Episode 12 – Unlocking Potential with the Enneagram

An interview with Grace Galliot from the Natural Health Clinic and Michelle Johansen from Female Potential on how to unlock potential with the Enneagram

Michelle:                            Today we are going to be looking at how we can use the Enneagram as a tool to unlock more of our potential. As this is something that I do in my work as a coach and trainer, I’ve invited Grace Galliott from the Natural Health Clinic to come in today and interview me. Hello Grace. Thank you ever so much for coming along and interviewing me, I’m even sitting in the interviewee seat today.

Grace Galliott:                  Okay, so what is the Enneagram?

Michelle:                            Okay, so the Enneagram essentially – Ennea means nine, gram is a diagram and it’s a nine pointed figure inside a circle, which shows us the nine personality types that the psyche develops into. The Enneagram is really an ancient system, it’s been around for supposedly thousands of years and was handed down as a verbal tradition. In the second half of the 20th century it moved, like all these things do, into the west coast of America. There it has been developed through modern depth psychology, into the personality system that it is today.

Grace Galliott:                  Cool. So how did you come across it?

Michelle:                            Yes, I think it’s an interesting story. I came across it nearly 20 years ago when I met my now husband, in a pub in Guernsey called the Randy Paddle. (She’s laughing.) We were introduced by a mutual friend. And you know, as most first dates go, we had lovely first evening together and a couple of days later I got my first ever parcel through the post from Amazon.

It was a copy of the Riso-Hudson book “ The Wisdom of the Enneagram” with an invitation from my date to type myself. So it was like, “My goodness, this is the most unusual second date request that I’ve ever had!”

Grace Galliott:                  See if he liked you or not!

Michelle:                            But I always say I entered the relationship on false premises, because I mistyped myself. I just didn’t know myself well enough. We had quite a whirlwind relationship and now I look back, it does seem rather mad, but within six months we had bought a house together and moved in. And I really hadn’t spent much time with the guy at all. It was only then when I started living with this person, I realised he was such a polar opposite to me and it was like, “Oh my God, what have I done?” I remember sitting out in the garden thinking so I got the Enneagram book out again. And

it was then that I realized that my manic workaholic “get everything done” kind of personality was diametrically different to his, “enjoy my life, sleep-in in the morning” type of personality.

Michelle:                            And I got it, in that moment, that mine wasn’t right and his wasn’t wrong. And it really opened up something in terms of our relationship. And I still say today, and I say it to his face, “You know, I don’t think we’d be married without the Enneagram.”

Grace Galliott:                  Yes, definitely. So how do you use the Enneagram in your business?

Michelle:                            In my business … So that was 20 years ago, I was still working in the finance industry. 12 years ago I joined my husband in his business and I work as a coach. What I learned through doing the professional training with the Enneagram Institute back in 2007, was that our ego drivers, (which is what essentially these nine personality types are), start adopting coping strategies quite early on in life. So if we find that achieving is what gets us attention, then we continue achieving, we continue achieving, we continue achieving, and we get very narrow in our outlook.

Michelle:                            So as a coach, if somebody comes to me and says, “You know, I’m doing all this and I’m doing all that and I just need a bit of help to do even more.” The Enneagram helps them to see that if they carry on doing, what actually will happen is they will drive themselves into oblivion. So the Enneagram is a tool that I use to help people to understand who they are and who’s actually driving the car. Because most of the time we’re on autopilot. We don’t stop and think, “Why do I want to achieve?” We just want to achieve. So it’s a methodology for helping people to reflect, “Actually, who am I? Why do I want this and is this actually what I want?”

Grace Galliott:                  Yes, absolutely. It most definitely helped me in the coaching that you’ve done with me, when we got to the Enneagram it certainly helped me figure things out and work out why I behave in certain ways. And once you can acknowledge that it’s a really beautiful thing.

Michelle:                            Oh, it’s good to hear.

Grace Galliott:                  So, where does the Enneagram come from?

Michelle:                            In truth, nobody really knows. I mean, I’ve sat in various halls with different world-leading teachers, all telling a slightly different version of the story. And it depends who it is, but it is roughly 2,000 plus years old. It’s been handed down as a verbal tradition, and yes, it used to belong to religions. Whether that was a the Christian desert fathers or whether that was a Sufi mystery school, I’ve heard different stories, each claiming it as their own. But it was handed down as a verbal tradition and it was never supposed to be used outside of those circles apparently. It was being taught in a particular mystery school in what I think is now Iran.

Michelle:                            Two of the people who studied at the school took it in two different directions, one to South America and one to Europe. The guy that went to South America started writing it down and started working with his own theories, and then he brought it, or rather one of his students did, to the west coast of America. When he got there, he started to teach a group of people. The teachers I’ve worked with, are those direct students. So I have been taught by Riso-Hudson and also Sandra Maitri and A.H. Almaas, who are all world leaders in the Enneagram.

Grace Galliott:                  Cool. So your amazing course that I have done, I can highly recommend it. Can you summarize what’s in it?

Michelle:                            Yes, thank you, if I start with, “Why did I decide to do a course?” Most of my coaching clients, if not all of my clients, whatever they come to me for, we use the Enneagram. It’s a starting point. And I thought, “Right, well I’m repeating the same stuff with my one-to-one coaching clients and actually we could do this collectively as a group, and in much more detail,  because obviously if you’ve come to me because you’ve got fear of public speaking or if you come to me because you want to develop your business or some other reason, we can’t spend that much time doing the Enneagram. So I thought, “Right, well let’s put a course together.”

Michelle:                            So what I’ve done is make the course into five modules over two and a bit hours on each of 5 evenings. In the first module we do an overview of what the Enneagram is. And then for the next three modules, we look at three types per module. So eight, nine and one. Two, three and four. And five, six and seven.

Michelle:                            Because the types break down naturally into three triads. If people already know their type, that’s great. But if they don’t then hopefully they will have really bottomed out what their type is by the end of the course.

And then the final module is the integration module. Because actually finding out what your type is, is the beginning of the journey, not the end. Because then it’s what are you going to do with that information? How are you going to work with it going forward?

Grace Galliott:                  Yes. And I have to say, the course has been absolutely life changing.

When we started looking at it together maybe three years ago, I did a lot of research, all my friends did it and my husband did it too. And it was really transformative in understanding why people behave the way they do and having more compassion and empathy for them. But doing this course has been even more detailed and it’s really lovely to do it with a group of people and hearing people’s experiences. Like hearing a 4 talk and hearing a 6 talk and their experiences, and just … It just makes you so much more understanding and compassionate, which is really what we’re all sort of hoping for really.

Michelle:                            Thank you. Yes. Yes. I’ll pay you later Grace. I mean, I love the Enneagram and I love it because of exactly that. It makes us realize, it’s about, I’m not right and you’re not wrong, but I’m not wrong either. And it’s learning that there’s parts of ourselves that we can like and we can develop and, all that shadow stuff that we try and turn away from is just the human condition. And that we are, this is what human beings are, we’re this kind of paradox of qualities. And every human being’s the same in this regard – a mixture.

Michelle:                            And so what we’re doing in that room is we’re seeing that actually watching other people own bits of themselves, and it just makes us think, “Oh, well we’re all in this together.”

Grace Galliott:                  Yes.

Michelle:                            Because I think so many of us sit on the outside thinking everyone else has got it all together and we’re the only one that’s feeling crap about ourselves. Knowing your own type is really transformative, but understanding who you live with, well … I do say, and put out a warning, “this may save your marriage”.

Grace Galliott:                  Oh, 100%. You know, my husband’s a six and when Isaac was a baby, he wouldn’t let me put the tumble dryer on at night time if he was on a night shift, because he was scared that it would burn the house down and he wouldn’t be there to save us. And I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is so ridiculous. Why are you like this? Why are you so anxious all the time? Why he was worried about something going wrong.” But I’m the opposite of that. I’m a seven and I’m very positive and everything will be fine and don’t worry and everything’s fun. But he’s really my grounding and makes everything safe and secure.

Understanding why he does that, and feels like that, makes me not get as irritated with him. Which is really helpful.

Michelle:                            Absolutely. Absolutely. Going off on a slight tangent here because of some of the other work I’ve done… we are attracted to the people that hold the disowned parts of ourselves. So they say opposites attract. Well they do because that person has that other quality.

When you’re on the happy sunny side of life, you’re actually attracted to that more grounded, security type, you think “Oh that looks really good.” But once you get married to the person, it’s exactly those qualities that drive you potty!

I’m more of a grounded, solid, workaholic type person, so getting into a relationship with somebody who was more adventurous and fun loving was, “Oh that looks so lovely.” The fact that now he’s only in Guernsey half the time, is a fact that I’ve had to learn to live with. But opposites will attract because we do something for each other and the Enneagram allows us to work with that and not get as irritated.

Grace Galliott:                  Okay. So how do you think the course helps to unlock your potential of the Enneagram in general?

Michelle:                            Well, the Enneagram, as you can hear, I’m a little bit of a fan, and for years I have been working with it with my one-to-one clients, but I haven’t actually ever really taken it into the corporate world. Because people take a look at it and go, “This is a bit weird and it’s a bit complicated.” And in truth they’re right. Most corporates are better off with a simpler “four box” model. “You’re a green and I’m a blue” and all the rest of it. Although personally I would say they’ll get a hell of a lot more from doing something like this in more detail. The Enneagram system itself, whilst being fantastic is actually quite complicated. And you can see over there in the corner of my office, I’ve got a huge stack of books that I’ve bought and read over the years.

Michelle:                            And as I was saying, taking it into the corporate world was quite difficult because people thought it was a bit weird, so I haven’t tried for a few years. But then what I’ve suddenly found is that your generation know the Enneagram.

It’s out there on the Internet and suddenly it’s fashionable! But what’s happened with it getting fashionable is that there’s been an explosion of information. There are so many websites, so many books. It’s complicated. So it needs to be simplified.

In order to unlock our potential and be able to use the system, I thought, “Right, if I can take my 20 years of learning, take the bits from the various books, take the things that have really made a difference to me in unlocking my potential, I can bring that to an audience in an understandable way.”

So we do in each of the courses, maybe 20 minutes to 25 minutes on each of the types, and it’s enough to get the flavour of it.

Michelle:                            But in terms of unlocking potential, the whole point of the Enneagram is that each of the nine types, when we are psychologically healthy, are fabulous human beings. And what happens, this is the nature or nurture bit, is that our personality type is determined at conception. Anyone that’s had more than one kid knows that they’re different kids in the womb, and are completely different when they pop out. So we’re pre-destined to have our personality type before birth. The psyche will continue to develop in a certain way after birth so it’s down to how we’re nurtured as a baby, as to how healthy or otherwise we will be psychologically when we get to adulthood. But since there is no such thing as perfect parenting, we both know, we’ve both tried it, our kids will gradually develop these patterns and get more into their patterns. So by the time you get to be an adult, you’re in the average range.

Michelle:                            As we get older, and we do our coping strategies over and over and over again, we will .. what we call in the trade .. go down the levels. So most people are in the average levels going from high average, middle average to low average. By the time we’re at the low average, we’re pretty stuck. And so

the whole point of coaching and doing these courses to unlock the potential, it’s the potential of freeing ourselves up from these repetitive patterns.

My pattern is about being an achievement junkie and if you are an Enneagram 3, the achiever, you just want to achieve, you just want to be successful. But the more you look at it actually, it’s an addiction to striving to be successful. Because as soon as you’ve achieved something, you’ve moved on to the next goal. And I see in my coaching business, so many Enneagram 3s who burn out, and then they’ve got to jump out of their careers, take six months off, or change track because they’ve just burned themselves out trying to achieve. And for what?

Michelle:                            And so it’s around the potential of being able to understand who’s driving the car, and being able to be in choice. Okay, my ego wants to take me down that road, but actually I’m going to stand back here and do something different. And that’s how it unlocks potential … My life is so different to what it was. Before I was just on autopilot all the time, running at full speed. And now if I want to go for a swim at lunchtime, I’ll go for a swim at lunchtime. I can choose whether I want to do something. I’ve got freedom that I never had before. And so it’s about unlocking all of those hidden parts in ourselves that until now have been locked up. Whilst we’re talking about levels of development, there are also the unhealthy levels as well. And

the course isn’t designed for people who have dropped into the unhealthy level, there you need proper therapeutic support. To do the course we need a strong enough ego-identity and sense of self. We need to be strong enough to be able to look at our shadow.

Grace Galliott:                  Yes, because it can be brutal. You’re seeing the real strengths that you have as your type, but you’re also seeing your real weaknesses and when you’re at your worst and when you fall into stress what happens. And you really have to be like, “Oh no.”

Michelle:                            Yes.

Grace Galliott:                  And be okay with that and be able to forgive yourself. And if you haven’t done a little bit of self-development work, it can be and it was really quite painful. But it’s so amazing at the same time.

Michelle:                            Yes. I mean, I always say that you really know you have found your type when you go, “I don’t want to be this type.” Because it looks all right from the outside to be an Enneagram 3, my type, but so many times I’ve thought, “Oh this is the worst type in the world to be.” But from the outside the whole of the corporate world is trying to make people into 3s, make them work harder, because I mean, you can be a performing monkey as a three-

Grace Galliott:                  But you’d enjoy that if you were a 3, you’d be like, “Let’s just go, let’s do this, woohoo.”

Michelle:                            Yes, because you jump into a situation going, “What do I need to be successful around here? Ooh, I need to sell 20 of those widgets. I bet I could sell 25 and be top of the list.” And off you go again, that’s just in the 3s, bless their little cotton socks. We don’t change the world! It’s more likely to be some of the other types that will go, “Hang on, why are we selling widgets?” But a 3 will just jump in there and go, “I just want to be as successful as this environment allows me to be.”

Michelle:                            And so … I know we’re talking a lot about 3s because it’s my type, but my type is the type most disconnected from their hearts. So I didn’t know what I wanted. It’s taken me years and years to be able to stand far enough back and feel into, is this my heart’s desire or not? Do I want to do this? Rather than adapting to somebody who’s sitting opposite me and going, “Oh, I would be revered or seen as successful in their eyes if I did this.” I’ve done it so many times .. gone down that rabbit hole.

Grace Galliott:                  Yes. And you’re going back to sort of how it unlocks your potential. Well, getting into your heart’s desire is really the most important thing we can do, right?

Michelle:                            Yes. Well, I mean certainly it is. A lot of the other types are already in touch with their heart’s desire. They need to get in touch with something else that they cut off from.

So it’s unlocking the potential to claim back all of who we are rather than live from a very narrow perspective.

Grace Galliott:                  So, how does it help you to understand others?

Michelle:                            Well, seeing who you are, seeing what you automatically do in the world. That’s a very, very interesting exercise. And what’s really touched my heart as I’ve watched people in the course is how the people have suddenly seen, “Oh my God, that’s who I’m married to.”

Grace Galliott:                  It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

Michelle:                            Yes.

Grace Galliott:                  Painful.

Michelle:                            We do have boxes of tissues out, because when we see that it does move us, when someone says, “Oh, that’s why he does that. That’s why.” And also understanding your children. Oh my goodness. I went through all the teenage years with my daughter and we had some really sticky moments as I’m sure most mothers do with their teenage kids. When she was 15 I introduced her to the Enneagram, she’s an Enneagram eight and was having anger issues at the time.

Michelle:                            And just by going through the typing cards I’ve got, I’ve never known anyone type themselves so quickly. There’s lots of different word cards in the pack. You do the test by throwing the cards off the table as quick as you can if they’re not like you and keeping the card you identify with. So you’re meant to end up with about 10 to 15 cards. She had picked blind, 8 out of 10 of the Enneagram type 8 cards … it really helped her to know who she was in that moment. And for me to understand who she was. Oh my God, this isn’t just being a teenager … this is what Enneagram eights are! They’re free with their anger. It was such a pivotal moment in the relationship between mother and daughter.

Grace Galliott:                  Amazing.

Michelle:                            And she, although she denies this, if you’re listening, I heard you, you did actually say this to me … it was, “Of all the psychobabble shit you do mother, that’s the bit the works.”

Michelle:                            I think it was said in that tone. She’s grown up a bit since then. But it was very affirming for me to go, “I can now understand who you are and why you do the things you do.” For example, Enneagram 8s tend to use more force than is needed. She always used to break the fridge door. And come home at three o’clock in the morning as teenagers do. I could always know when she was in because the door used to bang loudly, and I always knew if she’d brought a boy home because the door would be opened much more gently. But that’s just how 8s are in the world. They use more force than necessary. So you get to understand that that’s part of the personality. I think it’s gold dust in terms of understanding.

Grace Galliott:                  Yes. Because knowing that and having that awareness you’re going to handle every single situation that you are faced with differently.

Michelle:                            Yes.

Grace Galliott:                  And in a much more loving way.

Michelle:                            Yes. And imagine in a workplace, I had a lot of 6s working for me when I was in my previous career. I was the boss, I was the leader, and as a 3 it’s all about speed. It’s about getting to the end post as fast as possible …

Grace Galliott:                  For a 6 that’s like, “Oooh!”

Michelle:                            Yes, a 6 will be quaking in their boots because they want to do it properly. They want to do it in a way that’s known, they want to do it in a safe way. So it’s about understanding that one isn’t right and the other isn’t wrong and you’ve got to somehow meet in the middle. But I think one of the other things that came out when we were talking in one of the modules was just imagine that we’re all out there acting out from our average levels, because really it’s rare that we meet truly healthy people. It takes a lot of personal development work to get up into the healthy levels.

Grace Galliott:                  So we’re there of course ….-

Michelle:                            Quite, quite, of course! (Joking) We’ve done some of the hard work to get into the healthy range, but we can slip down the levels in the blink of an eye, because we all go for day trips up and down the levels of development.

Grace Galliott:                  Oh yes.

Michelle:                            So we can spend a little time up in the healthy range.

But if you imagine a workplace where everybody’s acting out on autopilot from the cranky levels of their personality type and the potential, if everyone could just lift themselves up, even one level with a bit more understanding, and with a bit more insight that this is the human condition.

Michelle:                            Ah, that’s what drives that person. That’s what drives that person rather than seeing my way as right and everyone else’s way as wrong. I just have this vision of an enlightened workplace where everyone is going, “All right, okay, I get it. I get why you’re upset about that. I get why you really need that information.” Ennea 1s need the details, Ennea 5s need the facts. Ennea 3e’s need efficiency. If we’ve got all nine types and they all own their types and patterns, we’re going to have a shit hot team.

Grace Galliott:                  Yes, yes. That’s amazing. So when’s your next course?

Michelle:                            Ah right. Okay. We’ve just finished the first one and we are going to run the course again in September. I think it’s Monday, September the 23rd we start. It’s going to be 6:00 PM to 8:15 and we are going to hold this one at the Holding Space in St Andrews.

Grace Galliott:                  Oh lovely. It’s a beautiful space.

Michelle:                            It’s a beautiful space.

And I think it’s important to say that whilst we are Female Potential, the course is open to all genders because the Enneagram is gender neutral. Everyone can benefit from coming along.

So, if there are guys that want to join the course they can do. And the cost is, I’ve got a two tier price. One is for when companies are paying for their employees, so that’s £325 and it’s £250 if you’re paying yourself. And we’ve also got an early bird discount of 10% for anyone signing up by the 31st of July and that you get that through just using the coupon code Earlybird. It’s online sign up through Female Potential, you can get there from the website, so you can book and pay for your place. It will be maximum of 10 people. I’ve already got two, maybe three of the places taken. So they’re going on sale from next week. And yes, really we look forward to … I love this.

Grace Galliott:                  You love it. I can really tell that when you teach it, it’s what you teach it so amazingly. It’s not boring, it’s not too much information. It’s just perfect. The way that Michelle has structured it is really lovely.

Michelle:                            Thank you.

Grace Galliott:                  Oh.

Michelle:                            And I really … One of the things that which I invented is the embodiment bit.

Grace Galliott:                  Yes. That’s really cool.

Michelle:                            Because I do something else called Systemic Constellation work, which is all about stepping in and embodying things. And to actually step in and feel what it’s like to be a type at the average level, and then get an idea of what it would be, what the potential is for that type. Because often we only ever see that average cruddy level that people are acting out from. But to be able to see that is their true potential … well for me that just opens my heart.

Grace Galliott:                  Yes. And you’re already connecting with what’s possible and it’s already, by doing that it’s more likely to happen, isn’t it? From what we know about crazy quantum physics.

Michelle:                            Yes, yes. It’s setting that intention that, “Oh wow, that is within possible scope for me as a human being yes.”

Grace Galliott:                  And also feeling the other types, really feeling what it’s like to be that type and how they hold themselves in their body. I mean, I’m pretty sensitive, so I really was able to feel into that and it was really powerful for sure. Yes. Especially feeling my husband’s type like, “Oh, okay, this is what it’s like.”

Michelle:                            Yes. You get to embody somebody else’s world for a little.

Grace Galliott:                  Yes. It’s really cool.

Michelle:                            Yes. So I think in terms of a little brief introduction, I think I’ve probably covered what we need to cover. Now I flip back into interviewer mode, so I’m going to thank Grace ….

Grace Galliott:                  Oh, you’re welcome.

Michelle:                            … for coming along and helping me out today.

Grace Galliott:                  It’s a pleasure.

Michelle:                            Thank you.

Grace Galliott:                  Okay.

Michelle:                            Until next time. Bye bye.

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