Welcome to part seven of the Enneagram series! If you are a Type Seven, this post is meant to offer some clarity into your personality and ideas for improving your work life. If you are not a Type Seven, chances are you know one. My hope is that this gives you greater compassion and appreciation for the enthusiasts in your life.
In this series, we will be heavily referencing The Modern Enneagram, which was one of the options for #dropcapbookclub on Instagram. Because the votes were tied, we will be going through Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crushing It in book club, but I will be doing this blog series on the Enneagram for those of you who want to learn more about this wonderful personality tool. You can grab a copy of The Modern Enneagram on Amazon, which will give you additional thoughts and insights into your type and how it plays with others.
We're going to focus on each personality in the context of a work environment. Our lives are incredibly complex, and The Modern Enneagram explores family dynamics, romantic relationships, and personal development, but we won’t be exploring those issues in this series.
In each type's post, you’ll learn:
YOUR CORE MOTIVATION
HOW TO HANDLE STRESS
CREATING THE RIGHT WORK ENVIRONMENT
The Modern Enneagram starts with a story of “Julia” (who is a Type Seven) and I found it extremely helpful in understanding how the Enneagram model might be applied to a real person. So let’s start with our own story of a fictional Type Seven named Susan. Keep in mind that the point of this story is to notice the patterns of motivation, not the specific circumstances or behavior.
“Lydia is a 34-year-old travel agent living in Charleston, South Carolina. She loves spontaneous adventures, going out with her friends, surfing at the beach, and watching stand up comedy.”
We’ll use Lydia as an example of a Type Seven as we dive into the deeper personality and core motivations of this type.
The Sleeping At Last “Seven” song has not yet released. I will link to the song and podcast here as soon as it becomes available.
Motivation - to be content and satisfied
Basic Fear - fear of being deprived
Lydia is the life of the party. Growing up, she was blessed with the opportunity to travel the world and go on exotic vacations with her family. After college, it was difficult for her to embrace the working adult life at first. She felt inhibited by the corporate schedule and missed her seasons of carefree adventure as a student. After a few years of working as an executive assistant, she branched out and started her own travel agency. Using her skills as an assistant and her love of adventure, she has built a career that utilizes her strengths in a meaningful way. Her clients love her vivacious personality, passion for adventure, and positive attitude. She enjoys taking trips to explore new places for her clients, and then coming back to create content to share her adventures, plan for others, and live vicariously through their experiences. Honestly, she couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Lydia's Unfolding Story
Lydia’s adventurous spirit and raw enthusiasm make her a popular travel agent. Her clients love that she’s traveled to exotic vacation destinations and has insider tips for getting the most out of the experience. She’s able to tell exciting stories about her travels and create enthusiasm and anticipation for the families that she works with.
When Lydia gets back from a season of traveling, she’s especially tuned in to her business. She enjoys the freedom she has to travel and enjoys having a captive audience for her adventurous tales.
But in the winter, Lydia hits busy season and needs to spend extra hours in the office planning her client’s summer vacations. She starts to feel limited by her office and craves the exotic experiences that she’s planning for others. Her restlessness and the stress of coordinating logistics start to compile and make her feel trapped by her business. It becomes increasingly difficult for her to maintain focus on her projects, and she begins to impulsively say yes to short road trips and nights out with her friends, none of which help her to meet her deadlines.
If left unchecked, Lydia will begin to neglect her business and clients in favor of immediate stimulation and excitement. Once her need for adventure becomes more of a priority than fulfilling her responsibilities, she’ll begin losing clients and sacrificing her professional reputation. In that case, Lydia will give up the long-term freedom of entrepreneurship for short term excitement.
In states of stress, Sevens take on the characteristics of an unhealthy and competitive Type One. Feeling trapped and limited by their circumstances, scattered Sevens become anxious and critical towards others.
When stress progresses, they become depressed and attempt to numb their anxiety and negative emotions. Acting impulsively, they can appear to self-destruct and have major mood swings.
how to counteract stress for a type seven
1. Notice your impulsive behavior without giving in to it. By resisting shiny new things, you’ll be able to focus on what you really want.
When Lydia starts to notice her winter restlessness, she goes ahead and puts her own summer vacations on the calendar. She puts framed pictures on her desk of the travels she’s been able to do as a result of her business and keeps a file of happy testimonials to help her remember the purpose of her business. This helps her to say no to immediate road trips and nights on the town in favor of the greater adventure around the corner.
2. Learn to fully listen to others, without assuming where the conversation will go.
When Lydia feels the pressure of impending deadlines in the middle of a new client meeting, she stops and remembers that each new client is a brand new experience. She makes it a point to give the relationship the attention it deserves, and fully listen to her client’s dreams before sharing her ideas.
3. Realize that you don’t need to immediately have everything. Opportunities, things, and experiences will still be available tomorrow.
Lydia has started a new habit of putting a “bucket list” in her office for business ideas and vacations she wants to take in the future. Now, instead of impulsively booking tickets and trying out new services, she writes down her ideas and waits for the perfect timing, realizing that all of her dreams will still be there tomorrow.
4. Actively choose quality over quantity. Experiences are better when they have your full attention.
Lydia knows that she is fueled by change and excitement. She also knows that this impulse has the tendency to take her to an unhealthy place. Now, she spends time at the beginning of the year deciding how many large vacations she will take and how many clients she will work with. This helps her give her full attention to the places she wants to go and the people she wants to work with, instead of taking on every opportunity that comes her way.
5. Consider what you want and if it’s something that will be good for you in the long run.
When Lydia is faced with a new client inquiry or a new travel opportunity, she takes 10 minutes to sit down and write out how she feels that experience will serve her and her business in the long run. If it’s not a client she feels particularly drawn to or a destination that will serve her clients, she makes the decision to say no. She’s become much better at aligning with her long term dreams rather than her short term attention.
The most important thing for a Type Seven to experience at work is freedom. As a Type Seven entrepreneur, it is crucial that you maintain a level of freedom in your small business, even when things get stressful. Here are three other ideas for incorporating your Type Seven strengths in your business:
You struggle with finishing tasks, so set up a project management system that positively rewards you for checking things off your list. Asana has a unicorn that jumps across the screen when you have a productive streak. Positive reinforcement will keep you excited as you focus on the project at hand.
Slow down. Set aside a journal or google doc to write down your ideas and impulses throughout your day - consciously saving them for the right timing. Keep an eye on your enthusiasm when making commitments to others. Check to make sure you’ll be able to follow through.
Consider joining a mastermind or hiring a coach who will help you to see the truth in criticism and the opportunity in failure. You tend to avoid negative feelings and experiences instead of allowing them to shape you. Working with a group or coach will help you to form a new relationship to disappointment in your entrepreneurial journey.
When we first met Lydia, she was an enthusiastic travel agent who loved going on adventures and helping her clients do the same. Her spontaneous personality and high energy made her especially talented at planning destination vacations. As a travel agent, she also had the opportunity to go on her own adventures in order to research new locations for her clients (and have some exciting experiences of her own!) However, during busy season, Lydia often found herself feeling restless and trapped as she planned the travel logistics for her clients to go on trips she herself wanted to experience.
By gaining a deeper understanding of herself and how she handles stress, Lydia will be able to gain some perspective when her anxiety rises. Instead of numbing her stress by going out with friends and ditching her responsibilities, Lydia has set up reminders of her upcoming travels and the perks her business provides her. She has learned the difference between short-term and long-term rewards, realizing that she may make immediate sacrifices for ultimate freedom.
Although Lydia will always struggle to maintain focus and attention on her business tasks, she will be able to do more when she learns how to effectively finish projects and sustain her enthusiasm. She enjoys glancing at her bucket list and counting down the days before her upcoming trips, making sure she always has something planned that she can look forward to. She also keeps a bulletin board by her desk filled with photos and postcards from her clients that gives her a sense of fulfillment and happiness.
It turns out that her spontaneity and adventurous spirit are the reason her clients come to her for travel advice. By turning her restlessness into motivation, she builds momentum in her business, which result in more exciting opportunities and freedom in her life.
If you enjoy learning more about the Enneagram and are curious about how to lead with your personality in your business, you may enjoy participating in our Enneagram for Entrepreneurs course. Click the link below to find out more!