Starting your Enneagram Journey?

One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to determine their type is this…

…they think that the Enneagram is based on BEHAVIOR, when it’s not.

If you choose a behavior, you’ll soon see that every enneagram point can display that behavior, BUT and this is a big but… the REASON for the behavior is different!

But more about this critical point about the Enneagram personality system later.

enneagram for beginners learn about

Here is a 6 STEP guide to begin your journey of self-discovery by learning the Enneagram.

With this Enneagram for Beginners guide, you’ll be able to start the process of discovering your own Enneagram type by learning about all 9 types.

I want you to avoid some of the biggest mistyping mistakes and progress to advanced levels of Enneagram knowledge as quickly as possible.

Sound good?

And, if you fall in love with the Enneagram, as many of us have, this might be the beginning of your path to becoming a professional Enneagram Coach!

Here’s what’s covered in this Enneagram for beginners page:

  1. Why learn the Enneagram?
  2. First discover your own Enneagram type.
  3. Avoid common mistyping mistakes.
  4. Learn about the Enneagram growth path.
  5. Discover the Enneagram types of your loved ones.
  6. Become an Enneagram Coach.

1. Why learn the Enneagram?

I’ve heard many different reasons from students of the Enneagram about why they are interested in studying this fascinating and helpful personality system.

Here are some of the reasons that I’ve heard—which can you relate to?

  • To understand themselves better.
  • To understand their loved ones and work colleagues better.
  • To improve their relationships.
  • To be better parents.
  • To be more effective leaders.
  • To find direction in life.
  • To transform their inner obstacles like fear, procrastination, low self-esteem, anger etc.
  • To be more conscious of their strengths so that they can put them to use.
  • To be free of painful personality patterns.
  • To not have their buttons pushed by others.
  • To be free of limiting beliefs.
  • To be free of the suffering that the personality can cause.
  • To help the personality to grow to its highest enlightened expression.
  • To help others to grow to their highest enlightened expression.

What people don’t often realize is that the Enneagram can help us to improve in unexpected areas of our life, even our health, wealth and happiness.

When you discover your own blind spots, your own inner obstacles and use the knowledge of the Enneagram to transform those obstacles—you’re free to improve your health, wealth and happiness.

I call these the 3 wishes.

2. Discover your own Enneagram type.

Start your Enneagram journey by discovering your own Enneagram type. This is the natural way to begin.
You might be skeptical about the Enneagram.

That’s not a bad thing.

I don’t want you to believe in the Enneagram—there’s nothing to believe—it’s not a belief system.

The Enneagram is something that we discover because it’s already real.

So I invite you to discover your own Enneagram type.

And with the knowledge of all the 9 types, you can then decide whether the Enneagram has any merit or not.

I highly recommend our free Enneagram online video course – discover your Enneagram in 90 minutes.

These free videos—which are available to you after you sign up for the free course—will give you a foundation understanding of the Enneagram.

This’s enough to start your journey.

I also recommend reading through this website.

It’s full of helpful resources.

If you want more in-depth training or help with learning the Enneagram, then consider enrolling for one of our popular online Enneagram scourses.

3. Enneagram mistakes that beginners and even advanced Enneagram Coaches make all the time!

Please remember not to make the two biggest mistakes that people make when trying to work out their own Enneagram type.

#1 The first mistake is to rely on online tests.
Which only have on average a 50 to 60% accuracy in my professional opinion.

I suggest instead, that you learn about the Enneagram from a reliable source—there are many wonderful authors and teachings in the world.

#2 The second big mistake. Which you are likely to hear me mention many times.

Is to think that the Enneagram is formed around behavior.

The Enneagram is not formed around our behaviors, our actions or what we do!

The Enneagram is formed around the reason for our behaviors. It’s why we do what we do, that matters.

The Enneagram is not about behavior

This is why discovering the Enneagram can be so life-changing.

The reasons for our behaviors, why we do what we do, is usually hidden—unconscious.

By making this conscious, we gain powerful insight.
And most importantly, we can start to accelerate our personal growth.

If you know why you do what you do, you have potentially life-changing understanding about yourself. If you know why others do what they do, you can guide, motivate and inspire others to grow.

If you make the mistake of thinking that each of the 9 types is shaped around 9 patterns of behaviors, you’ll get confused about the Enneagram.

And you’ll mistype yourself and others.

Why? Because many of the 9 types share similar behaviors.

  • For example type 3, type 5 and type 1 all can display behaviors around striving for competency—trying to do something really well.

But, the reasons that each type has for striving to do something really well is completely different.

In fact, each of these 3 example Enneagram types is probably unaware of the reasons for their behaviors.

Type 3 5 1

3’s might try to do things well to feed an emotional need for self-worth. When a 3 on the Enneagram is at its lowest expression, this can lead to even cutting corners for the sake of winning.

A higher functioning 3, would not cut corners and has less of an emotional need to prove their worth. They add attention to detail and quality to their efforts.

Enneagram type 3

5’s might try to do things well to ease their anxiety and fear of not being competent. When a 5 on the Enneagram is at its lowest expression, this can lead to over thinking, over studying and over analyzing instead of jumping into the water of life to participate in doing.

A higher functioning 5 can more easily move from the research phase to the action phase.

Enneagram type 5

1’s might try to do things well because of the gut based aversion to doing anything that seems below average, anything less than perfect.

When a 1 on the Enneagram is at its lowest expression, this can lead to pedantic rigid perfectionism.

A higher functioning 1 relaxes, learns to color outside of the lines and be more creative with their doing.

Enneagram type 1

Can you see how each of the 3 types could all look like they have the same behavior?

  • They might all strive to do things at high levels of excellence, but the reasons would be very different.
  • Their motivating reasons are significantly different.

With the Enneagram knowledge, these 3 types might come to realize why they do what they do. Knowing this can be truly liberating.

Why do you do what you do?

Learn the Enneagram, discover your type, and gain a powerful understanding about your personality.

To discover your Enneagram type I recommend the following steps.

STEP 1: Learn about the 3 Personality Pearls.

  • The InnerLifeSkills red, blue and green pearls teachings with their respective grains of sand.
  • Make a note of which of the pearls resonate strongly with you.
  • But remember that it takes more understanding to finally determine your type.

Use this as a helpful clue.

STEP 2: Learn about the 9 Primary Polarities for each of the 9 types.

Each of the 9 types, especially in its lower and medium levels of health, struggles with an inner obstacle. This inner obstacle is a polarity.

  • Two qualities that are opposed to each other.
  • An inner war, inner conflict that the type needs to learn to transform in order to reach an enlightened expression.

By learning about the primary polarity, and adding this to the 3 Personality Pearls you gain an insightful understanding about how each of the Enneagram points arises. In fact, you’ll be able to anticipate and work out how each type expresses itself, because of understanding the 3 Personality Pearls and the 9 Primary Polarity types.

The way this is taught, is unique to InnerLifeSkills, and I hope that it makes a wonderful contribution to the world of the Enneagram.

STEP 3: Now study the 9 Types
Only with your understanding of the 3 Personality Pearls, and the 9 Primary Polarities, do I then suggest you look at each individual Enneagram type.

By doing this, you should avoid the trap of forgetting that the Enneagram is not about behavior, which leads to many confusing mistyping’s.

I give my Enneagram coaches helpful, easy to use worksheets, that they use for themselves and their clients, to go through the 3 Personality Pearls, and the 9 Primary Polarities and then finally after they have narrowed down the search between two and three types, they look at the worksheet for each of the types.

This usually takes 60 to 90 minutes, and has a high degree of accuracy, because the client gains the knowledge necessary to determine their own type. Instead of relying on software that cannot easily pick up on the subtle reasons for why we do what we do.

Enneagram worksheets innerlifeskills

Avoid common mistyping mistakes.

I’ve seen so many people make typing mistakes. Some have believed they were a different type for years, before they understood the Enneagram well enough to realize that they were mistaken.

I think it might be, because people get caught up in the complexity of the Enneagram. If you understand the Enneagram well, it’s actually not that complicated.

Don’t focus on behavior

Remember as I mentioned above, not to make the mistake of focusing on behaviors in order to type the Enneagram. This is why, for InnerLifeSkills, I created the 3 Pearl Method.

Just like a grain of sand that is coated with mother of pearl by an oyster, we all have a grain of sand in us that is coated by layers of personality. The beautiful pearl, the beautiful personality is the result of an underlying, hidden reason for behaviour.

We need to dig deeper than the surface to truly understand the simplicity of the Enneagram.

3 pearls

I’ll share with you now, something that I teach all of my Enneagram Coach students, to help them when they are unsure about their Enneagram type. Especially when they have narrowed down the search to two or three types.

Look for common ground between the two or three types that you might be, what’s in common between them all?
Now look for what is significantly different. Especially looking for the grain of sand in the personality pearl – the reason for behavior.

4. Learn about the Enneagram growth path.

The wonderful thing about the Enneagram, is that it doesn’t just diagnose or type us. It also provides a clear map for growth.

When our Enneagram is expressing at a low level, we tend to show some of the worst behaviour of one other type. We also seem to be blocked, unable to access the best in ourselves.

Here is a quick outline of how each type is given the growth path map.

Have a look at the Enneagram diagram here, and notice the arrows.

Each arrow shows us which 2 other Enneagram types our type is connected to. Think of this like an electrical circuit board.

  • When our type is young in its growth (which has nothing to do with physical age), we tend to access one type in an unhealthy way, and feel blocked to access the second type in a healthy way.
  • We tend to take on the worst characteristics of the decay path, instead of the best characteristics of the growth path.
  • When our type is mature in its growth, we can access both paths, the best of the two types we are connected to. This isn’t a rule, there are exceptions, but as a beginner I find it is helpful to stick to the broad strokes first.
enneagram for beginners learn about


Low expression growth map –
1’s are challenged by expressing some of the worst characteristics of type 4, which includes emotional dramatization, making mountains out of mole hills, hysterical anger, negativity and complaining.

1’s find it difficult but need to access some of the best characteristics of type 7. This includes being more playful, relaxing laying down the burdens of hyper responsibility, letting their inner child be nourished, laughing and having fun. All of which are difficult for a lower functioning type 1.

High expression growth map –
At their higher expression 1’s are easily able to access the best of 4 and 7.


Low expression growth map –
2’s can express some of the worst characteristics of type 8. This includes anger, bossiness, controlling, aggression, wanting to be in charge of all decisions, cutting harsh and direct words and vengeful behaviour.

2’s find it difficult but need to access some of the best characteristics of type 4. This includes emotional honesty, sensitivity, picking up subtle nuances in their own heart, paying attention to their own needs, talents and uniqueness.

High expression growth map –
At the highest 2’s express some of the best characteristics of both type 8 and type 4.


Low expression growth map –
3’s can express some of the worst characteristics of 9. These include, avoidance, depression without a goal, procrastination, trying to avoid conflict, not taking a stand, feeling stuck and heavy.

3’s find it very challenging but need to grow to the point that they can access some of the best characteristics of type 3. This includes humility, being open and willing to ask for and receive feedback, humbling oneself to learning, focusing on quality and substance, delivering impeccable service.

High expression growth map –
At the highest expression 3’s can access the best of both type 9 and type 6.


Low expression growth map –
4’s can access some of the worst characteristics of type 2 which includes: an emotional need to be helpful, being smothering, using flattery, controlling with kindness and being codependent in dysfunctional relationships.

Although challenging, type 4 must grow until they can access some of the best characteristics of type 1. These characteristics include being functional, organized, self disciplined, being able to see the facts and be objective, being structured and following the rules and moral codes of life.

High expression growth map –
At the highest expression 4 can access the best of type 2 and type 1.


Low expression growth map –
5’s can access some of the worst characteristics of type 7 for example: scattered busy thinking, escaping into fantasy and imagination, living in the mind rather than the world, running from anxiety and ignoring the heart and body.

For type 5 to grow to its highest expression it must overcome the challenge of accessing the best characteristics of type 8. These characteristics include assertiveness, confidence, directness, embracing and enjoying one’s physical senses, accessing instincts and intuition, engaging fully in the world.

High expression growth map –
At the highest expression 5’s can access the best of type 7 and 8.


Low expression growth map –
6’s can disintegrate displaying some of the worst qualities of type 3 for example: chameleon-like adapting to their environments and the groups they are with, being fake, showing people what they think others want to see, excessive competitiveness, striving to win at everything and creating masks.

For type 6 to express at its highest, it has to overcome the difficulties of accessing the best characteristics of type 9 which includes: slowing down, being present in the moment, being in touch with the physical body and its senses, resting, accessing intuition and a deep sense of knowing, being happy just to be.

High expression growth map –
At the highest expression 6’s can access the best of type 3 and 9.


Low expression growth map –
7’s can decay to the worst qualities of type 1 on the Enneagram. This includes becoming hypercritical, angry, depressed, seeing things in extreme black and white, wrong or right instead of grey, becoming very harsh on themselves.

Although it’s a challenge, to grow type 7 need to access the best of type 5. This includes being able to be still and silent, focusing the mind to be able to remain on one topic or point of focus, developing concentration, being content in the present moment.

High expression growth map –
At the highest expression 7’s can access the best of type 1 and 5.


Low expression growth map –
8’s can disintegrate to access the worst qualities of type 5 on the Enneagram. This includes becoming isolated from the world, over analyzing and overthinking things, not accessing the heart, being afraid to step into the world and fully engage.

The challenge of the 8 is to grow to be able to access the best of type 2, which includes: compassion, loving kindness, benevolence, focusing on others needs, being sensitive to others’ emotions, feeling with the heart.

High expression growth map –
At the highest expression 8 can access the best of type 2 and 5.


Low expression growth map –
9’s can access the worst characteristics of type 6 when at their lowest expression. This could include anxiety, procrastination, over analysing, over complicating things with thought, lack of assertion, lack of confidence, naivety and being paralyzed by fear.

The growth of type 9 is to overcome the challenge of accessing the best characteristics of type 3. These include taking action, being decisive, finding solutions, creating personal goals and aspirations, knowing what they want, connecting to people, speaking their mind and asserting their opinions.

High expression growth map –
At the highest expression 9’s can access the best of type 6 and 3.

One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and others is to use the Enneagram as a map for growth.

5. Discover the Enneagram types of your loved ones.

Once you worked out your own type, it’s natural and recommended to determine the types of the people in your life. We learn the Enneagram best from examples of each type, as they exist in the real world in our lives.

So enjoy understanding your loved ones, learning the language of their deepest needs, and finding out how to connect with them, by learning their types.

Remember that the Enneagram is not an excuse for bad behavior, that’s why it offers us a map, to challenge ourselves and inspire others to grow to our highest expression.

6. Become an Enneagram Coach.

I tell my students that the Enneagram is contagious — but in a good way ?

If you catch the bug ? and see the life-changing potential of this knowledge then you might want to study it at an advanced level so that you can help others to discover their Enneagram types.

Then consider joining our InnerLifeSkills online Enneagram Coach course. Which has been awarded international accreditation by the ICF International Coach Federation, and counts as credits towards a professional InnerLifeSkills Master Coach qualification.

Download our free Enneagram Coach E-book here. 


Summary of Enneagram for Beginners.

In summary, find your own personal reason to invest some time into learning the Enneagram.

Then discover your own Enneagram type by learning about the 3 Personality Pearls, as taught by InnerLifeSkills, and then learn about the 9 Primary Polarities.

With this easy to use foundation your find learning about the 9 types much more natural and will avoid some of the most common mistyping mistakes. Then I recommend learning about the Enneagram’s growth path and working to help your Enneagram type to express at its highest in a natural, authentic way.

At this point you should know enough to begin typing your loved ones.

If the Enneagram serves you, as it has so many others, you may be inspired to offer this gift to others, either informally within your life or as a professional Enneagram Coach.