What the Enneagram Is Not

Updated: October 17, 2023
3 minutes read
The Enneagram can be a lot of things. Please don't make it any of these.

Have you heard the saying “When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”?

Well, for all the things the Enneagram is fantastic at, used the wrong way, you’re basically trying to turn a screw with a hammer.

Not only will you not get the job done, you will also ruin the screw.

Here’s a short list of six things to keep in mind that the Enneagram – for everything it is – is not.

What you will learn

1. The Enneagram isn’t a Buzzfeed quiz

The Enneagram isn’t one of those funny personality quizzes that tell you which superhero, Disney character or variety of potato you are. If that disappoints you now, we’re sorry.

The Enneagram system of personality wants to help you get actual, deep insights into who you are and why you do the things you do. To do that, it will also have to shine a light on those sides of you which you might not like. But that’s where the actual good stuff is.

2. The Enneagram isn’t your career advisor

The Enneagram won’t tell you what job to take, or even what kind of industry best fits you. While certain types can be found more often in certain roles and fields, no type is limited to any kind of work. Especially since, as we said before, the Enneagram doesn’t want you to stay fixed in your personality type, but explore the whole range of personality.

For example, every type is creative, not just type Four (as is often wrongly insinuated). Every type can be a great leader, not just type One. Everyone can be a devoted follower (not just type Six), a capable manager (not just type Eight) or a skilled employee (not just type Five), an independent entrepreneur (not just type Three) and a terrific stay-at-home dad or mom (not just type Two). Your personality doesn’t limit your job choices.

3. The Enneagram isn’t your partner matching app

Many people, when they first encounter the Enneagram, want to know if it can tell them which type best suits them romantically. We get lots of questions like „If I’m a type Four, should I marry a type Eight or a type One?“

Here’s the thing: You can love, marry and get divorced from any type of person. History has proven that repeatedly. The best and only advice we can give when people ask us which type makes for the happiest relationship is:

A healthy one.

Your level of maturity has much more to say about how well your relationships will work than which Enneagram type your better half is.

What the Enneagram is Not – Tinder
Don’t put your Enneagram type on Tinder, please.

4. The Enneagram isn’t your get-out-of-jail-free card

We said that the Enneagram wants to help you to stop identifying with your personality type. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the first impulse of many of us is when we first find out about our type. We start identifying with it – and use it to justify our behavior. „Well, you know how Sixes are“ – „Guess that’s just what Twos do!“ – „Sorry, I’m a Nine“ and so on.

That’s the opposite of what this whole things is all about. Instead of identifying with your type, you get the chance to see how your type limits you so you can get the freedom of not being dependent on it anymore.

5. The Enneagram isn’t the holy grail of personality

The Enneagram, while being powerful and useful, is not the end of wisdom. Every human being is ultimately unique, mysterious, and unpredictable. Even the Enneagram can’t tell you everything there is to know about human personality.

For example, the Enneagram says nothing about things like talents and gifts, social upbringing, education, or intelligence. Those are all completely independent areas and should not be confused with what the Enneagram tries to do.

6. The Enneagram isn’t your new religion

Please, don’t make the Enneagram your new god, your new ideology or your new bible. We promise that you will be disappointed. Apart from all the answers it won’t be able to give you, it will also make you look pretty silly in front of your friends. The Enneagram, while ancient in parts, is neither the key to unlock the ultimate mysteries of the universe, nor a set of rules to grant you enlightenment and eternal life if followed correctly.

It’s a tool.

You wouldn’t worship a screwdriver. So please do everyone (including yourself) a favor and don’t worship the Enneagram.

Not a Deity.

At the end of this article, especially after so many negatives, I want to leave you with one thing the Enneagram can do for you:

If you neither worship it nor treat it superficially, but actually take it seriously, then the Enneagram can help you live a life of greater freedom, awareness, and compassion for yourself and others.

I can use those big words because I have experienced it myself.

Heck, I’m experiencing it right now.

So maybe give it a try.

Get smarter.
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Hey there, I’m Chris. I write stuff around here.

Our passion at Personality Path is trying to figure out how to be less of a terrible and more of a decent human being, using the latest in psychology and self-development. Our bi-weekly newsletter is how we keep you up to date on what we find. Wanna come?

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Eugene Choi
Eugene Choi
1 year ago

Great post Chris! I love the fourth bullet point that The Enneagram is not your get out of jail free card. Too many times I’ve had my friends excuse their behavior because of their enneagram type. It gives them an excuse to continue acting the way they want to act without any personality accountability.

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