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  • Writer's pictureKaren Caswell

Know Your Authentic Self

Earlier this year I read Lead with FAITH by Sarah Johnson (who is also a co-author of Balance Like a PIRATE). I was hooked from the start! The book is set out in sections around the FAITH acronym, of which F stands for 'being free to lead as your authentic self'. In all areas of our life, we need to be our authentic selves. If you've read any of my blog posts, you will know that I have spent quite some time reflecting on and defining what that means for me. Not only does Sarah vulnerably share her leadership journey and discovering her authentic self, but she suggests tools to help you engage in self-reflection. One of these tools to help develop self-awareness is The Enneagram, which helps identify your basic personality type out of nine distinct types. Everyone emerges from childhood with one of the nine types dominating their personality, with inborn temperament and other pre-natal factors being the main determinants of our type. It is common to find a little of yourself in all nine of the types, although one of them should stand out as being closest to yourself, and this is your basic personality type.

These one-word descriptors can be expanded into four-word sets of traits. Keep in mind that these are merely highlights and do not represent the full spectrum of each type.

  • Type One is principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionistic.

  • Type Two is generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing, and possessive.

  • Type Three is adaptable, excelling, driven, and image-conscious.

  • Type Four is expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental.

  • Type Five is perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated.

  • Type Six is engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious.

  • Type Seven is spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive, and scattered.

  • Type Eight is self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational.

  • Type Nine is receptive, reassuring, complacent, and resigned.

It needs to be noted, that this is not a test that you quickly complete, then simply come away with a label. If you take the time to dig a little deeper and looking at the other elements of the assessment, you will start to develop in-depth insight into what motivates and drives your behaviour. But be warned, whilst uncovering and identifying detailed facets of your character can be informative and maybe even affirming, it can also be unnerving, painful and even cause you to feel shame. What's important to focus on, is the awareness this can bring to understanding your thoughts, feelings and actions, and how this can help you live and lead with your strengths, and lean into your weaknesses and grow from them.

After completing the test, I came out as a Type Six: The Loyalist, with Type Nine: The Peacemaker only two points behind. A brief overview of Type Six:

Generally, Sixes are reliable, hard-working, organizing, vigilant, dutiful, evaluating, persevering, cautious, anxious, believing and doubting, conservative and liberal.

Sixes get into conflicts by being pessimistic, defensive, evasive, negative, worrying, doubtful, negativistic, reactive, suspicious, and blaming.

At their best, Sixes are courageous, cooperative, disciplined, grounded, secure, faithful, self-expressive, funny, and affectionate.

As you can see, there are some positives, but also some negatives in there. Just quietly, I'm relieved to see funny there - it's the only light-hearted trait amongst a whole lot of seriousness. I mean, while many traits listed are all very admirable qualities, it's not likely I'll ever be known as the life of the party! I can't really say I'm surprised by these results, and again, if you've read any of my blog posts you probably aren't either. I do want to spend more time delving further into the detailed report I received upon completing the test, which covers how these traits impact not only my personality, but relationships, healthy and unhealthy levels of development, dynamics when in certain situations, and personal growth recommendations.

If you are interested in learning more about The Enneagram, the Enneagram Institute website is a good place to start. I also highly recommend Lead with FAITH: Building a Strong Foundation so You Can Rise Up, Slay Fear, and Serve Well to help you to build a solid foundation to lead through life's challenges. Whilst Sarah is open about her strong religious faith, the FAITH acronym doesn't rely solely on religious beliefs, but rather being open and willing to the guidance offered within.

Free - being free to lead as your most authentic self

Affirmed - leading affirmed in purpose

Intentional - leading with intention to influence and inspire others

Transformation- transcending titles and embracing transformation

Heart - leading wholeheartedly, focusing on emotional intelligence and empathy

It is a framework guiding your work.


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