My colleague Laura and I just taught another Enneagram workshop recently. The Enneagram (pronounced "ANY-a-gram) is a geometric figure that maps nine fundamental personality types of human nature and their interrelationships. It's a development of modern psychology that has its roots in spiritual wisdom from many different ancient traditions. (Our next one is in May. You can register here.)
We teach it because we've found it to be one of the most reliable tools we can use toward real self-knowledge. It's certainly not the only tool, but it's a darn good one. One of its core principles is that our personalities aren't actually us. All of us have an Essence that's deeper than personality, culture, geography, education, gender, sexual orientation, or role (mother, father, boss, sister, etc). Though there are nine personality types, we are both special and not special. We are each a universe unto ourselves, but we also share the same essential longings--to be connected, to be seen, to be loved, to experience joy and beauty and meaning.
So I'm always wondering, "What does it look like to operate from my Essence?" If someone were to follow me around with a video camera, watching how I interact with my husband, my kids, my clients, my friends, or the clerk at the grocery store, what might clue them into the fact that occasionally, on a particularly enlightened day, I'm operating from that deepest place in myself? Here's a few things I hope they'd see, and some of the things I coach my clients toward:
Lightness and a sense of humor. Can I see how I'm getting in my own way, and can I laugh about it? Can I laugh even about my mistakes and my failings? Though I'm serious about my commitments and values, do I laugh often?
Acceptance instead of striving. When something veers off-script (as it does every day), am I able to take a deep breath and readjust? Jack Kornfield says, "The unawakened mind makes war against what is." Can I be with what is even while I'm working toward a vision of something better or different? Can I work with my clients to help introduce change at a rate people can absorb? Can I actually enjoy the process instead of get impatient?
Delight in difference. When I encounter someone else who's doing something in a way I've never thought of, do I learn from that? Do I enjoy the different perspective they bring? Do I realize there's lots of right ways to do things? Is my range of "normal" wide? Can I greet difference with curiosity instead of fear?
Purpose-filled. Russ Hudson, a favorite Enneagram teacher, says, "If we reflect for a moment, we may realize what our hearts yearn for is to know who we are and why we are here." So we all have that yearning. The question is, are we paying attention to it or not? If I'm paying attention to it, every day, no matter how monotonous, has glimmers of purpose. I know who I am and what I'm here on this earth to do. And that makes me a better parent, a better leadership coach, a better facilitator, a happier human.
What about you? What would the video clip look like?