain laughs), and I said, “To what?” you know there was a two year gap, but for him it was an ongoing process. He said, “God is something inside you.” And God is also in the bigger universe and the challenge in this lifetime for each of us, is to connect with the universal force inside us and the universal energy outside us, and to make that connection. (takes a pause) I feel that's true in terms of how I see the consciousness, evolution and change. If it's just all on the outside, in organisations, or society, or nations, whatever, it's not enough. If organisations become more conscious and if people inside organisations become more conscious, eventually they will change the organisation. But it takes a long time. So my focus is both the system and the individual and bringing the two together.
Iain: OK. So, to follow your story in sequence. You got married (Ginger laughs), and you married someone you thought that was a Prince.
Ginger: And he turned out to be a big toad.
Iain: (Laughs). A big toad. So that must have been a big disappointment?
Ginger: Yes, because the dream was very large and the reality was very harsh. And I didn't consciously know this about him at the time, but he was very abusive, psychologically and physically. And that was the first time - it wasn't the first time I'd experienced some psychological abuse because that had occurred in my family - but it was the very first time that I had experienced any physical abuse from anyone. And if I can put it into the late 1960s/70s, nobody was talking about this, and I moved to a new city so I knew no one - I was in graduate school - but at first, I didn't know really. I got very disoriented by it and very discouraged and depressed and then I started to realise that this was not how I wanted to live my life, and so that ended. I ended the marriage. But after that I realised that at some level I had chosen him, not knowing consciously, but unconsciously and there was some energy in me that attracted him to me. That was the big beginning of my psychological, and the connection between my psychological and spiritual growth was a big awakening of, “I want to live a life that is satisfying and rich in experience, and rich in spirit, and rich in every… money was never the issue of richness, but a very vibrant life, and I need to take responsibility for my conscious and my unconscious choices.”
Iain: So somehow you were almost relying, or expecting to find happiness in the relationship with him?
Iain: And you realised, actually, it has different roots... happiness.
Ginger: It has to become from within.
Iain: Yeah. That's a big lesson, isn't it?
Ginger: It was a hard one, but a rich one. I look back on it and I think it was one of the best things that ever happened to me because it really woke me up.
Iain: That's a great attitude to have.
Ginger: Well, yeah, I feel blessed with that. But I suppose I had no choice, in a way. I had two choices, this or that. So given the choice…
Iain: Well there are a lot of people that kind of collapse into the victim thing and it affects them for years and years, and they maybe try and do some therapy. And it takes a lot of courage, a lot of insight and a much bigger overview to see: “Well I get something out of this, even though it's very difficult at the time, I can learn through this, I can grow and I can move forward”.
And then you were working with kids, deprived kids in poor urban environments. So, what attracted you to that?
Ginger: Well that was my social action. I believed - and I still do - that education is the path to choice and to do what you want with your life and do what you want in the world. So I went into an urban environment, and I actually never thought of them as deprived, I just thought of them as poor and urban. Most of them were African Americans because it was in the city of Philadelphia. I had a blessed experience there. I made contact with all the families. I got to know the children. I saw the beauty in them, and the belief in them, and they were amazing learners. But I also saw how, if I set up the classroom environment - you see here we go into the system structure - in a certain way, they could actually get really motivated and learn, enjoy themselves and feel fulfilled. And I also worked on them individually to find the best in themselves. It was again the system and the individual coming together. I still have some contact with some of them. They're adults now, they're probably almost middle-aged.
I remember, I just got a Facebook message from one of them. His sister actually contacted me - his name is Lamont - and he said he's doing very well, and he said, “I just remember your smile, no matter what was going on you believed in me, maybe more than I believed in myself, and your smile made everything OK.”
Iain: This is probably the key to how you work now, I guess… we'll come onto that later...
Iain: You have the ability to spot a potential in a situation, whether it be in a kid, or in an adult, or in an organisation, and it's feeding that potential...
Ginger: Right, I can…
Iain: … so it can grow, not because of you… but you're helping it to see that it can grow on its own.
And then you did… in 1972 I think it was, you did go into work with businesses. How was that to start with?
Ginger: Interesting. It was interesting. I've always been involved with organisations, partly because I'm fascinated intellectually; I find the way they work amazing, but also because it's where people congregate. And I've been about always trying to help organisations be more effective, more productive, more conscious and more humane. And help people in them be the same. For me, to be able to work in an organisation and do that, it's like… I'm a social subtype, so I like to help individuals, but I also [think] more individuals that can be helped the better. What better place than organisations?
Iain: Give us practically an example of some of the things that you actually did. You go in there, you help organisations, what did you actually do to start with?
Ginger: Well, I mean it's a 35 year profession, so it can go anywhere from working with an individual and leadership coaching, to working with organisation restructure, strategy, organisation design and everything in-between. But I don't come in as the expert. I come in as maybe an expert in processes to help them figure it out themselves. I don't help them, or tell them what their strategy should be. I help them get the information that will help them design their own strategy.
Iain: So again it's taking the potential that's there and giving them a suggested guideline so it can evolve.
And then, I know in 1992 you were at Esalen in Big Sur and you went to do a workshop; you'd done all the workshops that were listed apart from one on the Enneagram. So you went to this workshop. Tell us what happened.
Ginger: Well, I was just looking for a vacation.
Iain: (Laughing) Not everyone goes to Esalen for a vacation.
Ginger: Well my idea of a vacation is to go someplace that's very beautiful and also do some spiritual work, psychological work, something. Sometimes it could be all by myself, so that's my idea of a vacation. I end up in this Enneagram workshop that on the brochure it says that it’s a beginners’ one, so that's me. And I get there and it's advanced. And I'm like, “Oh my goodness”, and everybody's talking about numbers, and I'm...
Iain: Did you know what the Enneagram was?
Ginger: No, not really. Somebody said “You might like this.” I had had a few friends from college who had gone and worked with Oscar Ichazo in Arica, and they had told me a little about it, but they weren't supposed to talk about it, so they said “It's really great, but I can't talk about it.” So, I was interested, you know, and I figured if I wasn't I would just not go to the sessions and just sit outside in the hot tubs and eat the good food. But anyway, the first day, all these numbers people were throwing around… I don't really like systems of personality because I feel that they can restrict people into not being all of who they are. And we stereotype...
Iain: What were you learning? There will be people watching this programme that don't know what the Enneagram is. Just explain very basically what you learnt the first couple of days.
Ginger: Well, the first couple of days I learnt there are numbers and people identify with them. But by the third day I went, “This is amazingly profound”, so I have shifted from “I'm not sure about this” to “This is pretty profound”. So you want me to… would it be helpful if I explained the nine styles?
Iain: I'm just putting it in a context now what the theory of the Enneagram is. There are nine different personality types.
Ginger: Well yes. The theory of the Enneagram is that we have these nine different personality types and each of us is fundamentally oriented to have a certain world view and a certain drive that comes from one of these nine styles. But that we are not limited by our Enneagram type. In fact, it's not actually all of who we are, and that there is a deeper self that wants to emerge beyond some of the restrictions of our Enneagram style. So if we know our Enneagram style, it helps us identify our patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving, and to see the inter-relationship between the two, so that we can appreciate ourselves for what we do bring. Also not identify with our personality, so that we can actually work on development in terms of expanding our patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. With one of my colleagues, we first do our Enneagram types as the clothing we wear.
It's not that we want to take off all our clothes, but that we can in fact change and grow. Even though our Enneagram style is something that we have our lifetime, it's a continuous process of evolution and we are not fundamentally stuck in our patterns.
Iain: At this workshop you learnt about these nine styles, I presume. Was it quite easy to find your style?
Ginger: Well, at first actually I thought I might be an Enneagram style 4. But as I worked, after about ten years of working with the system, I realised that the 4s and the 2s are very similar in some ways and very different in others. And I started doing all the development work for the 4. After a while it lifted and it wasn't working anymore and I found there was a 2 underneath the 4 and that - because my family had been challenging - the 4 had made a little more sense in that family system. But there is a story I'd like to share when I left the Esalen experience.
Ginger: I went to this for my own personal development. I had not just a vacation. So I walk out of the room and literally, my eyes are wide open, but in my mind's eye I saw a blimp or a dirigible... you know, one of these air... they look like an airplane, but they have no wings. They float in the air… do you say dirigible?
Iain: (Smiling) it's not a word I know. Don't worry about it.
Ginger: Then there must be a British word for it. Anyway, it was carrying a banner, and the banner - you know in the back... a message - and the message said, “Your mission, or your job, is to bring the Enneagram more into the world.” And I just was taken, and I said, “But that's not my plan.” And it came back a second time and it said, “It doesn't matter what your plan is”. I'm like, “Am I tired”? Or, you know… 12 in the afternoon, I don't know. I'm like, “Well that's good, but what am I supposed to do?” and it came back a third time and it said, “Just be patient and it will be clear to you.” So I said, “Well that's good because now I don't...” And then... couple of years [later], you know, stuff started to happen and I realised what I was supposed to do. So, I feel I'm on some sort of plan that's bigger than me.
Iain: You then started to incorporate what you learnt from that Esalen workshop about the Enneagram, in your work and working with businesses and individuals.
Ginger: Yes, but the interesting thing is that, after that programme I decided I wanted to learn it better and deeper and because Helen Palmer had been the leader of that workshop, I went into her training programme in California. And part of the programme to be certified was you had to type twenty people, and ten of them - during this time - had to be on tape so that you had somebody supervise [your work]. Now twenty people is a lot of people really. I started running out of family and friends who were willing to be typed and interested to be so. So I asked several of my clients. And it was my clients - after I typed them I would give them a book as a thank you for their time - they asked me to work with them on how to use it in organisations. See, it wasn't my plan to do so, but my clients said, “Well gee, let's see if we can figure out how to use it with my team. Let's see how we can do this, let's see how we can use it for conflicts.” So that's how my path evolved. It was through my clients.
Iain: OK. Let's just explain, relatively briefly, about the nine different types. Just some clues about how people might be able to find their type. I realise it's probably not going to get detailed enough for someone to spot it from this programme. But just maybe a few minutes explaining, in a little more detail, what the whole thing is.
Ginger: OK. The idea is that on the Enneagram symbol we are all human, and so there's a circle that relates to both our universal humanness in the fact that in some ways we have all of the nine styles within us. Yet, at the same time, we're more fundamentally wired to one of the nine. And the reason for understanding which one is more our wiring, is because once we understand it, it helps us clarify and become more conscious of our patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. But also, for each Enneagram style, there are certain development activities that work really well for one style and are not necessarily useful for another in terms of evolving, growing, expanding and becoming more conscious. So I'll go through the nine styles very briefly?
Ginger: And what I'll try to do is give a business example, I find them rather amusing. I'll start with 1. Enneagram Style 1s believe that the world could potentially be perfect, but of course in reality they are quite aware that it's not. So, they feel that it's their job to improve themselves, other people and circumstances. And this is, of course, lifelong work, to try to keep improving things and making it perfect, because as soon as you perfect one thing, another thing pops up. And so, they are very diligent and responsible. To give you an example of an Enneagram Style 1: a manager, who had at least 70 people reporting to him was describing this in a group. He said, “Well I'm very good at delegating”. And his peers who weren't so sure if that was accurate said, “Really?”, and he said “Yes, I can delegate it to anyone who can do it better than I can.”
And they said “Well how many people is that?” And he said “Two.” And then his peers said, “What about people who can do it as well as you?” [He replied], “Well maybe I could do this… maybe, but…” [They asked], “And how many is that?” “Five” [he answered] So, I said to him, “You know, part of a manager or leader's job is to develop people who work for you so that, do you think you could consider the possibility of delegating to people who could do it 70/80% as well as you, and give them that growth or stretch?” And he said, “I'd really have to think about this seriously.” Now he was very serious, but it was amusing to others, but it was very hard for him to let go of getting it done right, and have the assurance that only he, or a few select others, could do so.
Iain: So, a clue for the number 1 is perfection.
Ginger: Yes, seeking perfection, but also knowing at some level that nothing is ever really perfect enough. Because 1s will be the first to tell you they're not perfect. What works, what's important is that you're constantly trying to make things more so.
Iain: OK, so number 2?
Ginger: Well Enneagram type 2s. They have this bigger sense that there's a bigger purpose to everybody's life and meaning and so they feel that their job is to help people find that and to hope reduce suffering in the world and to find out what people need and to satisfy it. They like to orchestrate and make things better, preferring to do it behinds the scenes to out front, invisible. And so what they do is they focus on other people so much, organisations and groups and others, that they spend less time figuring out what is it that I need, what is it that I really am about, what is MY bigger purpose?
To give you an example. A high level manager was saying to his managers, “I need some help. I'm very, very busy, could you do this for me?” And there were eight or nine people in the room. So one person said, “Yes I could do some if you give me a couple of days’ notice”, and another person said, “Not now, but next week”... go around... and the leader who was the [type] 2 said, “Well I can help you now because I always give, I’ll allow a couple of extra hours in my schedule just so I can help you.” And he was as busy as anybody else. Everybody was laughing about this, but it's the way 2s think. For him helping his boss was critically important. But of course he was exhausted.
Ginger: And then… actually the same person, had a difficulty in his life where somebody very close to him had died, and yet he sort of kept going. And people were saying “Let us take care of you a little bit.” And he was overwhelmed by it and didn't quite know what to do with it, with all the support he got.
Iain: Yeah, so they're focused out there, rather than also being [focussed] here (gestures towards his chest). OK, number 3?
Ginger: Enneagrams Style 3s believe that they're looking for a natural order and flow in the world; a systematic way that things work moving forward and they can't quite find it, so they feel that their job is to create goals and get results and to create a plan to get there. And in the process, they can end up being very high achieving and very successful, but they can - almost like a horse in a race with blinders on - lose sight about what's going on, both around them with other people particularly, and also what's going on internally with them.
Let me give you an example of something that was very moving to me (gestures towards her chest). I'd been doing work with management teams with the Enneagram and the development usage, and one of the men in this group I think was a 3. He was pretty driven and pretty successful and one day he came to this group, that had been ongoing, of leadership community and people looked at him and they said, “You seem really different, what happened?” And he said, “You know, I'd been working on this focus-on-goals-and-plan and focus-on-goal-and-plan… and one day I looked outside when I was driving to work and there was this flower that had been there all the time and I'd never seen it. It was actually quite lovely. I looked at this flower and I thought my goodness this is beautiful, what flowers metaphorically am I not seeing in my life that my focus has limited me?” He has a son who was very young, three years old, and he said, “My son, I love my son and I'm being a good father I think, but I'm missing the moment with him, he's the flower, I need to be in the moment instead of focused on the goal, even with him.” And it just opened him up entirely and he's just as effective as ever, but there's a way that he knows what it is to be, and not just do.
Iain: Yes, so they're almost too driven in a way, they're very focused but too driven. Again, lose the picture.
Ginger: Enneagram 4s? Enneagram 4s have a sense that they're wired, that there is a deeper connection between everything and all of us, but they can't quite feel it all the time, so they're constantly seeking it. And one of the ways I like to describe 4s - their existential experience - is that they think whoever made humans, if we came through on the conveyor belt, one human, you know like in a store. Do you call it a conveyor belt?
Ginger: OK... one human, the next human… that we all kind of look the same, but there's one that's different, even though it looks the same; that's the 4. And so they spend their lives trying to figure out “I'm different”. Is it I'm different, because I'm deficient or not good enough? Am I different because I'm better than, am I just different? And so it's sort of a constant process of trying to figure out, “Why am I different, why do I feel not quite like everybody else? Do I like it, do I not like it?” So it's all that. And eventually when they do their personal and spiritual growth, they realise that what's different about them is they think they're different. We're all different, we're all the same, but they have a liking of being different and are not sure they like being different.
So in the organisational setting, one of the things that often happens, is that there's conflict and difficulties and people are emotional because we bring our feelings to work. And so 4s - as leaders, or as players - actually like to listen to people talk about difficult situations so people can feel deeply heard, and they can spend hours on this, whereas many other leaders or even co-workers would go, “OK, I think enough already, you know, we gotta get back to work”, but they really have a capacity and a pleasure in listening and really going deeply into things with people. So that's 4. Let me go to 5.
Enneagrams Style 5 believe that it's possible to know everything. That's what they're seeking. But they want to know everything that's of interest to them. But then, you know, it's an endless possibility of knowing and their world view is that, although you can know everything, the world is full of scarce resources, so you have to be careful both managing your time, your energy, your privacy, your relationships. They tend to lead with their minds and disconnect, or cut off, from their emotions and their bodies too, in this pursuit of knowledge. So, their lifelong task, of course, is to reconnect, because true wisdom or knowledge comes from knowing from the mind and the heart and the full experience.
There's a wonderful 5 leader I've got in my mind. People would say to him, “I don't know you. Who are you? I want to know more of you.” And he'd be like, “What is it you want to know?” So finally he's with his leadership group and this comes up, and he goes, “Well what is it you want to know?” and they said, “We just want to know you.” I think in many ways they want to feel that he knows them, but they put it as [they want to know] him. So he said, “OK, ask me a question.” And one woman said, “When I say good morning to you in the hallway, how are you, and you just say fine, I want to know more”, and he said “Do you really want to know what I'm feeling and thinking?” and she said “Yes” and he said, “Well actually I feel like it's a superficial comment. You don't REALLY want to know who I am, or how I am. Maybe I had a bad day, maybe I had a good morning, but I'm supposed to just say I'm fine and how are you and smile at you. I don't like what feels to be more superficial interactions.” I think that's a real good insight into the 5s. On one level they don't like the sort of, what you call, social interactions, but on another level they spend a lot of time in self reflections. Often they do know quite deeply, but they just don't share. They do have feelings, but they often go off later and sort of reflect on them and experience them in a deeper way.
Iain: They keep it to themselves. OK, now 6s.
Ginger: 6s are very complex individuals (smiling).
Iain: I'm a 6 so I know that (laughing).
Ginger: I know you are (laughing). 6s can be very different from one another and the same 6 can be very different at different moments. The basic rule of the 6 is they're seeking meaning and certainty and support in the world, and they're looking for it and they can't exactly find it all the time, so they try to find it for themselves. They have antennae that scan, “Well what's really going on here, in my heart, what am I feeling here, what's going to happen?” they like to be able to predict things. And of course you can't because there are so many things going on, but 6s think they can. Some 6s are more fearful, because they are looking around to see what could happen and do anticipatory planning and some 6s are fearful too, but they go against the fear to prove to themselves that they're not fearful at all. Some 6s are in between, more fearful but can be quite bold, or not fearful at all, but have some moments of...
I'll share a funny story about an Enneagram author who's a 6 (smiling). No, I will keep names out of this (smiling) who's more on the counter-phobic, or against the fear. At one point I was President of the International Enneagram Association and we were having a conference in Washington DC. And the alerts, you know after 9/11, they would go to different colours. There had been a threat in New York and one in Washington and so the alert had gotten heightened and everybody in the country was aware of this because it was all over the news. So I'm the President of the Association and he writes me an email three days before the meeting is to start, and I'm already in Washington for a board meeting. He's about this much taller than I am (indicates just over half a metre with her hands) which is sort of relevant to the story. So he writes, “I think you should write. Email all the participants who are coming to the conference - and we're talking about 300/400 people - that the alert is heightened and that you can protect them.” (Ginger smiles).
Ginger: And I'm sitting there going… oooh well, everybody? You know what I mean, the desire, the fantasy to let people know… the fear came up, which you rarely see in this particular person because he doesn't show the fear and goes against the fear, and [he is] very tall, and I'm thinking, I can't protect anybody any more than he can! He's this much taller than me anyway, and there's all of these armed guards around, so they're going to be doing it! But the idea of telling authority that you need to tell people and you'll protect them, I found very amusing even in the less fearful of the 6s. I just laughed and didn't send an email out (smiles), but it made a wonderful story. Can you see me protecting all of Washington DC against terrorists? I mean, I can be nice and tell them not to do it, but what am I going to do?
So the 7s. The 7s live in a world where they think the world is full of possibilities and a much bigger plan for all of us, but they can't quite figure out what that plan is. So they think it's their job to try to create all this planning of possibilities. It's an Enneagram style that seeks pleasure and stimulation and wants to avoid discomfort or pain. The idea in the 7 is, if things get a little tough I'll just think about what I'm going to do, or a new thing that can happen, or possibilities. So one of the ways I like to describe 7s in work settings - because it works pretty well - is you think about the 7 mind as a computer screen where there's very few file folders. Every document is there on the desktop. So when one thing happens it makes them think of another very quickly because they don't have to go deep into the file folders. There's this [thing] called the synthesising mind of the 7, “Oh, that makes me think of this, and that makes me think of that”, so they can put together innovative creative ideas which are very stimulating and can often be very helpful in organisations. But their real challenge is also to focus on which of these ideas we could actually take to conclusion. Which of these ideas really can be most useful to the organisation and what is the downside of the idea because they don't so much like to think of the downside of anything too long.
So one of my very favourite clients - who's actually been an inspiration for the leadership book – a type 7, one of the ways he's working on himself, is that at his senior executive meetings, he focuses people on the agenda, so instead of being the one to come up with all the ideas, he encourages others to come up with them and he helps focus them. It's almost like a psychological and spiritual developmental avenue for him. And he just laughs at himself… what he did one day… [let me add first] 7s often like to talk a lot and sometimes they're very introverted, but they talk inside their minds. A 7 I know doesn't stop talking. I spent about 14 hours with him and he just didn't stop talking the whole time. I know another 7 who doesn't talk at all, but the chatter is still there (gestures towards her mind). So this client of mine [mentioned earlier], goes on silent retreats. Started with one day, two days (Iain laughs), now he's up to seven. And he loves it, because he's found that the inside is just as fascinating as the outside and maybe even more so. So that's the 7.
8s. I've had a lot of 8 clients and I have many stories about them. 8s believe that it's possible to understand true reality; the real truth of the world and they're looking for the truth and they feel that it's their job to do so, but inside they believe that the world is made up of two kinds of people: the tough and the weak. So they've learnt to be the strong or the tough and hide their vulnerability which they would see as weakness and to protect other people that they see as structurally weak. Although interestingly, if somebody looks like a victim to them, who isn't a real victim according to that particular 8, they have disdain for people who victimise themselves in their mind, but want to protect those who are true victims, so they rise up to the occasion. It's about being bold, it's about being strong and it's about being assertive, but [also about] hiding one's own vulnerability, one's own sort of tender-heartedness.
So 8s, when they get the Enneagram, it can be the biggest breakthrough in the world for them, because they love the moment of recognising that true strength comes from accepting and owning one's vulnerability as well as one's power. And it's that meeting in the moment, because they do love the truth and the Enneagram can feel like that to them. But they have to be willing to be vulnerable in order to get there, which is sort of...
Iain: It's quite difficult for them.
Ginger: It can be a challenge, but it can be a huge breakthrough.
9s believe that the world is full of unconditional regard and harmony and yet there's all this tension everywhere and they see it as their jobs to bring people together. So they become good listeners; they become facilitators; they like to draw other people out and bring them together. They don't like to create conflict themselves and so they mediate or harmonise, often at the expense of expressing their own true self, their own true voice, their own true thoughts, their true feelings. The development path for the 9, is to find out what they really believe and be able to take a position and be able to follow through on it.
There's a woman in one of my groups and I have the greatest respect for her. She's a 9, she's lovely, smart and talented. One day she came to one of these meetings where we had been working on development for several months. People looked at her and said, “Maria, what happened to you?” She said, “Well, I'm 45 years old and I was looking in the mirror. I looked and I said: Maria, you're 45 years old, if you're not going to speak up for yourself now, when? Are you going to wait until you're 55, 65?” She just decided. She had grandchildren who were young. She said, “I owe it to myself, I owe it to my grandchildren, I owe it to... I just want to... if not now when? Now is the time.” So she just started speaking her voice, saying what she thought, not waiting until the end of meetings to find out what other people thought, and then say what she wanted in a kind of unassertive way. She was always a good leader, but she became an exemplary leader. So those are the nine styles.
Iain: Good. When you go into an organisation, into a business, are you pretty much scanning people to work out their styles, or are you patient with that? How do you get the information and how do you implement that information?
Ginger: The only place I usually try to figure out what somebody's type is, is when I'm at an airport and I have a long wait and I'm bored. (Iain laughs). Then I'll see people walking along and go, “I wonder if that person is this type, or that type.” But when I go into a company I actually have materials that help people discover their own type for themselves, that are interactive.
Iain: So it's giving the power back to them again in terms of...
Ginger: It's a lot about giving the power back to them, but you know what else it is? The saying “You can't judge a book by its cover.” Many of the types do the same things, but for different reasons. I've gotten, you know, more experienced with this and I may be a little better about guessing if a person might be this type, or that type after I've been with them for a while, but you cannot [type] - I don't think anybody, and if they think they can, they maybe want to rethink this - it's so hard to tell from the outside what somebody's type is. So I have these materials that help people do it for themselves. They can be used individually or even better in groups. With the process of type-ing - there are some cards and some other things - people get pretty close. Once they get more clear - they do activities with people - they can see how different types, of the 9 different types, respond to the same stimulus.
What makes you angry? What triggers your anger and how do you respond? And why? And what's the development? Usually when we get upset, it's our own type that's getting triggered. So people can work on their own development, they can see how much their own responses are related to type. That's what I do in organisations, or leadership [I ask] “Why do you see it this way?” Well it's your paradigm of leadership versus that. Not right or wrong. Paradigms, by their nature, are limited.
Iain: And do you find that people find it relatively easy to identify their own type and style?
Ginger: Well... easy? They have to do some work. They have to go inward and look at their patterns.
Iain: There has to be a willingness there, yeah.
Ginger: They have to be, to some degree, self-aware enough to be able to see what their patterns are. Is that easy? Well, depends on the person, but if there's enough openness and enough self-awareness… Most of the time I'll go into an organisation and I'll train people to use these materials and usually within about two hours, or less, I can get most of the people, whether they are leaders or non-leaders, 85% of them, to identify their type pretty accurately. But I'm very focused on what I do. The rest of them maybe need a little bit longer, need to do some reflection; maybe are confusing one type with another. Really there are people who can study the Enneagram for a month and then discover that they aren't the type they thought they were. Some people are a little more complex, have parental overlays, have a strong parent, so you think, “Well gee I may be this type”, but underneath you're this, with a little bit of that other type overlaid.
Iain: Yeah, so really it's a tool for people to know themselves better. When they know themselves better they can act in a more intelligent way and presumably they also get to know other people better too?
Ginger: It develops compassion and appreciation, instead of irritation and annoyance. But first of all, I do think of the Enneagram more as a map than a tool. It's a map to the inner interior. I've seen some people - I do not teach it this way - just use it to go, “Oh well that's why I do this, this and this”, but not use it for development. So I think it's a map to the interior and a great opening for development and an incredible opportunity for compassion, both for other people and for oneself.
Iain: I know that one of the things that I do in my work environment - if I'm having a difficulty with somebody i.e. we're not seeing eye to eye on something, or we have a different style in terms of how we approach things - is working out in my mind what their Enneagram type may be. I don't know whether I get it right or not, but it's almost as if I'm putting myself in their shoes.
Iain: And I'm thinking, “How are they thinking, how are they feeling, why are they taking the position they are, how are they seeing me?” By doing that I find that I understand them much better. I understand why they're, in my eyes, being difficult, or not wanting to understand what I'm trying to put across. And it can change, it almost creates a field between us, because there's me trying to sit there where they are - it's not always something that comes straight away and I don't always get the answer I want – but something opens up.
Ginger: I like that story, because whether you're right or wrong, at least you're considering that the other person has a point of view and it gives you something to do instead of just reacting out of your own personality.
Now, I'm going to tell a story about this because I think it's a great story. If you imagine that you actually knew the other person's point of view, what their type was and that other person knew his or her own type, then think about how that conversation might go. There's a story that I love. I don't tell untrue stories because they're never as good as the real ones and I'm not good at telling fake stories anyway. So I had asked one of my key clients - two people, very high level vice presidents; senior vice president and a vice president - to come to an Enneagram conference to talk about the use of the Enneagram in their company and how we were doing it. There were like 70 people in the audience and one of the audience members said, “How do you deal with the fact that the Enneagram doesn't have a multitude of research to show that it is a valid system and all the benefits and praise?” And he said - one of the clients [who] is a 5 - he just really rose to the occasion and stood up. Normally 5s wouldn't necessarily stand up, but he took the microphone. He's a research scientist, one of THE most respected, three most respected people in this very large successful company and he said, “I'm a scientist so let me tell you about research. You can make the research go any direction you really want it to and you can look at the research process and find all kinds of questions about it. I know how to do that very well. So if you try to convince me about the Enneagram through research, I would be picking out the pieces of it, trying to find how it wasn't structured in a logical way. So I know about research. But let me tell you this. I'm a 5 and there's a senior vice president of the company who's an 8 and for the last 15 years we haven't been able to get along and it has completely impaired our senior leadership group from functioning. But once he recognised that I was into the Enneagram and knew my type and I recognised his and we both realised that we were using it in our respective organisations, we had a conversation about it and about our relationship. In 20 minutes we were able to undo what for the last 15 years had been a problem for us, and now not only do we work effectively together we've actually become good friends.”
Iain: So you found a way of meeting and...
Ginger: That's what he said. He said to this group, “Don't tell me about research, let me tell you about reality. This is what it [the Enneagram] can do”.
Iain: That's very interesting. We have to finish in a few minutes, but one thing I did note down was - you mentioned in one of your books - the CIA actually used the Enneagram which I found again quite fascinating. How did they use it, do you know?
Ginger: I don't know because I wasn't the person… I didn't really even know the Enneagram so well, but as I understand... I have to be careful ... but a colleague did, was to do their best guess at what the Enneagram type was of some of the foreign leaders whom they needed to deal with, to be able to predict behaviour. Because you see, the Enneagram can be highly predictive of behaviour. The issue is, you have to know the person's style accurately. So you use someone who's a very knowledgeable Enneagram person to try to do this. That's the story, and so… I don't know if they're still using it, but they did at one point.
Iain: Yeah, well it makes a lot of sense. Also I read in here the Federal Reserve Bank uses it as well. Is that via you, or just something you found out?
Ginger: Well the Fed... they don't like so much when we talk about it (smiles).
Iain: OK. It's in your book, so...
Ginger: I know. It's OK but they don't like to have the work exec talk about it. One of the branches of the Federal Reserve Bank uses it. They were one of the early users and they bring a number of Enneagram people in to teach them. When I go back tomorrow, the following week I'm going to be going up there doing some work with them. One of the people there really use it in many great ways.
It shows you there are a lot of industries that can use it. Because, my example of the 5 and 8 story is from a very big biotech pharmaceutical company; we've got banking industry, we've got governments...
Iain: And is it on the increase in terms of...
Ginger: Oh definitely. Oh definitely. I think, 10 years ago, if you took 10 people at random who were reasonably educated and who worked, and you said, “Have you ever heard of the Enneagram?”... mostly [would have said] “No.” Now, you take 10 reasonably… you know, and you say, “Have you ever heard of the Enneagram?” one person vaguely, and three people, yes. One vaguely, but isn't sure what is, the second person a little bit and a third person would actually use it him/herself, or know somebody very close who did. So its usage is increasing.
Iain: Great. It's been very interesting Ginger, thanks for coming in. I'm going to just show your books again, Bringing Out The Best in Yourself at Work. And Bringing Out The Best in Everyone You Coach, and What Type of Leader Are You? So these are all books that are available to learn more about the Enneagram. And so hopefully if you've been triggered by this programme you'll get one of the books and find out more about it and practically incorporate it in your life. It certainly worked in my life.
Thank you again for watching conscious.tv. To remind you, we'll have more programmes in this series and I hope we see you again soon. Goodbye.
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