Did you know that any behavior is just a façade for a huge internal interaction happening underneath? Have you asked yourself what really lies below those behaviors we tend to sometimes repeat? Why do we act the way we do?

Some of the answers lie in 2 very simple words: Patterns & Motivators. It is exactly here where the Enneagram can become handy. This famous model called Ennea (9), and Gram (illustration), maps 9 distinct main personality profiles, with their own unique mental patterns, emotional patterns, characteristics, challenges and gifts, as well as a specific path for each of these types towards more awareness and growth.

Written By: Alia Saleh & Maggie Balbaa

Brene Brown, the famous motivational speaker and author says

“The Enneagram…has changed how I understand myself and the people around me. It has brought me closer to myself and my true essence, and it’s brought me closer to God who dwells fully within that essence-alongside my imperfections and vulnerabilities”

The Enneagram’s known roots go back to the beginning of the 1900s, with a young man born in what is now Greek Armenia, then a part of Russia. George Ivanovich Gurdjieff was obsessed with esoteric knowledge and religions from a young age.

To satisfy his thirst, he travelled far and wide from India, to Egypt to Persia, studying the many faiths and rituals, and began to teach a secret discipline for awakening and consciousness, to a carefully chosen group of disciples, which he called “The Fourth Way”. Gurdjieff established the foundation of the Enneagram through the symbol but did not formulate the personality model we know today.

In the late 1940s another man, a psycho-spiritual teacher called Oscar Ichazo, began to lay the foundations for what we know today as the Enneagram of Personality. Together with a group of enthusiasts, he formed Arica School in the late 1960s.

One of his students, Claudio Naranjo, a Chilean psychiatrist, took these teachings and developed them further, comparing and validating them with psychology. His model was passed on to many of today’s Enneagram teachers we know presently.

Today, many psychologists confirm the validity of the Enneagram and its correspondence to Psychoanalysis and see it as a useful tool in therapy. The Enneagram is used commonly for personal development, relationship, career, teaching and corporate therapy and coaching.

There are endless definitions of what the Enneagram is, and as with other disciplines, some of these definitions fall short of the true purpose and wisdom. You do not learn your type to stick to it, you learn your type to develop an inner observer that would help you to have a choice outside of that type autopilot.

So what is the Enneagram of Personality?

The basic idea behind the Enneagram is:

  • There are 9 major personality types. We are all born with a temperament that makes us ready to absorb the persona of one of the types.
  • The types are strategies that are learnt from a young age to cope with the world
  • These strategies, while they served a purpose in early childhood, now become an obstacle in adult life, but they are unconsciously and rigidly held onto
  • Once we find our type, we begin to see these strategies in a more conscious way. We then begin a lifelong journey of work, to become more conscious of our habitual thoughts, feelings and behaviour, and this constant work is the aim of using the Enneagram
  • As we do this necessary work, we begin to clear the path towards a higher spiritual connection, which has always been there but was masked by our unconscious personality

EnneagramOne key element that distinguishes the Enneagram from any other personality typology is its focus on motivation as the factor that distinguishes between people, rather than behaviour. We can all feel the same emotion, do the same thing but the “why” behind it will be completely different.

We all get angry, sad, and anxious and we can all show it (behaviourally). What characterises our personality is the motivation behind this behaviour. A type 6 and a type 8 can both get angry, but according to the Enneagram, they will have different motives, that are a characteristic of their type. It is these motives that deserve focus, and not the behaviour, because deep down into them lies the first step of change, Awareness.

By now, you are probably eager to find your own type. The process of typing is complex one, and it is best to be done by a qualified professional in a ‘typing interview’. However, here is a very basic look at just one of many aspects that distinguish types: Focus of Attention

Type 1 Focus on what is wrong and how to correct it both in the world and in themselves

Type 2 Focus on others and their needs, and how they can help satisfy them for others

Type 3 Focus on goals and achievements, and how to maintain an image of success

Type 4 Focus on what is missing in themselves or in life, which springs from a constant feeling of not being enough

Type 5 Focus on knowledge and how to get it, and how to protect their own energy, which they perceive as scarce, from intrusions

Type 6 Focus on potential future dangers, what could go wrong, and how to secure themselves from them

Type 7 Focus on multiple exciting future possibilities, and planning for fun

Type 8 Focus on injustice and protecting themselves from being betrayed and vulnerable

Type 9 Focus on maintaining harmony and peace with others, and avoiding conflict

A major Regional Enneagram Event, organized by the International Enneagram Association Egypt Affiliate, is happening right here in Cairo, 28th to 30th January 2022. Many of the world’s renowned teachers are present face to face! The conference is a series of parallel experiential sessions.

You get to attend 1 session face to face and take access to the rest of them via their recordings after the event. It is made for ALL LEVELS from beginners to experts! This year there is a discovery track specially designed for people who want to get introduced to the world of the Enneagram of personality. This track has a special discounted ticket and is exactly 5 sessions, for 1 day and a half.

For more information, visit