As many of us kick off our working year, we are no doubt looking at new plans, new ways to adapt, improving on some issues and letting go of unhelpful habits. But 2021 is not business as usual, the toll that last year took on all of humanity and the continued war that COVID is waging has many of us just not ready to face another year.
So how do we move forward and how do we continue after being faced by such mayhem and destruction and how do we find our energy again?
The answer as always is that we need to take stock. We need to measure our starting points and to do this we need to sit back and reflect. Reflecting on our personal habitual responses to both good and bad news and then adjusting these if and when necessary to try and get better results. After all it seems crazy to always just do what you did and to expect different outcomes.
This is where the Enneagram becomes such a useful personal development tool. One that allows us a glimpse of insight into our natural responses, especially those exhibited under stress and duress.
For the Enneagram 1 personality there is often a need to work through a process or to put a process in place to achieve their vision of the perfect outcome. In times of major uncertainty it becomes extremely overwhelming for the 1 personality to visualise that outcome and process, creating stress, anxiety and frustration that can make them appear to be hyper critical of themselves, others or the solution on the table. Simultaneously feeling as if they are “bad” people for having these thoughts and emotions, especially if others have problems they perceive to be bigger than their own.
For the Enneagram 2 personality with their need for kindness and world peace, they are constantly seeking to be of service to others who are in any kind of need. When too many people around the 2 personality are in need, it leads to compassion fatigue, a feeling of being overworked and trapped in a cycle of despair as there is simply not enough time to put their own agenda and personal needs on the priority list, or even just to recognise them for that matter. This failure to fuel their own tanks then leads to a feeling of resentment that makes the 2 personality much harsher than they want to be, or like to be and in turn they feel bad about not being a kind person.
For the Enneagram 3 personality who have a need to achieve and to be seen as achieving, whether as individuals or in a team 2020 has certainly brought a new game. With all our new ways of interacting and off site teams that needed quick adjustment, no doubt dropping a ball or two, the 3 personality would have worked harder and chased the victory nearly at all costs to reach the level of achievement they sought, likely having worked themselves into a near coma and in the process possibly having lost a bit of the human connection they so desperately need, but don’t always know to ask for, to keep their equilibrium.
The Enneagram 4 personality has no doubt nearly without exception deeply felt the effects of 2020, taking them to a level of deep despair for the future of humanity. They would likely have creatively found ways forward in their response to the changes forced on us, or even just been the crucible that held everyone’s emotions. But what we do know is if there was pain, whether that of a loved one, an acquaintance or a passer-by, or even their own, the Enneagram 4 tapped into the pain and as empaths 2020 would possibly have taken a heavy toll on their emotional strength.
The Enneagram 5 personality having a natural need for privacy and knowledge has likely appreciated the ability to work remotely, undisturbed and on a time line that suits their musings. They may be out of sorts with the lack of clarity and conflicting information regarding responses to COVID and the various approaches taken as anti- measures, but if this is not an area of interest to them, it is likely that they have taken on some of the company backlog and cleared it out as they find they have more inner reserves. They could however be struggling with the volatility in the workplace right now, leading to higher levels of stress and greater levels of withdrawal as they try and make sense of what is in many ways nonsensical.
The Enneagram 6 personality has a need for teamwork and collaboration, for learning and for task orientation in a safe space and it is highly unlikely that there is a 6 who has not enjoyed the ability to work from home, unless of course they find their home environment threatening. The anxiety of possible financial instability will however be sitting deeply with the 6 personality. The 6’s have likely taken on new learning opportunities and delved deeper into projects expanding their peripheries to ensure that they can prepare for any apparent risk. Sadly as we are in unchartered waters a lot of this would have come along with additional stress and anxiety, which may have well been projected onto their tasks or team members, making the 6 appear difficult or negative.
The Enneagram 7 have the strength of adaptability and would have spent a large portion of their time on finding solutions and trying to move forward, nearly happily trundling along, ignoring the real threats out there as long as they could. Having said that they may have had a natural resentment of the new COVID rules as they would have found these quite limiting in some cases. Working from home may well have gone either way for the 7 as with all the distractions of having to clean up and create order may well have made it tough for them to settle into the discipline that the office naturally brings. Or of course the office could be more chaotic in which case it has helped the 7 with their focus, either way the 7 personality is on the surface going to be all about finding the fun and the lightness in the craziness that surrounds us, or even the opportunity!
The Enneagram 8 has no doubt soldiered through and made some tough decisions as the world around them changed, with their go forward attitude the 8 would have been a stalwart in this time of uncertainty, simplifying the decision making and using their bravery (sometimes born from denial) to encourage and embolden those around them. On the whole the 8 would have kept the pressure on their teams not really taking “no” for an answer as they fight to ensure the livelihoods of those they feel they carry responsibility for.
The Enneagram 9 most likely has found the changes a little bit unsettling, but since they will by now be in their new rhythm, they could well be enjoying the peace and quiet around them if not missing the human interaction a little bit. On the whole, the 9’s being peacemakers are the ones sending out friendly messages and morning greetings holding the human connection together. The toll being taken on the 9 could well be that they are getting too comfortable on their couches and may find a level of disconnection taking place without actually identifying what it is that is missing.
When we take these natural responses into consideration it is no wonder that a better cognitive awareness of our responses will help us to make better decisions. And if there is one thing that is irrefutable, it is that if 2021 follows a similar pattern to 2020 based on our macro influencers, it is highly likely that our ability to adapt is going to be one of the most important skills we can develop to improve our leadership ability.