How Physicians Can Use the Enneagram as a tool for Personal and Professional Development
Editor’s Note: Dr. Francis Yoo was my guest for podcast episode 36, where he talked about how physicians need to find their “authentic self.” One thing we talked about was using certain tools like the enneagram to help you learn more about your personality and communication style. I’m grateful for his submission to the blog today where he breaks down the 9 enneagram types and helps physicians learn more about their own type.
People can be the source of much awe. We are capable of everything from manifesting an altruistic, uplifting love to causing pain and strife to ourselves, each other, and the world. We are capable of living in personal and professional relevance, fulfillment, and abundance. However, for some reason it seems like we instead choose to live in dissociation, scarcity, and a fog.
The Enneagram is a model that describes not only the greatness of people and the depravity of people caused by chasing egotistical desires but also helps guide them on the journey to discover, recover, and better themselves. Increasingly, it is being used by coaches for personal and professional development and consultants for organizational team dynamics.
What is the Enneagram?
Simply put, the nine main personality patterns described by Enneagram result from an imbalance of the different aspects of a person. This imbalance leads to a core motivation that contributes to patterns of emotions, thoughts, and behaviors surrounding a particular concern. We all have all nine of these motivations and concerns, but one of these nine motivations is the dominant concern that is used to identify one’s Enneagram Type.
Let’s do a brief tour of the nine Enneagram Types and explore how a physician of each type may behave and even be known for. It is important to note that it is very likely you may relate to more than one of the following descriptions. The purpose here is to give you a picture of each type and how they show up in physicians. However, you should not use such brief descriptions to identify your or others’ types.
Enneagram Type 1
The Type One physician is concerned with goodness, perfection, and integrity. They may believe that it is their responsibility to point out the flaws in their workplace, the medical profession, their patients, their own work, and pretty much everyone and everything else around them, but most especially themselves.
- “Can’t you do better than this?”
- “Why can’t any of the specialty colleagues do things right?!”
- “That wasn’t good enough; I’m going to do it over again to get it right.”
They may constantly point out mistakes and be critical of both others and of themselves. On the other hand, a healthy and growing Type One physician will increasingly exemplify integrity and appreciate the inherent goodness in themselves and others, even in the presence of flaws.
Enneagram Type 2
The Type Two physician is concerned with attending to others’ needs. They are the ones always available to serve and care for their patients, coworkers, bosses, family, friends, and even strangers.
- “Oh, it was not a problem at all! I’ll be there for you anytime.”
- “There’s no need to thank me. It was absolutely my pleasure. Really.”
- “Go home. I’ll take care of it.”
However, this can happen at the expense of their own need. As a result, they may unknowingly harbor the desire to get the very attention they are giving others. On the other hand, a healthy and growing Type Two physician will increasingly exemplify generosity while still being able to relate to others in a mutually beneficial way.
Enneagram Type 3
The Type Three physician is concerned with their image. They are the ones who aim for a higher income, more expensive belongings, keep expanding their workload, and seek to have their name on titles and awards.
- “Check out my new car!”
- “Did you know I was promoted to CMO in just 5 years? I’m aiming for CEO in a few more.”
- “Make sure you read every single one of my publication contributions when you introduce me.”
They may believe they will find their value by continuing to complete achievement after achievement and try even harder when they are not satisfied. Conversely, a healthy and growing Type Three physician will be driven towards absolutely grand goals and objectives while keeping in mind that they have worth and value that are not measured by their accomplishments.
Enneagram Type 4
The Type Four physician is concerned with their individual significance and importance. They are the ones constantly expressing their victimhood, talking about how they are not appreciated by patients, coworkers, and even friends and family. In addition, they seem to revel in all of this.
- “Woe is me.”
- “Yeah, my job is terrible, and no one cares about me, but that’s who I am, and I’m going to be me.”
They create atmospheres or moods that highlight and validate their special situation and identity. Yet, a healthy and growing Type Four physician makes use of their emotions and feelings to exemplify authenticity and creativity because they have a firm sense of their true significance.
Enneagram Type 5
The Type Five physician is concerned with the ability to persevere and be in the world. They are the physicians who are always worried about being drained but also seeking more knowledge by getting more training, reading more, and attending more CME courses than required to feel more proficient in their work.
- “I’m not ready.”
- “I can’t go out today” (because they feel drained of energy and will be further drained by doing more).
- “Oh, I bought a book about how to do that recently” (but did not end up doing what the book taught them).
They may withdraw from work and professional scenarios and situations that seem draining to them. However, a healthy and growing Type Five physician can easily get into a flow or zone of innovative application of their knowledge and resources.
Enneagram Type 6
The Type Six physician is concerned with trust and groundedness. They are the physicians overly concerned about the values and actions of their hospital or practice and make it a point to join or leave medical organizations based on if they know they can trust them and belong to that group.
- “My specialty colleague has been suspicious lately; I don’t know if I can trust them.”
- “I’ll do what the group decides.”
- “Are you sure? I’m not sure. Are you?”
Their thoughts and trust can waver quickly and often, or, at the other extreme, barely budge at all. They can end up overly depending on others or even be antiauthoritarian simply for the sake of it. Alternatively, a healthy and growing Type Six physician brings togetherness to a group and fosters an atmosphere of stability of trust for themselves and others.
Enneagram Type 7
The Type Seven physician is concerned with finding happiness by looking for something new. They are the physicians who can enjoy locum tenens work forever or who revel in hopping from one career to another (and sometimes back).
- “I know I’ve only been here for six months, but I don’t think this is for me. See ya!”
- “I really enjoyed my week long hiking vacation, so I am considering becoming a wilderness medicine specialist.”
- “Let’s try doing it in a new way. Maybe it will work better!”
They may be easily distracted and not able to settle into one place or project for long. In contrast, a healthy and growing Type Seven physician brings robust spontaneity and excitement to the workplace and beyond while having a sense of stillness about them.
Enneagram Type 8
The Type Eight physician is concerned with demonstrating their power. They are the physicians who are known to flaunt their position to the point of being abrasive and bossy.
- “Just do what I say.”
- “Do you have a problem with me? Tough luck.”
- “Oh yeah? Come say that to my face.”
They can be combative, abrasive, and quick to remind others about their authority. On the other end of the spectrum, a healthy and growing Type Eight physician can show their power and authority by being vulnerable, and others naturally follow their lead as they move forward.
Enneagram Type 9
The Enneagram Type Nine physician is concerned with having peace and connection. They are the physicians who mediate in arguments between their fellow colleagues at work or ignore blatant problems in their practice or hospital by sweeping them under the rug.
- “This is fine.”
- “I try not to think about that.”
- “Let’s not talk about that.”
They may deny real problems by escaping into daydream scenarios. Healthy and growing Type Nines express harmony and peace even in the face of problems and conflicts and are a harbinger of resolutions.
One, some, or all of the Type descriptions may have hit a nerve with you as you read about them. This is good. In fact, I wrote the descriptions specifically to bring out issues that may be brewing or stewing in physicians’ inner lives. This is an opportunity to observe and be aware of your own discomfort and cognitive dissonance. You can then use this to identity and do inner work.
Doing inner work is the process of putting in the effort to attend to your own distorted thoughts, emotional reactions, and habituated patterns of behavior, among other things, with the intention of surpassing your status quo to grow and develop as a physician and a person.
The Enneagram model offers a perspective within which to practice self-observation to increase self-knowledge. Such self-awareness and willingness to face oneself is the key to not only personal wellness, growth, and development but also to developing a meaningful and impactful career as a physician and repair and improve relationships.
The modern Enneagram model is a system with roots in much older concepts and perspectives that has been and will continue to gain traction in the non-medical world. It is being used by individuals seeking wellness and development and by businesses and other institutions to grow their organizations. If used well with the correct guidance, it can be a great tool that can be utilized for physician wellness, growing emotional intelligence, developing healthcare team dynamics, and even patient care.
And, most importantly, learning its concepts can help one be reminded of the ever-present relevance, fulfillment, and abundance in our lives.
- Podcast Episode 36 – Physician, Know Thyself!! Find Your “Authentic Self” and Have the Career You Deserve – Dr. Francis Yoo
- Physician Leadership Lessons from a Super Bowl Champion
- 5 Easy Steps to Living Your Authentic Physician Life
Meet Dr. Francis Yoo
Connect with Dr. Francis Yoo
Website: www.drfrancisyoo.com (being worked on right now)
Email: email@example.com (my “public” email)
Please leave a comment below! Do you know what your enneagram type is? What do you find most valuable about knowing your enneagram type? What do you wish you knew more about with regard to the enneagram model?
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