Enneagram - Attaboy!

I'm continuing my discussion of how I was introduced to the Enneagram.

As I mentioned in the previous post, when I took a trip around the Enneagram I was immediately able to find my number. The online RHETI test only confirmed my findings. Then when I attended the "Know Your Number" conference I felt like a bug under the burning rays of a magnifying glass as I identified my personality.

If you are familiar with the Enneagram and if you are familiar with me, you might have guessed by now, but I land on the Enneagram as a solid THREE. THREE's are often named "The Performer" or "The Achiever" which comes from their belief that they find their acceptance by what they accomplish. I find it extremely funny that you are reading this in my blog where I publish who I am, what I think and what I've done. That's really funny. Blogs were created for self-promotion.

THREE's are goal-oriented and more importantly goal-accomplishing people. THREE's are great at networking and connecting, especially if it helps them succeed at accomplishing the goals they have made for themselves. My annual goal sheet is ridiculous and I'm often ashamed to show it to other people, but at the same time: I get stuff done.

I've heard it said about THREES that they need endless successes and feedback to reassure themselves against a very honest and realistic insecurity they live with. They are competitive and recognize loss as failure, but even in their loss they will repackage the failure as merely a "learning experience" to ease their conscience. I could go on and on, but let me stop here and say: I don't want to be a THREE, but I can't escape it. Every descriptor of a THREE as an achiever, performer, chameleon, flirt, manipulator, social engineer, hit me right between the eyes. Even though I hate it,  I cannot escape it.

Maybe you don't like your number either. In an effort to encourage you on your own journey, I am going to share some interesting insights I've learned about myself. Remember, I'm a THREE, I promise I'll only share the positive things! I'll begin today with what I learned about fears and how they function in my life and then over the next few days I'll share what I learned about goals and feelings.


The quote included in this photo of my dad is something I have heard over the course of my adult life. I might have even mentioned it about eight years ago here on theMangoTimes. Yes, I know that this funny little quip is always said in jest, but the idea behind this quote is fairly accurate in the life of a THREE. Success matters, winning matters, but more importantly: Recognition Matters. Whether I like it or not and if I'm being honest, recognition for what I accomplish is half of the fuel behind my actions. 

The other half of my fuel comes from the fear I associate with failure. So, not only do I want to accomplish things, but I am equally driven by a fear of being seen as a failure. Here's the truth: I don't fail regularly, but I do fail.  To be clear, when I fail it stings like it does for everyone else, but worse for me is being seen as a failure. I don't want you to see me fail. It is like two sides of a wicked coin constantly spinning in the air. 

Do you see now how the "Attaboy" quote hits home for a THREE on the Enneagram? The only problem is that the ratio communicated in this quote is not quite accurate enough for my taste. For me it is more like this: "One "Aw Shit" wipes out 20 "Attaboys!"

Let me share a concrete example of this: I've had a recurring nightmare for the past 25 years. Every week or so, I wake up in the same cold sweat. I'm sure some of you are familiar with the dream. It's always the same. In my dream, I am one week from college graduation or final exams and I realize that I forgot to show up to one of my classes all semester. In my dream, I immediately remember the class. I remember signing up for the class and I even remember going to the class for the first week of lectures. But then somehow, I stopped showing up all semester but I also forgot to drop the class. So, on top of all my responsibilities, I now have to prepare for a final exam. The nightmare involves this class being required for graduation. As if that's not enough, it's also always a higher math or science that I cannot bullshit my way through. I always wake up not knowing the outcome.

I was listening to Jeff Goins being interviewed on the Typology podcast. Jeff also identifies as a THREE and guess what we share? That's right. We both have the same nightmare. It's a nightmare based on the fear of failure. It's always about letting someone down and typically it points to a primary caretaker.

We all live in fear. The Enneagram helped me focus and recognize the stem of my fear and how to face it head on. Over the next few days I'll share what the Enneagram has taught me about goals and emotions.

Quietly making noise,


Enneagram - Know Your Number


In my first post in this series, I mentioned that I attended a conference on the Enneagram called: "Know Your Number." It was hosted at a local church and there were a few hundred people attending.

As we gathered in the auditorium, the conference speaker simply walked us around the Enneagram one number at a time. She began with Ones and began to describe what and how a One sees the world.

Since my wife identifies as a One, I paid close attention to everything the conference speaker was saying about Ones. I didn't know it at the time, but I was being provided really good insight into my wife and how she thinks. The Enneagram can get eerie at times and this was one of those times. There were several times I glanced over at my wife and found her nodding along. It was more than accurate. It was like she held up a mirror and allowed her to see herself.

The same thing happened when the speaker began talking about Threes. I'll share specifics in the next post, but I felt like she had access to a hidden camera in my life. The speaker was describing a Three, but she might have well just inserted my name in the discussion. Accurate, freaky and at times depressing.

The conference was powerful. We both left with new insights into our own lives and the lives of many friends who find themselves around the Enneagram. We also left with new ideas helping us to progress in healthy ways.

Identifying Yourself
I mention that both my wife and I quickly identified with a point on the Enneagram. For us it was very straight forward, but for some others we know it has not been that easy.  There are a variety of tools to help you figure out how you see the world, so don't be surprised if it takes you a little more work on your part.

Each of us took a test online to help us figure out where we landed on the Enneagram, but I realize now that I really did not need a test to help me identify with my number. With just a little bit of guidance, I would have easily identified myself as a Three on the Enneagram. So, when people ask me if they should take an online test, I mention that it's just a tool that might help, but ultimately it might be easier to just read the descriptors associated with the Enneagram.

If you are looking for a test, I recommend taking the RHETI on the Enneagram Institute website. It is informative and helps you process your results.

If you are looking for a primer on The Enneagram, I recommend reading the book, The Road Back To You, by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile. The authors have an accompanying website and podcast that have been very helpful to me. Following the release of this book, co-author Ian Cron started a second very informative website and podcast called Typology.

Aside from the RHETI test I mentioned, the Enneagram Institute has a very helpful website that explains each of the nine types and how they relate to one another. You can spend some time poking around that site and learn a lot about the Enneagram.

Lastly, if you really desire to go down the path of understanding yourself and how you relate to the world and others, you could attend an Enneagram conference like we did. You can poke around Life in the Trinity Ministry for events near you. I found that having an informed coach  lead us through the Enneagram really opened my eyes to blind spots in my life as well as giving me great compassion for others who are working through their own number.

All this to say, there are plenty of free resources available to you if you are interested in doing a little digging and research. Let me know what you find out along the way.

Quietly making noise,


A Month of English

I realize this post won't apply to most of my readers, but I would encourage you to read along and add to your general life knowledge. For those who linked here from my pipe and tobacco message boards, I wanted to share a little experiment I did last month.

I've been smoking a pipe since the mid 1980's (with a large break in the early 2000's as I worked out an answer for my children who would ask why I smoke a pipe). My palate was never really refined and I often missed what other pipesmokers picked up and would describe in a bowl of tobacco. Based on some good advice from the boys over at The Country Squire Podcast (HT: to JD/Beau) and in order to improve my palate and really train myself to taste the differences in tobacco, I committed to smoking just English tobacco for an entire month. 

For those non-pipesmokers, the difference between straight tobacco vs. English tobacco is like the difference you would taste between blended whiskey and a single malt Islay whiskey. English tobaccos have a distinct smokey flavor and smell. For the rest of you who can't relate to tobacco or whiskey, it's like the difference between boiled chicken and deep hickory smoked BBQ chicken.


My experiment was simple: I chose to smoke (mostly) only tinned tobaccos. I opened and jarred the following tobaccos allowing them to breathe before smoking: Dunhill MM965, The Apertif, EMP, Night Cap as well as C&D Mississippi Mud and G.L. Pease Maltese Falcon. I did add one bulk blend of McClelland 5110 that I purchased from a local brick and mortar under the shop blend name of Sherwood Forest. 

I committed to smoking these tobaccos in the morning, afternoon, and evening. I enjoyed them in a variety of settings. From lunting in nature to sauntering in my local neighborhood to quiet reflection with scripture, good books, jazz and scotch whiskey to delightful reflection of the day with good friends, my wife and my dogs, I worked hard to savor these blends.

The results were magical. Midway through the month, I began to recognize and distinguish what I appreciate in a good English tobacco. I began to develop a taste for the different components and recognize the nuances that many have spoken about in tobacco reviews and comments about favorite blends and favorite blenders. 

I had two disturbing setbacks. First, I fell in love with McClellands 5110. The stoved virginia tobacco makes this delicious and adds to an addicting room note (I'd walk back into the garage after smoking this blend and immediately want more). The disturbing part is that due to many circumstances in the world of pipe tobacco, McClelland Tobacco has shut down production of all tobacco in April 2018. How depressing it is to fall in love with something you really love when you can no longer get it. The second disturbing part is that my wife hates the smell of English tobacco in the air and in my beard (I don't think I need to explain the ultimate result of this setback).

On Easter 2018 (April 1), I loaded up a bowl of Dunhill Three Year Matured Virginia to begin my month of Virginia/VaPers and WOW could I smell and taste the overwhelming sweetness that I had been missing during my prior habit of jumping around English, aromatic, and straight virginia blends. 

If you are struggling to appreciate the intricacies of pipe tobacco (scotch whiskeys, hickory smoked chicken), I recommend trying this experiment and letting me know how it works for you.

Keep your pipes lit my friends!

Quietly making noise,

Enneagram - An Overview

In my previous post, I shared about my discovery of the Enneagram. Just to review, the Enneagram is a tool that helps you unlock and understand yourself better. Ian Cron, co-author of the book "The Road Back To You," says this: "By challenging us to bravely explore who we really are, the Enneagram helps us recognize and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior and to become our most authentic selves."


Fransican priest, Richard Rohr, explains the Enneagram like this: "The Enneagram is not just a personality typing system. Yes, there are tests and quizzes that help you identify your primary Enneagram type, but that is often just the first step. This tool is meant to help you over a life-long journey." He goes on to explain, "While self-discovery is important, it is not the Enneagram’s final objective. The Enneagram’s purpose is to help us uncover the traps that keep us from living fully and freely as our True Self so that we will use our unique, authentic gifts for the good of others and the world."

Heavy stuff, huh?

It would seem that way, especially when you consider that the first time you ever see the Enneagram it looks quite simple. It's really just a circle with numbers and arrows. Some people think it looks mystical, ancient or even demonic, because it looks like a pentagram. In fact, the Enneagram is quite literally a 9-sided polygon (enneagram).  As you dive into the meaning of the numbers and arrows you discover that the Enneagram accomplishes what Cron and Rohr describe by introducing the student to nine human archetypes or as I like to think: nine different ways that we interact with the world around us.

But, it's much more than just nine numbers. Each point on the Enneagram is associated with a personality type. The number has a corresponding title which describes the role that number type plays out in life. (i.e. looking at the graphic above, it's easy to see that a Type 1 on the Enneagram is titled "The Perfectionist or The Reformer"). Depending on the source of your study, you can also discover that each number on the Enneagram also contains a basic fear, a basic desire, a virtue and a vice. Do I have your interest piqued yet? Wait, there is even more...

Each number on the Enneagram is also related to the numbers on each side. Those are called wings. (For example, looking again at our graphic. The Perfectionist/Type 1 either has a 9-wing or a 2-wing). I'll get into this eventually, but for now it's important to know that very few people are dead center. The truth is we probably lean from our number to one of our two neighboring wings.

If that isn't enough, each number has two more corresponding points. On the graphic above, this is depicted as arrows pointing to and from the type you identify with. These arrows indicate where you go in stress and security. If we keep with the example of The Perfectionist/Type 1, you will see an arrow that comes from Type 7 and an arrow pointing to Type 4. What this means is that when a Type 1/Perfectionist is stressed, they begin behaving like an unhealthy Type 4 and when a Type 1/Perfectionist is seeing secure growth, they will begin to behave like a healthy Type 7.

Lastly, the Enneagram types are split into three triads. Types 2, 3 and 4 live in the Feeling/Heart Triad. Types 5, 6, and 7 live in the Thinking/Head Triad. Types 8, 9 and 1 live in the Reacting/Gut Triad.

This is way more than some of you need to know as an introduction, but my point is that the Enneagram is way more than just a number. Finally, the more you study these connections, the more you will understand how the Enneagram does not tell you what you ARE, but what you ARE NOT. It describes the masks you use to interact with the world. It exposes your phoniness and the ways you bury who you really are. It is a tool on your path to self-discovery.

In the next post I want to share how a simple one-day conference not only convinced me of the power of self-discovery, but how it started to undo me personally. Any guesses as to what number/type I am? Let me know in the comments below.

Quietly making noise,

The Enneagram

"Hey Fletch. Do you and Kendra want to go to an Enneagram conference this weekend?"

Little did I know what this simple request would create in my life. For several months, our adult children had been taking their own journey around the Enneagram with their church and school communities. Kendra and I each arrived at the this "tool of spiritual folklore" that helps  you discover human archetypes and character structure. All of this led to us agreeing to attend a day-long conference that focused on 'Knowing Your Number' and learning how the Enneagram helps you relate to yourself, to others and to God.

For me, it began a helpful, insightful (and sometimes painful) path of self-discovery that comes through studying the Enneagram, which has been described as an ancient body of wisdom that identifies nine core personality types and describes how each sees and interacts with the world. 

We spent a good portion of our Saturday being led through each of the 9 types by a trained Enneagram guide. Life changing? More than you know. It's been over a month and I continue to be blown away by the uncanny accuracy of this simple tool. I've been challenged to bravely consider and explore who I really am and the personality (or mask) I choose to wear.

When we were in college most of our closest friends took the Myers-Briggs test. For those of my readers familiar with that test, you will understand what I mean when I say that for the past 30 years we've used those 4 letters to help us explain who we are and how we relate to others. If you are wondering, I test as an ENTP (Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving). On the silly Star Wars chart, I relate mostly to R2-D2. Truthfully, the MBTI was a great tool over the years, but nothing too deep. It was just a label to share with others and more than anything it helped us recognize that Kendra is an introvert and I am an extrovert, but it really ended there for us.

The first step toward finding God, Who is Truth, is to discover the truth about myself: and if I have been in error, this first step to truth is the discovery of my error.
— Thomas Merton

Over the years, I've also taken a variety of other personality indicators, but NOTHING has been more accurate or helpful as my recent study of the Enneagram to actually help me recognize and overcome unhealthy patterns of behavior or to work on becoming a more authentic version of myself.

I've always been intrigued by the psychology of decision making and why people choose behaviors that are either addictive and destructive. As I've dug into my study of the Enneagram, I've been told: The Enneagram will find you. That's the case with me. I feel like I've been given a window into my past and a better explanation for why I make the decisions in life that both harm and help me. The MTBI, DISC assessment, and Strength Finders did not offer this uncanny insight. So, what is it?

Initially, the Enneagram can become a bit addictive, especially when you begin to uncover aspects of your life you've chosen to ignore and realize where you park stuff in the shadows that you don’t want to face in real life.


Slowly, I've begun to discover the repetitive patterns in my life that I have used to respond to stress. To put it into familiar terminology, I am on the first steps of self-discovery. If you know anything about me, you will know that I don't want to get too deep. Let's keep everything up here on the surface people! No one gets hurt if you dig too deep. Right? If you don't know that about me, that's because I would never tell you! Ha Ha!

My favorite thing about the Enneagram is that it doesn't just reveal the messy corners of life, but it reveals that you have both a beautiful side and a dark shadow side to your personality. The strength of your personality can also be loaded with coping mechanisms. The Enneagram also provides suggestions on how to move to the healthy side of your personality.

Thankfully, there are several new resources available to students like me who want to learn more. From podcasts, to books, to websites, to newly written songs, it is easy to dive in and begin the process of self-discovery.

The Enneagram is a tool that awakens our compassion for people just as they are, not the people we wish they would become so our lives would become easier.
— Ian Cron, The Road Back To You

In the next few weeks, I plan on writing through what I've learned and how I think the Enneagram can help us live more clearly in light of the gospel. I plan on writing openly and transparently about what I've learned about myself and how every point in life has led me to this point. I also hope to share how the Enneagram has revealed to me why we should provide heaps of grace to others who process and deal with the world differently. Good stuff coming! I promise!

Lastly, there are many Christians who read my blog who don't have any idea what I'm talking about, but they've googled what the Enneagram is and have turned me off because they think the Enneagram looks mystical (or like a demonic pentagram). Because it dives into the psychology of the human mind, others have written it off because it goes "outside of scripture" to provide help. That's okay! I don't fault you. I would have done the same, but as God continues to reveal to me who I am through His word, the Enneagram serves as one of the tools that helps pry open some of the parts I've hammered closed. Hang in there with me, maybe you'll find some help you didn't know that you needed.

Quietly making noise,