“Have you ever thought about how strange it is that the only person we are with every moment of every day can still mystify us? We cannot escape from ourselves and yet our actions and thoughts can still confuse us. Why did I say that? What made me respond like that? Why does that same issue keep coming back around? When our actions and responses remain unexplored, we cannot hope to grow and change.”
Stepping Up In Leadership: Reflections from the journey by Jo Koepke
There is something so common about the struggle to figure out who you are. It’s a normal developmental process that we expect in children and teenagers. Personal experience and hearing stories from others tells me that it rarely stops there. We don’t suddenly have it all figured out when we hit adulthood. Some wrestle with this more than others but no one is immune.
Over the past few years, my attitude towards exploring who I am and the tools available to me has shifted. I used to think that personality assessments were a waste of time or at least too generic to be of much use. I thought spending time analysing myself was being too self-absorbed. Surely if I just tried hard enough, I could shift the behaviours I didn’t like without needing to understand what was driving them! I discovered that these thoughts limited my ability to grow and become the kind of mother, wife and friend that I wanted to be.
I have realised that figuring out who I am, what drives my behaviour and the strengths and challenges I bring into relationships is not selfish at all. It is actually a brilliant way to work on being the healthiest version of myself. When I operate from a healthy place, I am able to focus on myself less and on others more. Understanding myself helps me recognise when I am leaning towards the unhealthy behaviours that I default to in times of stress. It allows me to celebrate my strengths and let go of trying to act like someone else, someone I was never created to be. It helps me to connect with others more fully.
There are many pathways to figuring out who you are and how you operate. There are many tools available to help the process, too. Personally, I find the Enneagram to be the most useful right now. I first heard about it on some of my favourite podcasts and began exploring it. I discovered an ancient system of personality classification using a system of nine numbers, with interactions between them. It does the best job, I have found, of presenting the complexities of human motivations, desires and behaviour, with reference to how these change in times of stress and times of health. This tool has regained popularity in many circles over the past few years, with several books, podcasts and coaches emerging (some resources linked below).
Honestly? Exploring the Enneagram and how I might fit within the number classifications has not been an easy process. It has taken deep reflection and some research. Mostly, it has taken vulnerability and getting deeply honest with myself. Discovering the teaching around my number has been like shining a light into the deep recesses of my heart that I didn’t even want to admit to myself were there. It held up a mirror to the stark reality of default drivers and behaviours that I subconsciously worked so hard to hide. I needed to see myself clearly before I could make changes and be the best version of myself (which is a continuous journey).
If I simply left it there, I could think of what I learned as an excuse, to justify why I do what I do. “I’m simply wired that way!” This is not the intention of the Enneagram though. It is a tool to work towards health and a tool to work towards understanding others to bring compassion and unity into relationships. Can you imagine a world like that? We can be part of creating that world within our families and communities!
Are you ready to dive in and learn more for yourself? Are you ready to step into the light and see yourself clearly?
You might find some of these resources helpful. You can find some assessments around but very few are found to be accurate (especially the free ones!) Most experts seem to agree that it needs to be a process of learning about each type and discovering yourself within them.
The Road Back To You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
The Path Between Us by Suzanne Stabile
The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher L. Heuertz
“Enneasummer” series on That Sounds Fun podcast by Annie F. Downs
The Road Back To You podcast
Sleeping At Last podcast AND a song written specifically for each of the nine types
MOPS Field Manager
Jo Koepke spends her days sharing words of encouragement for women in leadership, finding her way through the beautiful mess of parenting and relationships, and geeking out on technology. She is one of the managers for MOPS Australia, a support teacher at Alta-1 College, and a writer and speaker, with her book “Stepping Up In Leadership” due out in August. Find more inspiritment at jokoepke.com.