“You take your life in your hands, and what happens?
A terrible thing: no one to blame.”
Here we are at # 8; the last in the current Enneagram Series. (For now at least.) I’ve been trying to think of a way to wrap up the Series with something ‘special’, but what seems natural is just to talk about the experience.
In case you missed it, this Enneagram Series was prompted by a Toastmasters assignment that I took on. “Post 8 blogs in a month”, it said. “A bit excessive,” I thought. But probably exactly what I needed to blast through all of my resistance. I knew that once I committed, there would be no more wallowing in my stories about why “I can’t do this”. There’d be no way out, only forward! A hero’s journey. (Hey, it’s my story!)
Day one: I was dead in the water. I struggled with WordPress, the ‘blog launching program’, for a couple of painful hours. Then, in desperation, I called out for help; not something I do naturally. In fact, it is more accurate to say that I called out for sympathy! As you know ‘help’, though well intended, is often not very helpful. People say…do this or that…you try it, you fail, and now you feel more depressed.
For me, starting a blog was overwhelming. So much to learn. Where do I start?
Help arrived in abundance. Friends, who are bloggers, mentored and encouraged me. But, it was Katherine Scott, a Toastmasters friend, who turned out to be my lifesaver. She took me by the hand and cheerfully, “I think you’ve had enough for today”, guided and mothered me, over the phone, through the first painful postings.
Another Toastmasters friend, Becky Beaton, showed up as my proofreader and my tactful, “this doesn’t make any sense Mike”, editor. She taught me about active voice vs passive voice, and how to use “I, we, you” orientation in the writing. Becky was my sounding board when I needed help getting unstuck. Perhaps, best of all, she taught me to read the copy out loud several times to make sure it flows and sounds natural and conversational.
There were several practical reasons for doing this blog. The process forced me to clarify my thinking about the Enneagram in a way I would not have done otherwise. Katherine suggested turning the Series into an ebook, to give away. Good idea. For future New Retirement Projects, it will be a great hand out and reference resource. For past and current clients, the blog is a good way to stay connected and “keep the conversation alive”. For potential clients, it is a way to connect and whet their appetite. In all cases, I hope, it’s a good way to share useful ideas.
Breaking News! I just received an email from an old friend and client, Al Cook, Facility Manager at an Ontario School Board. A note to say that he’s retiring. Al is one of a few clients over the years who became a special friend. When I was doing my Enneagram training, some years ago, I asked Al to do the Enneagram questionnaire. It turned out that he was a ‘Helper’ in the Enneagram model. He didn’t care for that much. As an engineer and a Facility Manager, he joked that he was hoping for something a bit “more manly”. I tried to console him by telling him that Jesus was a Helper, but that didn’t ‘ help’. So he did the Enneagram again. Still a Helper! Al is also ex-military and, as it happened, he was heading to a class reunion at RMC in Kingston. “Great,” I said, “you can tell the boys that you’re a Helper. “Ya”, he said, “they’ll order me to go get them drinks”. We never talked about the Enneagram again. (Sorry Al. Couldn’t resist. Good memories.)
Closing Story: Everyday application of the Enneagram
My son PJ took me to see Neil Young last week in Vancouver. (That’s Neil in the spotlight. Honest.) It was a birthday treat. The show was mostly a walk through fifty years of memories. He did offer some new stuff; mostly about environmental issues. ” Green is blue”, I thought was a good line. Staying relevant. Good to see.
On the ferry trip over from Gibsons, I had an experience that was a good example of an everyday application of the Enneagram teachings. A small thing that could have had big negative consequences; the sort of thing that happens to everyone almost every day.
Raymonde dropped me off at the ferry at Langdale to ‘walk on’. On the way to the waiting room, I recognized the man walking in front of me. It was John, the husband of one of Raymonde’s ‘Dragon Boating’ friends. I noticed that all he was carrying a hardcover book. As we sat down I said “Hi John”, expecting an enthusiastic response. Instead, I got a weak smile, a nod and then he was into his book. He was right across from me.
It was the sort of thing that can leave a person feeling offended. John’s behaviour could be interpreted as rude. It could leave a bad feeling. It could cause one to start thinking “ what’s up with him” or “what have I done.” Imagination making up stories.
I’m guessing that John is a Researcher; Enneagram Type 5. In any case, it was obvious that he wanted “me time”. I saw the book and I know Type 5 is a ‘head type’. They like to separate themselves. They love to be in their heads, lost in thinking. He’d probably been looking forward to this escape all morning, and then I come along all smiley and friendly and wanting to chat. ….Horrors. Go away!
Perhaps he didn’t recognize me. I hadn’t seen him for some time. I know he sees a lot of people in his work day. In any case, I knew it wasn’t personal. Or I should say, I chose not to make it personal. He was just being John. He needed his ‘me-time’.
You don’t need to be an expert in the Enneagram to observe people and situations in this way. I can’t tell at a glance what a person’s Type is, but I can start gathering information by paying attention. I can observe a person’s behaviour and I can see my emotional reactions and judgements. I can observe myself starting to take it personally. And, I can let it all go! I can allow the person to be who they are without judgement.
It is so liberating!
Notes: Future blogs will generally be within the framework of the New Retirement Project.
If you want to know your Enneagram Type, request a free copy of our self-scoring questionnaire. Once you identify your Type, I will send you a free Report along with suggestions for further exploration.
There is a cool Enneagram app called ‘EnneaApp’. It’s three bucks. It’s a quick and handy reference resource.
Comments are welcome.