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Engaging in the Journey with the Enneagram by Kristin Koch

Kristin Koch, Graduate Apprentice for Multicultural Affairs

For many HESA students, graduate school can feel like we are standing on a bridge that connects our undergraduate experience to our future career.  The good news is that we can cross this bridge successfully in a few ways: we can keep our head down and put one foot in front of the other to get to the other side, or we can lift our eyes and actively engage in the journey.  I have found the latter to be extremely rewarding, but it is easier said than done when the piles of homework, apprenticeship hours, and practicum responsibilities stack up.  Luckily, when the opportunity to learn about the Enneagram came up, I took time out of my schedule to engage in it and experienced incredible personal and professional growth.

The Enneagram is a personality system that consists of 9 types with distinct underlying motivations and fears.  Learning this system shed light on the best and worst parts of myself and provided me with a common language to articulate my way of being in the world.  In the short period of time I have worked with the Enneagram, it has radically improved my ability to work in collaborative environments because I am gaining greater control over my unhealthy habits and learning that not everyone approaches life the same way that I do.

I am a One on the Enneagram, which is known as the Perfectionist or Reformer.  This type is characterized by the underlying need to be perfect and the fear of not being good enough.  At my best, I work to be a better version of myself and to fix injustices in the world around me.  At my worst, I constantly criticize and resent others when I spot their imperfections.  This dark side of my personality contributes to many of the mistakes I make in my personal relationships and work environments, but the Enneagram provides a language to articulate these destructive behaviors and thought patterns so I can modify them.  By understanding that I am overly critical, I can strive to show more grace to myself and others when we inevitably fall short of perfection.  By acknowledging my tendency to repress anger until it turns into resentment, I can start dealing with my emotions before internalizing them and letting them fester.

The Enneagram has helped me practice self-reflection and create new, healthy habits to improve my interactions with others.  These changes will serve me well in student affairs as I work with many different types of staff and students, so I am forever grateful that I did not miss out on this transformational experience.  If I have learned anything about standing on this bridge between college and career, it is that actively engaging in the journey can better prepare us for reaching the other side.  So, keep your head up, look around for out-of-the-ordinary opportunities, and be willing to say “yes.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Enneagram, here is a short list of available resources:

The Road Back to You by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile

The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson (and their corresponding website called: The Enneagram Institute)

Longways Ministries Blog by David Stamile

megan_michener • September 26, 2017

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  1. Kevin “Moves Like Jagger” Singer September 26, 2017 - 6:20 pm Reply

    I’m a 7, 8 wing – don’t @ me

    Kevin Singer

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