Enneagram strengths and weaknesses

Understanding your strengths and weaknesses as an Enneagram type

DJ Wayne Wed May 10 2023

We all know that people have different strengths and weaknesses. We know that identifying them could be the key to personal growth, building relationships, and achieving success. However it gets tricky when trying to determine the various dimensions by which we can see what we are good and bad at. The Enneagram takes an interesting approach in figuring this out.

Understanding Your Energizers and Drainers

Many enneagram authors talk about energizers and drainers. Have you ever noticed how certain activities energize you while others drain you? This can clue us into identifying our strengths and weaknesses. What energizes one person may drain another. Some people love public speaking, while others dread it. Some people thrive in social situations and want the party to never end, while other people have an internal social meter that they are monitoring closely.

Let’s take a look at common energizers and drainers for each Enneagram type then we can extrapolate their strengths and weaknesses and a hypothetical career situation.

Type 1 - The Perfectionist

Energizers: Organizing, planning, completing tasks to a high standard, following rules and procedures. For example creating detailed to-do lists, organizing a cluttered space, achieving a difficult goal, following a strict routine.

Drainers: Dealing with uncertainty, chaos, and ambiguity; receiving criticism or making mistakes. For example being criticized for mistakes, dealing with unexpected changes or disruptions, working with disorganized or inefficient people.

Strengths: Ones have a strong sense of morality and ethics. They are highly organized, responsible, and detail-oriented. They have a strong desire to improve themselves and the world around them.

Weaknesses: Ones can be critical and judgmental, both of themselves and others. They can become perfectionistic and obsessive about details, leading to feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction.

Example career situation: A Type 1 may excel in a job that requires precision, such as accounting or engineering. However, their perfectionism can cause them to become overly critical of themselves and others, leading to strained relationships and burnout.

Type 2 - The Helper

Energizers: Helping others, being appreciated and valued, connecting with people emotionally, feeling needed. For example volunteering at a charity, helping a friend in need, receiving gratitude and appreciation, connecting with others emotionally.

Drainers: Being ignored, feeling unappreciated or taken for granted, neglecting one’s own needs. For example being taken for granted, feeling unappreciated or overlooked, neglecting one’s own needs for the sake of others.

Strengths: Twos are warm, empathetic, and caring individuals. They have a natural talent for connecting with others and helping them in meaningful ways. They are generous and nurturing, and have a deep desire to serve others.

Weaknesses: Twos can become overly dependent on the approval and validation of others. They may struggle with boundaries and become overly involved in other people’s lives, leading to feelings of exhaustion and burnout.

Example career situation: A Type 2 may thrive in a career that involves helping others, such as counseling or social work. However, their desire to be needed may cause them to neglect their own needs, leading to feelings of resentment and burnout.

Type 3 - The Achiever

Energizers: Setting and achieving goals, receiving recognition and praise, being successful, being in the spotlight. For example setting and achieving goals, receiving recognition and praise, presenting in front of an audience, competing and winning.

Drainers: Failure, criticism, lack of progress or achievement, feeling unimportant or insignificant. For example failing to meet expectations or goals, receiving negative feedback or criticism, feeling like a failure or impostor.

Strengths: Threes are ambitious, driven, and highly motivated individuals. They are skilled at setting and achieving goals, and have a natural talent for leadership. They are confident, charismatic, and highly adaptable.

Weaknesses: Threes can become overly focused on external validation and the opinions of others. They may struggle with authenticity, and may struggle with feelings of emptiness and disconnection if they are not achieving their goals.

Example career situation: A Type 3 may excel in a competitive career, such as sales or entrepreneurship. However, their focus on success and achievement can cause them to neglect their personal relationships and well-being, leading to feelings of isolation and burnout.

Type 4 - The Individualist

Energizers: Creative expression, self-discovery, deep and meaningful connections with others, unique and authentic experiences. For example creative expression through art or music, deep and meaningful conversations with others, exploring one’s own emotions and identity.

Drainers: Mundane or routine tasks, feeling misunderstood or unappreciated, rejection, feeling emotionally empty or disconnected. For example engaging in mundane or repetitive tasks, feeling like an outsider or misunderstood, facing rejection or criticism.

Strengths: Fours are creative, imaginative, and highly intuitive individuals. They have a unique perspective on the world and are highly attuned to their emotions. They are highly empathetic and have a natural talent for understanding and connecting with others.

Weaknesses: Fours can become overly focused on their emotions, leading to feelings of melancholy and isolation. They may struggle with a sense of identity, feeling like they do not fit in or belong.

Example career situation: A Type 4 may excel in a career that allows them to express their creativity, such as writing or art. However, their focus on their emotions can cause them to become overly self-absorbed, leading to feelings of loneliness and disconnection from others.

Type 5 - The Investigator

Energizers: Learning new things, exploring ideas and concepts, intellectual challenges, having time to think and reflect. For example researching a new topic or subject, learning a new skill or language, having time alone to think and reflect.

Drainers: Socializing, being forced to engage with emotions, being interrupted or distracted, feeling overwhelmed. For example being forced to socialize or engage with emotions, dealing with overwhelming amounts of information or stimulation.

Strengths: Fives are highly analytical, logical, and objective individuals. They have a natural talent for understanding complex systems and ideas. They are highly independent and value their privacy.

Weaknesses: Fives can become overly withdrawn and isolated, leading to feelings of loneliness and disconnection from others. They may struggle with feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, leading to a sense of paralysis and indecision.

Example career situation: A Type 5 may excel in a career that requires deep thinking and analysis, such as research or academia. However, their desire for privacy and independence can cause them to withdraw from social interactions, leading to a sense of isolation and loneliness.

Type 6 - The Loyalist

Energizers: Feeling safe and secure, being prepared and organized, working towards a common goal with others, building trust and loyalty. For example being part of a loyal and trustworthy group, having a clear plan and structure, working together towards a common goal.

Drainers: Feeling uncertain or unsafe, conflicts or disagreements, making important decisions, unexpected changes or surprises. For example facing uncertainty or unexpected changes, dealing with conflicts or disagreements, feeling unsupported or betrayed.

Strengths: Sixes are highly loyal, committed, and responsible individuals. They have a strong sense of duty and are highly dependable. They are highly attuned to potential threats and are skilled at problem-solving.

Weaknesses: Sixes can become overly anxious and fearful, leading to indecisiveness and a lack of confidence. They may struggle with trust and may become overly dependent on others for support and guidance.

Example career situation: A Type 6 may excel in a career that requires a strong sense of responsibility and commitment, such as law enforcement or military service. However, their tendency towards anxiety and fear can cause them to become overly cautious and hesitant, leading to missed opportunities and indecisiveness.

Type 7 - The Enthusiast

Energizers: New experiences and adventures, exploring possibilities, excitement and stimulation, having fun. For example planning a fun and adventurous trip, exploring new hobbies or interests, attending a party or social event.

Drainers: Routine or repetitive tasks, feeling stuck or restricted, negative emotions or experiences, being forced to confront problems or challenges. For example engaging in routine or boring activities, facing negative emotions or experiences, feeling trapped or restricted.

Strengths: Sevens are highly energetic, optimistic, and adventurous individuals. They have a natural talent for exploring new ideas and experiences. They are highly creative and enjoy sharing their enthusiasm with others.

Weaknesses: Sevens can become overly focused on pleasure and enjoyment, leading to a lack of discipline and focus. They may struggle with commitment and may become easily bored or distracted.

Example career situation: A Type 7 may excel in a career that allows them to explore new ideas and experiences, such as travel or entrepreneurship. However, their tendency towards distraction and lack of focus can cause them to neglect important tasks and responsibilities, leading to a lack of success and achievement.

Type 8 - The Challenger

Energizers: Being in control and taking charge, achieving goals and overcoming obstacles, standing up for oneself and others. For example leading and taking charge of a situation, standing up for oneself or others, achieving a difficult goal through determination.

Drainers: Feeling vulnerable or powerless, being controlled or dominated, being criticized or rejected, being forced to submit or back down. For example feeling powerless or vulnerable, being controlled or dominated by others, facing criticism or rejection.

Strengths: Eights are highly confident, assertive, and powerful individuals. They have a natural talent for leadership and are highly skilled at taking charge of a situation. They are highly protective of their loved ones and are willing to fight for what they believe in.

Weaknesses: Eights can become overly aggressive and confrontational, leading to strained relationships and conflict. They may struggle with vulnerability and may become overly controlling in an attempt to protect themselves and others.

Example career situation: A Type 8 may excel in a career that requires assertiveness and confidence, such as politics or business. However, their tendency towards aggression and control can cause them to become overly dominant and intimidating, leading to conflicts and power struggles.

Type 9 - The Peacemaker

Energizers: Creating harmony and unity, being inclusive and accepting, being part of a supportive and peaceful community, feeling calm and content. For example creating a peaceful and harmonious environment, mediating and resolving conflicts, being part of a supportive and inclusive community.

Drainers: Conflict or confrontation, feeling pressured or rushed, making decisions or taking a stand, feeling disconnected or isolated. For example dealing with confrontation or disagreements, feeling rushed or pressured, facing difficult decisions or changes.

Strengths: Nines are highly peaceful, harmonious, and empathetic individuals. They have a natural talent for mediating conflicts and finding common ground. They value relationships and strive for balance and harmony in their lives.

Weaknesses: Nines can become overly passive and indecisive, leading to a lack of motivation and direction. They may struggle with asserting themselves and may become overly accommodating in an attempt to avoid conflict.

Example career situation: A Type 9 may excel in a career that requires mediation and conflict resolution, such as counseling or diplomacy. However, their tendency towards indecisiveness and lack of assertiveness can cause them to neglect their own needs and desires, leading to feelings of dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

In conclusion, understanding your strengths and weaknesses is crucial for personal growth and success. The Enneagram provides a powerful framework for understanding how our core emotions, fears, and desires shape our personality and ultimately our strengths and weaknesses. By identifying our energizers and drainers and considering our Enneagram type, we can gain valuable insight into our unique strengths and weaknesses.

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