If you wander in the right church-y circles (or not), chances are you’ve heard of the Enneagram. How you feel about the Enneagram is another matter entirely. I love personality tests as a tool for introspection and self-learning, but while Myers-Briggs makes lots of sense to me (INFJs for life!), I’ve never really been able to get my hands around the Enneagram.
Well, that hasn’t really changed, but I do feel one step closer to understanding after reading Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery,* coming out next month.
I’ve liked and followed Ian Morgan Cron for a while, now—since my friend Allison introduced me to him and I read his memoir, Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me. Just listen to him talk; you will like him, too.
The best part of The Road Back to You, I think, is the abundance of stories and anecdotes. These stories make the book fun and enjoyable to read, yes, but I think they actually make the types easier to understand. Sometimes reading the general type descriptions is just completely unhelpful for me—but tell me a story of “an eight” or “a four” in action, and it all makes sense.
In line with this, each type description includes a section on what the type was like as a child, with the idea that as children we are less guarded and less likely to have developed personae that mask our types. These sections, like the stories, were particularly telling and descriptive for me.
So, even though I still have not been able to identify my type (if anyone out there reading knows me, is already familiar with the Enneagram, and has some insight to offer, I’ll take it), would I recommend the book? Absolutely. Though, as a strangely specific and practical point, I would suggest getting the book in hard copy. My review copy was a PDF document, and I found myself often wanting to flip back and forth between sections—not the easiest thing to do with a PDF on an iPad.
The Road Back to You is, at the least, an enjoyable read. But it is also much more than that. Learning about how others around you operate just might make you more understanding and compassionate. And—especially if you’re able to do a better job than I did at identifying your type—reading this book just might help you transform yourself. Or, rather, become more fully yourself.
Towards the end of the book, Ian quotes Thomas Merton: “For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self.” I think a big component of any spiritual journey is becoming more and more one’s true self. As Martin Buber relays the Hasidic tale, “Rabbi Zusya said, “In the coming world, they will not ask me: ‘Why were you not Moses?’ They will ask me: ‘Why were you not Zusya?’” God isn’t comparing us to others—we do that all on our own. What God wants for us is for us to realize our unique gifts and weaknesses and callings, and the only path to this realization is a path of self-discovery.
*I received an early copy of the book with the expectation that I would blog about/publicize the book before its release.
Have any of you used the Enneagram? What’s your number? How did it help you?