the decisive clarity that is ennea-five

A colleague and I were chatting over lunch last week… somehow we’d gotten onto Life With Babies (blessedly in the past for both of us). Probably because an earlier topic had brought up feces, and she was refreshed at how blasé I was: “You can always tell a parent; they don’t get grossed out anymore.”

Anyway, she was narrating her struggles in and around the birth of her first. Not physically, but within herself, discovering what she required to be hale (“Old English, northern variant of hāl ‘whole’.“). She mentioned how her spouse, who at the time had a restaurant at his fingertips, put her on the schedule three days a week for one of their low-skill jobs, and how this was a sanity-saving gift.

I nodded. “It was a wise move. It’s probably the only way you’d’ve accepted the adult-only time. Because you could tell yourself they needed you, and that he needed you to do the work.”

She stared. “You’re probably right!?! How did you know?!!”

Um, because I default to an Enneagram Five?


I’ve been “writing” this post for a while. I tossed the title and link into my draft-box at the end of July. Sleeping At Last‘s “Five” had come out, it’s a longish drive from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, and musing about the podcast warmed my brain up nicely for a week of deep-diving.

Chris Huertz, offering tutorials alongside Ryan O’Neal’s deep songcraft, at one point comments that the gift of the Five is decisive clarity. It’s in the middle of his describing Fives as a Head-type (those who try to control their world by thinking about it), as a withdrawing-stance alongside Fours and Nines, and the Five holy idea or essence as transparency, “just seeing through and beyond what is.”

My colleague is far from the first to notice my Five-vision. I myself started noticing my skill at asking interesting questions when I was in my twenties, working in IT. Part of my project management talent drew from looking through the long arc, to see where the risks or wobbles might show up. But the funny part, to me, isn’t the clarity. It’s the evident bluntness with which I perennially seem to share what I see. I don’t know why that I see what I see is startling, but it certainly seems to be!

As I muse on things Enneagram more, I find myself coming back to “transparency.” Sure, the part where I work to see through whatever or whomever I’m engaging with to their particularness renders them transparent to me. And at the same time I don’t want to lose track of the mirror-transparence: when I’m hale I, too, am transparent. No hidden agendas, no traps, no pit-falls.

Quick, crystal insight can work in many directions if I’ll let it.

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