Do we change the type in the Enneagram, or do we just grow more self-awareness and understand that we mistakenly saw ourselves in the wrong type? This article is about how I though that Enneagram Type 5 was where I belonged in the Enneagram, but the Don Riso Challenge changed my mind.
What is the Don Riso Challenge?
It took me five years to know my true type, while I was teaching the Enneagram and how to find your type.
I thought I was an Enneagram type 5 and I even explained to students at the time how 5’ish I was! That was going on for years until one of my teachers, Don Richard Riso gave me what I call the “Don Riso Challenge”.
I was studying at the Barn (headquarters for The Enneagram Institute) in New York, USA, and rented a cabin to stay on the Barn and close to my teacher. We spent a great amount of time together as we also were planning for the activities of The Enneagram Institute of Denmark, which I founded some years before.
One day Don asked me for a meeting, but as we were having meetings all the time, this felt like an important meeting. Like he wanted me to really listen and understand something of utmost importance.
He explained to me, that it was necessary for me to get my type correctly, and he suggested that Enneagram Type 5 was not really where I belonged in the Enneagram.
So he gave me the “Don Riso Challenge” which is living for a month as each of the nine types. Thinking, feeling, acting, communicating, learning, relating etc. as an Enneagram type. He wanted me to start with Enneagram Type 1 and then move anti-clockwise into Type 9, Type 8, Type 7, and so on. He also asked me to study the Holy Ideas for each of the types, and I should not tell anyone or even write (a book) about it. He directed me not to look at the Instincts.
Deep personal work
Don Riso´s challenge to me meant I had to look deep and put it into practice new way of working with the Enneagram types and the Enneagram as a system or a map.
✔ I was installing the SuperEgo instructions.
✔ I was having the assumptions that the types were having.
✔ I was working with the aversions of the types.
✔ I was celebrating the fixation of the type.
✔ I was trying to understand the Holy Ideas, and finding a way to surrender to them (this was the most difficult part of the challenge).
And it was both playful, but also it was like discovering all the nine qualities of not the types, but point as a good gift and each also was talking about.
It was more like qualities or mindsets or abilities. And it was more like re-discovering all the qualities in me, instead of just looking at one type.
From Enneagram Type 5 to Enneagram Type 3
The instructions about not exploring the Instincts were maybe a trick because of course I had to read more about the Instincts. And it was the combination of type and Instinct that made me realize that Enneagram Type 5 was not the correct choice.
The motives did not fit.
I am a self-preservation Enneagram Type 3, and I could see that the energy and some of the assumptions of Type 5 could look like the self-pres Type 3. Also, I understood that I was using the strategies of Type 5 to support my motives for Type 3. Being the smartest and most clever teacher, studying hard, and specializing in certain topics would be Type 5 strategies supporting that I wanted to become the most recognized teacher of the Enneagram.
I did not mean that I changed the type in the Enneagram!
I just became more clear about my real motives. And the whole thing about becoming real about one’s motives is what also Enneagram Type 3 is all about. So the challenge gave me so many layers of understanding about myself, the structure of types, and the Enneagram.
This challenge by Don Riso helps me a lot the way that I teach today.
If somebody asked me a question about a type, it’s like I could go and connect with something that was awakened in me at the time. It is like when I teach about a type, I just need to reconnect with that type as part of myself.
It was very insightful and an amazingly powerful exercise to do.
Now it is your turn!
Let me challenge you to do the same, and even if you know your type in the Enneagram, it is a very good exercise.
You might discover more about how the types in you can serve you and if some types are difficult for you to encompass.
You can hear me talk a little about Don Riso´s challenge on the podcast “The Practical Enneagram”.