In the last few months, my sense of the state of the Enneagram has never been better, so here are some of the reasons for my increasingly optimistic view:
The Global Enneagram Spread is Huge
The Enneagram seems to be everywhere at this point, no longer just in a few countries en masse. For example, my Facebook page (friend and professional) has “friends” or “likes” from many countries around the world, and these folks are all connected with other people I don’t know. I am sure this is true for many people in the Enneagram world, because we are meeting one another in-person at training programs and conferences, as well as virtually through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more.
As another example, the IEA Conference is becoming increasingly international. Not so long ago, the Board of Directors was 8% or more from the US, but no longer. Local IEA Affiliates are emerging in 17+ countries, and many of them are quite vibrant.
As a third example, when the Enneagram in Business network embarked on a major Benchmark Study of Best Practices for using the Enneagram in organizations, we uncovered the fact that at least 72 organizations in 20 different countries had been using the Enneagram for 18+ months with sustainable results, and some had been using the Enneagram as long as 13 years. If we found 72, there must be thousands who have been using it less than 18 months.
Finally, my iPhone App – Know Your Type – has been sold (in English) in close to 40 countries. That is amazing. My website, TheEnneagramInBusiness.com gets “visits” from 72+ countries, and it is in English only.
Enneagram Teachers Are Being More Collaborative
Maybe we’ve learned that there is enough to go around (not sure exactly what the historical competition has been about!), but it just feels like there’s more camaraderie and less competition among Enneagram teachers. Or maybe teachers have just decided that we’re all going to be around for a while, so we might as well enjoy one another’s company.
What are my data points? Well, the recent IEA conference seemed the least competitive ever, and this made it really pleasant. Enneagram teachers one wouldn’t expect are sometimes teaching together. For example, David Daniels teamed with Russ Hudson at the last IEA conference. Russ and I have teamed at an IEA China conference when they needed a “filler” at the last minute, and since we were already presenting there, we decided it would be more fun to do it together. Russ and I also had dinner, intentionally just the two of us, in Florida right before the IEA conference, and it was unbelievably fun to just relax and let it flow.
And I would have to say that, in general, my intuition tells me that more of this collaborative goodwill is forthcoming. That is really a prediction.
Enneagram Knowledge and Insight Are Growing
One thing that used to disturb me the most was what I perceived as people in the Enneagram world trying to “establish” themselves or reinforce themselves as Enneagram experts by creating theory, too much of which was unsubstantiated and often quite wrong. I use the word “wrong” and it is a strong word, because this false (or what I perceived as speculative) “theory” never matched any reality that I observed in others or myself.
But, I am seeing less and less of that at conferences, in books and articles, on Facebook and LinkedIn, and more. The quality of the conversations about type has increased so markedly that I am left with one hopeful conclusion: more people know enough about the system and the types that those who are promoting false theory are getting limited attention. People just know too much to believe what is not really true. This is really good for the future of the Enneagram.
There’s a Generational Enneagram Surge
More and more younger people are getting excited about the Enneagram. This is obvious on Facebook where a site titled “Enneagram” was created by and for the college age and above generation. Young people are showing up at the IEA conferences, parents have gotten their children excited about it, universities are teaching it, and more. Really, they are our future.
Fifteen years ago, the common thinking was that a person had to be at least 40 to be able to know yourself well enough to benefit from the Enneagram. Fortunately, this is no longer the thinking. Experience has given us a different story to tell.
Enneagram Applications Are Occurring Where They Are Desperately Needed
My two very favorite sessions at the summer IEA conference were on two very different Enneagram applications. One was women is prison; these were 20 years to life women who typically were abused in their youth, then did something illegal (not even murder), and were spending most or all of their lives in prison. The presenters, Diana Pendola and Susan Olesek, told us what they tell the women: just because you are living in prison doesn’t mean you have to live inside your own prison! I immediately enlisted to help them. And, I know at least 5 other people using the Enneagram in prison work.
Equally inspiring were Chris Southard and Paul Van der Grift who use the Enneagram with college age students. And they had 6 college students with them, all charming, shy, bold, and highly expressive. And all told their stories of how the Enneagram had helped them. Ok, I enlisted myself to help them, too.
I think as an Enneagram community, we’re getting more coherent and cohesive. Here I’m talking about intention, tone, offerings, seriousness of purpose, and more. And it is looking good!