Making Sense of the Enneagram: More than a Number

by Sami

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If you’ve lived in Nashville for any length of time, you’ve likely heard of the Enneagram. But what is it and what does it really mean for your everyday life? I needed help making sense of the Enneagram, so I sought help from an expert.

On the January episode of The Sami Cone Show, I was joined by Enneagram Coach, Evan Barbee. Evan helped us not only dispel some myths, but learn about how the enneagram is more than a number and can help improve our relationships.

If you want to meet the Enneagram and get to the bottom of what it is and what it isn’t, this is for you. We review:

  • What is the Enneagram?
  • Why do we keep hearing about it?
  • Why do people keep trying to label me with a number?
  • What do we get wrong about the Enneagram?
  • Where do I go to learn more?
Making Sense of the Enneagram The Sami Cone Show episode 5

Meet the Enneagram: Making Sense of the Enneagram

Below is a synopsis of what you’ll see in our interview about the Enneagram on the January episode of The Sami Cone Show, provided by Evan Barbee.

What is the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is arguably the oldest human development system in existence. Though it is of ancient origins, the Enneagram aligns with modern psychology and the most current findings in the field of neuroscience. This symbol describes 9 different “stances”, 9 relationships with the world around us. This system describes the patterns associated with personality – patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving related to survival strategies we developed during our early developmental years.

Becoming aware of these unconscious patterns and reflexes gives us an opportunity to live with more freedom of choice- responding rather than reacting.

Why Do We Keep Hearing About It?

The Enneagram has taken hold of Nashville! Because there is no religious component or ideology, this system is really flexible and can be adapted to any sphere. It is currently being taught in churches, in the corporate world, even in corrections. (I volunteer as an educator in a program through DCSO, serving incarcerated women).

the sami cone show episode 5 making sense of the enneagram with evan barbee

Why Do My Friends Keep Labeling Me with a Number?

Because this system is so accurate and offers insight into ourselves and other people, we tend to get really excited and bulldoze our way through our friend group with this new information.

However, no one can type you!​It is not about evaluating behavior and making assumptions, it is about an inner experience – what drives the behavior. So typing other people is actually a misapplication of the system.

What Do We Get Wrong With the Enneagram?

  • You are more than a number,​this is a practice for creating personal freedom. Not for adding a label.
  • Because this system spread so rapidly, there is a lot of misinformation out there. It is really important to learn this from a reputable source. People don’t know what they don’t know and I have seen this information misused and people have been unintentionally hurt. So be careful what sources you draw from! I would stick with one of the top training schools out there, TNE and the Enneagram Institute.
  • This a really complex system and we want to respect that and avoid making assumptions about other people. So resist the temptation to type other people unless you are a trained practitioner.

Where Do I Go to Learn More?

I have several resources and upcoming events on my website​. Reading books are great, but the real-life application of this needs to be done in community. I teach locally and produce a lot of workshops. You can join my Meetup Group which is called “Narrative Enneagram Nashville” and currently has nearly 400 members. 

My favorite book is called “Essential Enneagram”​ and was co-authored by the late Dr. David Daniels, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford medical school who co-founded TNE with Helen Palmer. This book is so concise and practical I use it with all of my clients. 

For those of you confused about your type​, I offer typing interview sessions which tend to be more accurate than online tests. Beyond that, I am a coach in private practice and ​I work both with individuals and with executive teams in leadership development.


Watch my Enneagram segment below:

You can find all the segments from Episode 5 of The Sami Cone Show here.

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