Kinkajou: Tell us about the worker characteristics of the various enneagram types.
Erasmus: It’s not what is good or bad, more about fit between the job and the worker. Every enneagram type has its strengths and weaknesses.
Enneagram Type 1: They tend to be meticulous, careful and precisionist. These are characteristics that can be very much appreciated in professions like architecture. I would suggest that it would be best not to have them working on a project that doesn’t know where it is going or how it will get there.
Enneagram Type 2: This type is often good behind the scenes motivators and workers. They expect reward but not necessarily glory. They probably recognize the risk in seeking glory due to their thinking gene.
Enneagram Type 3: “Threes” are hardworking but tend to follow rules. If they can be encourage to leave the accepted path, they can be quite good innovators balancing ideas with resources.
Homeless Man working hard
Enneagram Type 4: These individuals have ideas, energy, drive. Make sure you pat them on the head and stroke their ego. Don’t; even think about doing that to their competition. They have a definite willingness to put thought into action.
Homeless and hopeless
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Enneagram Type 5: are often regarded as thinkers and knowledge finders and holders. “Fives” are not a commonly appreciated enneagram type.
Enneagram Type 6: This enneagram type is oft described as sarcastic, cynical thinkers and planners. Good if you have to feel your way, especially in dangerous waters.
Enneagram Type 7: What these people can do can be amazing. Entrepreneurs of a wilderness where none has gone before. Things that other types just don’t get their head around. And they do it fast. They are inventive and ideas people. But the ideas can cover every aspect from good to totally impractical with equal emphasis. They may be described by the phrase, “sometime fools rush in and just get the job done”.
My friend’s son once said to me anyone can make up all sorts of things, though maybe "sevens" are the best and quickest. But the true reward is in thinking up the idea that will best deal with the rules under which you are operating. “Sevens have lots of ideas, but not necessarily practical ideas.
Interestingly, I have known Asian parents of an enneagram seven desperately disappointed in the gene mix of their son- desperately wanting him to be a three instead- in effect to espouse the cultural values of energy and industry prevalent in the Chinese culture in which they grew up.
Enneagram Type 8: These individuals often develop Great entrepreneurs and work horses. They are often described as not too bright due to their tendency to stick with the plan or their own direction and not take on board new input. If I was a soldier fighting at Singapore WW2, I would want an “eight” in charge. They are not particularly considerate bosses often though they can become quite protective of them and theirs. They have a great ability to push on and to drive others with them in spite of the pain inherent in the process.
Enneagram Type 9: “Nines” are great mediators. They are great on government projects where a lot of decisions don’t need to be made, jobs especially with reference to a lot of other people and good at keeping lots of personalities happy. They work well with gestalt consensus management. Often prefer routine tasks. As managers they are renowned for reducing conflicts, they tend not to quarrel or fight with many or any.
Homeless and taking it easy
Kinkajou: We’ve talked a Lot about Personality and Nations. Can You Give any Historical Examples or the enneagram and Work?
Erasmus: Civilization on this planet blossomed initially in Sumeria and the Nile Valley. Sumerian civilization grew fast on a flood of innovation:
- New plants
- New cropping methods
- New technology
Their civilization gives us a clue to their national enneagram character. Most Sumerian cities were a hodgepodge of irregular streets characterized by a number of moderate sized ziggurats. No streets ran straight. Everything seemed to grow organically with no plan apparent in the building. The empires in Sumeria were “hard a building”. If a king conquered a neighboring city, often one of the cities would revolt and the king had to go and reconquer the city again. This happened time and time and time again over the millennia.
Assembly Point at Work
Perhaps the Sumerians were “sevens”. This is almost exactly the sort of civilization that I think “sevens would build. Fast irregular, disorganized. A tendency to think on your feet probably means a tendency to revolt on your feet as well. No empires here. Out for what they could get, fast enough to see an opening and take it.
A very different civilization grew up in Egypt. This civilization had the largest and most impressive monuments. Their cities tended to be bit more planned. The regions became and stayed an empire for much longer and better than the Sumerian city states. Perhaps an “eight” civilization.
There was another contender for the crown of birthplace of civilization. These were the city states of Mohenjo-Daro in India/ Pakistan. These grew slowly, following the technology of the other city states- namely Sumeria but never really quite blossomed. Perhaps a civilization of “ones”. (The situation suggests human migration and technological transfers as the engine for the growth of this civilization, not native innovation.
Erasmus: So there may indeed be a basis for the birth of civilization to be based on the Enneagram genes. Civilization happened because the people were the sorts of people who could make it happen. It developed in very particular ways: hodgepodge vs. biggest and best vs. carefully, dependent on the gene constitution of the people involved. The individual’s genes direct how they work and hence the civilization they built.
The only major personality gene not involved with its own civilization was the “six” gene. This may be more a reflection of the relative scarcity of the gene and its distribution into areas where civilization may be difficult to sprout than a comment on the civilization potential of this gene.
Sixes also blend well with other types – so perhaps if the ancient of China could be described as enneagram three-ish. This may be where all the sixes went.
Alternatively a gene mix of enneagram one genes and enneagram sixes would guarantee a very slowly burgeoning civilization as well, much akin to the civilization springing up in the Indus Valley ancient river civilisation at the dawn of our history.
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Goo: In summary, genes matter. The birth of civilization, growth and death of nations throughout history and work practices may well reflect the enneagram gene mix of the people involved. How people work and how they do things would definitely relate to an individual’s genetics.