Confessions of a FIVE: The Tortoise and the Hare

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Confessions of a FIVE: The Tortoise and the Hare

You may have read my other blogs written primarily about me and thought ‘I just don’t relate at all!’ See if this is more relatable! This blog is written from a conversation I recently had with my friend, Darlene, who is a FIVE. FIVES have a high priority to be knowledgeable, capable, and competent. They fear being annihilated or being thought incapable. In order to combat these fears, FIVES really try to budget out their resources, time, energy, and talents, so that they don’t run out. But once these resources are out, they withdraw completely. Several months ago, Darlene learned about her motivations as a FIVE and had a huge Ah-Ha moment. She felt like it gave words to behaviors that she had always done that didn’t feel unhealthy for her, but she could never express to others why she did them.

Darlene told me a story of when she went from being a teacher to an administrator at the church where her husband was a pastor. She felt very incapable but knew quickly how to get over that feeling. She poured herself into books, trainings, and asked other administrators for advice before she even started administrating. There was no “winging it” for Darlene! But none of that prepared her for actually administering for her boss. He was a big picture thinker that would have huge ideas and valued quick thinking. She was methodical and researched and analyzed for what seemed like a long time to others, and Darlene quickly saw that her friendship with her boss was in jeopardy, not to mention her job. Darlene eventually learned to communicate her need for time to research the best ways to carry out the big picture and to handle a huge amount of small details so that he could keep dreaming. The decisions and plans were going to have to be at her slower pace, not his and that it would do no good to rush her. That brought about understanding to the key differences between Darlene and her boss. Instead of backing away and trying to get more head knowledge or not wanting to engage at all, she was able to clearly state her motivations for her behavior and that allowed for understanding.

Ian Cron, the author of The Road back to You, frequently says in his podcast, Typology, that knowing the Enneagram can cut out years of conflict from a business and organization by seeing other people’s value and perspective and clearly knowing your own. The Enneagram teaches that there are at lease NINE perspectives to any given situation. Darlene had a perspective that her boss had given her a task and she wanted to do it well which meant taking the time to research and come up with the right solution. Her boss wanted his idea carried out quickly because his brain was going a mile a minute. What looked like her taking a break on the side of the road like the tortoise while he rushed along like the hare, was actually not her motivation at all. These key differences almost derailed their working relationship and their friendship. From personal experience, I have now heard her boss speak of Darlene with the upmost respect. He says that she was the greatest administrator that he ever had and that he valued what she bought to their several years of working together. This success was partly due to mutual understanding.

Then she mentioned that even now she gets upset when other people say she is insecure and shy. She doesn’t think she is either of those things. “When do others say or infer that?” I ask.

“I think when I am taking a long time to make a decision. It looks like I am unsure of myself,” she said after some thought.

That completely makes sense to me! Once again the Enneagram doesn’t look at behaviors but at motivation. I was able to give her words to use to explain that what looks like indecision, is actually a strong desire to get a fuller knowledge and understanding of a situation before making a decision and wanting to appear capable. Different people can portray the same behavior but for completely different reasons. For example, a NINE may be delaying a decision because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feeling, and they want to keep their inner world peaceful. And a SIX may delay a decision because they fear making the wrong decision and have to please their inner committee that is speaking loudly in their heads.

Darlene said that she was a FIVE wing SIX. A person has their dominant type but can draw strengths and weaknesses from the numbers to the right and left of their number. As just mentioned, a SIX needs the security of others and highly values input from everyone. So you can see how this creates very slow and methodical decisions. But when they come up with the plan and implement it, then WATCH OUT!

Darlene is now over many organizations in the church that her husband is lead pastor at in Connecticut. She said that she still double- and triple-guesses her decisions as part of her decision-making process. I asked her if she was ever able to rest in the decisions that she makes. She said that she finally learned to rest when she could tell people that she was okay with her decision. She gave an example of picking out the carpet color for her church’s recent renovation. People would ask her if she was sure and then would bring up other suggestions. She can now finally say, “I’m the one that has to live with this decision and I like it!” I love that the Enneagram can give everyone the confidence to believe in themselves while giving the freedom to see other’s perspectives without your own perspective being threatened. If we can utilize the Enneagram with that goal in mind, then it is true relationship gold!

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Britt is a licensed Enneagram coach and is in the process of pursuing her Master’s degree in Counseling. Through the pain of self-discovery, she has found healing from the chains and shame that held her captive for decades!