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What’s the Enneagram and Why is Everyone Talking About It?

Have you wondered what all the hype is with the Enneagram test? Why is everyone posting about their numbers on social media? It may seem like another personality test that either tells you you’re bossy, timid or shy – and while some of that may play into the Enneagram, there’s so much more to it.

What is an Enneagram and why is everyone talking about it?

We sat down with one of our Enneagram experts, Kurt Olson, Vice President of Talent Management at OhioHealth, to learn more. Olson explained that the Enneagram allows us to see our lens into the world – how your brain makes sense of what happens in the world around you. It brings light to where your attention is drawn in the world, and where your attention is drawn, your energy will follow. Where your energy flows, your actions will follow. So, it helps us understand why we show up in the world the way we do.

What’s unique about the Enneagram test?

The Enneagram enables us to explore our core motivations and fears – meaning it goes deeper than other personality tests like DiSC and Myers Briggs. Because it examines our inner tapestry (e.g. fears, motivations, etc.), the Enneagram is an invitation to do deep inner work on yourself. As you do the deep inner work, it also helps us develop grace and appreciation for how other people are different from us.

What do the numbers mean?

Enneagram is a term that describes a nine-sided diagram (i.e. “ennea” – 9; “gram” – diagram). In the Enneagram, there are nine core personality types depicted in a diagram.

Diagram depicting the nine core personality types of the Enneagram

Here’s the breakdown of each:

1 The Reformer

Principled, purposeful, self-controlled and a perfectionist.
Basic Desire: To be good, to have integrity, to be balanced.

2 The Helper

Generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing and possessive.
Basic Desire: To feel loved.

3 The Achiever

Adaptable, excelling, driven and image-conscious.
Basic Desire: To feel valuable and worthwhile.

4 The Individualist

Expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed and temperamental.
Basic Desire: To find themselves and their significance (to create an identity).

5 The Investigator

Perceptive, innovative, secretive and isolated.
Basic Desire: To be capable and competent.

6 The Loyalist

Engaging, responsible, anxious and suspicious.
Basic Desire: To have security and support.

7 The Enthusiast

Spontaneous, versatile, optimistic, over-extended and scattered.
Basic Desire: To be satisfied and content—to have their needs fulfilled.

8 The Challenger

Self-confident, strong, decisive, willful and confrontational.
Basic Desire: To protect themselves (to be in control of their own life and destiny).

9 The Peacemaker

Receptive, harmonious, reassuring, complacent and resigned.
Basic Desire: To have inner stability “peace of mind”.

Do any of those resonate with you? Or do you resist any of these? In either case, as you experience the Enneagram, it’s important to remember that no type is better or worse than the other; it just is.

How are the 9 types organized?

Hold on, there’re more. This may seem confusing, but Enneagram is a 3×3 display of the 9 personality types in 3 centers.

Diagram depicting the three centers of the Enneagram

The 2s, 3s, and 4s are in the Heart Center or Feeling Center, where relationships are critical. The 5s, 6s, and 7s are in the Thinking Center, where intellect is critical. The 8s, 9s, and 1s are in the Action Center, where gut instincts are critical. How each of these types expresses their center varies, but each of the three types in each center has common assets and liabilities.

What does it mean to have a wing number?

If you start getting extra comfortable in your knowledge of the Enneagram, you can explore your wing(s). A wing number compliments your dominant number and can express a supporting type that forms your more complete personality. For starters, begin with your base Enneagram type and explore your wing(s) once you fully understand your core type. A wing number is one of the two types adjacent to your dominant number on the circumference of the Enneagram. Meaning, if your dominant type is a 3, you’ll have either a 2 or a 4 wing.

A third way to understand your personality – Instincts

Once you make it through your wings, you can explore your instincts or subtypes. Don’t worry too much about them as you begin the journey but ask an Enneagram expert about instincts/subtypes once you become confident in your Enneagram type and wings. Instincts are very helpful to understand relationship dynamics, especially with those you are closest to at work or at home.

Understanding your personality number

The choice of type is up to you. Once you take an assessment, view it as an invitation to try on the top 2 or 3 types. No one and no assessment can select your type, that is truly up to you. After you’ve tried on a few, select the one that you feel best fits you. The great part about the Enneagram is that it’s an inner look at yourself, and who better knows your inner you than YOU!

Your Enneagram assessment is “an invitation to do deep inner work,” says Olson. “You can explore and learn so much about yourself and others if you accept the invitation.”

You will not fully understand the Enneagram right away, and that’s okay. “It’s a journey and not something you can master in a short period,” says Olson. By studying the Enneagram and exploring your inner tapestry, you will gain a better understanding of the Enneagram, your personality and others.

How do I find my Enneagram number?

There are several online tests that you can access on your own. We know free is appealing to all of us, but we recommend staying away from those tests to ensure you get the most accurate answers.

Here’s the top online test Olson recommends, Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI® version 2.5). This test will cost you $12. It will give you your top 2 or 3 most likely types and you can try each of them on from there.

Using Enneagram in your life

The Enneagram is used by many organizations as a way to better understand how to work with others, but it’s also a great tool to use in your everyday life with your family and friends to understand their needs and wants.

Learning more about Enneagrams

Here are some of the top resources we recommend if you’re just starting your Enneagram journey or are still on the fence about it.



The Enneagram is eye-opening to many, but remember that it’s just an invitation to be curious about yourself and others. It gives you a great starting point to dive deeper into your core self, but the answers come through personal exploration.

We invite you to start your journey in finding your core self. Will you RSVP today?