Intro to Enneagram | Understanding yourself and leading others | From zombie to waking up

Elena Chen
2 min readMay 24, 2022

I had an aha moment with my coach lately when she walked me through my Enneagram result. It was the first time that I was able to explain my own behaviors and decisions with extreme clarity.

For those of you who don’t know what Enneagram is, it is an ancient yet constantly evolving personality system that maps out the vast majority of personality types of human beings.

According to Enneagram, I am a Type 3 (Achiever). I grew up in a typical Asian family and my parents had high expectations about what I should achieve. Whenever I met their expectations, I received praise and was treated nicely by adults and kids around me. Whenever I didn’t, I received critique and was asked to do better next time.

As I became better and better at meeting expectations, I created a strong association between achievements and who I am. The more achievements I had, the better of a kid I am.

What I didn’t understand was why I also became more and more afraid of failures. Why was I always stressed out by uncertainty? Why did I feel a strong guilt if I was not being productive? And why did I immediately turn into a workaholic to deal with negative emotions?

The answer is simple. I am afraid of losing the status of a smart, capable and useful achiever as a Type 3.

The beauty of Enneagram is that besides mapping you to a personality system, it also shows you a growth map. For me, my growth path is to learn that love comes from being as well as from doing. By removing the pressure of getting results, I can come closer to my true feelings. I can become a more empathetic, mission-driven leader as compared to someone who constantly feels anxious and therefore has to beat herself up to achieve.

This is my story with Enneagram. If you are interested in learning more about this ancient personality system, check out my video with Suzanne Taylor, who is my coach and also teaches Enneagram at Stanford Continuing Studies.