Monday, February 10, 2020

What’s Your Character’s Number? What the Enneagram can reveal about your characters’ personalities



silhouette of man illustration
Photo by Ben Sweet on Unsplash

Personality tests are all the rage in social media land, but few tests can be as accurate, revealing, and insightful as the Enneagram. An ancient concept that finds modern uses among psychologists, educators, and hiring managers, the Enneagram is a circle separated into nine interconnected numbers, with each number representing personality traits, inner drives, and strengths and weaknesses.

I thought it would be fun to see where the characters in my novel, The Power Club and its forthcoming sequel, The Secret Club (due to be published on Feb. 20) land on this circle, and below is what I came up with. 

First, a couple of caveats need mentioning.

Not every trait in a personality type will apply to everyone who fits that type. If you are a Seven (“The Enthusiast”), for example, you might find some traits that resemble you and others that don’t.

Also, it can be difficult to pin one’s own number down. I’ve taken several Enneagram tests in the last few months, and depending on their results and on the opinions of people who know me, I’m a One (“The Reformer,” also known as “The Perfectionist”), a Four (“The Individualist”), A Five (“The Investigator”) or a Nine (“The Peacemaker”).

However, in studying the Enneagram, I think I have come to understand myself a little better.

But in terms of revealing where your characters might land on the circle, the Ennegram can be both insightful and surprising, as my results on three of the Power Club characters show.

More information on the Enneagram can be found at the Enneagram Institute, from when come the quotes below. Two helpful books are also listed in the bibliography at the end of this post.

Herewith is how three of the main PC kids stack up:

Damon = Six (The Loyalist)

According to the Enneagram Institute, Sixes are “reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trusting.” They “foresee problems and foster cooperation.” We see this in the first book, as Damon is the one who rallies The Power Club into becoming heroes. They join in when he fights back against the mob that invades the mall, and they (or most of them) later help him foil a robbery. Of all the PC members, Damon is the most committed to becoming a hero and doing something positive with the powers they possess.

But Sixes also have a dark side (in Damon’s case, this is both literal and figurative). They can become “defensive, evasive, and anxious,” and also “reactive, defiant, and rebellious.” We see these traits play out when the District opposes Damon’s plans to turn the PC into heroes. Damon becomes convinced, rightly or wrongly, that the unseen leaders of the District are out to get him, lying about the limits of his darkness power and turning other kids against him.

Sixes “want to have security, to feel supported by others,” and this is why the Power Club is so important to Damon. He doesn’t want to become a solo hero, acting on his own. He wants to be part of a team, working with other powered kids to make a difference. When things don’t work out the way he plans, he can become “competitive and arrogant” (as we’ll see in the second book), but, at his best, Damon is “internally stable and self-reliant, courageously championing [himself] and others”—especially when their survival is at stake.

Denise = Five (The Investigator)

As a precognitive, Denise embodies a Five’s traits of being “visionary . . . ahead of [her] time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way.” But her “Fiveness” goes beyond the nature of her power. She is “able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and independent skills.” In the False Alarm prequel, we saw that young Denise loved science and kept an ant farm. Her interest in science ties in with her key motivation of wanting to possess knowledge and understand the physical environment.

But the downside of her power and personality is that she can become “detached . . . high-strung and intense.” Her desire to control her world leads her to make decisions she later regrets. (We will see one such decision at the end The Power Club and some consequences of it in The Secret Club.) 

Typical of Fives, Denise is afraid of being useless; she knows her power isn’t very useful in battle, and, thus, she struggles with feeling insecure and isolated. At her best, she is “self-confident and decisive” and even the other PC members know when to listen to her.

Kyle = Three (The Achiever)

Kyle, who becomes Damon’s best friend, exudes the traits of a Three: “self-assured, attractive, and charming” as well as “ambitious, competent, and energetic.” As the oldest member of PC, Kyle is probably the best qualified to be its leader, but he’s not threatened when Damon is chosen instead. Rather, Kyle remains “diplomatic and poised,” a role model “who inspires others.”

Still, like other Threes, Kyle is status-conscious, and in his world, status often means doing the things other 15-year-old boys do: hunt, play football, and drive sports cars. In fact, Kyle is obsessed with a Mustang he helps his father rebuild, even though his own natural teleportation power can take him anywhere he wants to go. In his heart, Kyle wants both to fit in and “to be admired, and to impress others.” To him, this means acquiring the status symbols of achievement, such as the driver’s license he is looking forward to on his 16th birthday.

At his best, Kyle becomes “cooperative and committed to others,” assisting Damon in foiling the robbery at great personal cost.

So, what do we learn from all this?

What’s most interesting to me is that the types align not only with each character’s personality but also with his or her powers. A security-conscious Damon, for example, would naturally see his darkspace as an environment in which to feel safe. Kyle, on the other hand, has an inverse relationship between his power and his personality. As a teleporter, he is conceivably one of the most powerful kids in the district, but all he wants to do is fit in.

In the next post, I’ll reveal the numbers of the other PC kids.

Meanwhile, you can use the Enneagram to see what you can learn about your own characters.

Bibliography

The Enneagram Institute. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/

Stabile, Suzanne. (2018). The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships. InterVarsity Press.

Palmer, Helen. (2010). The Enneagram in Love and Work: Understanding Your Intimate & Business Relationships. HarperOne.

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