Conversations that Transform… the 2016 IEA Global Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Takeaways from a First-Time Participant

By Kim Stege, Board member Enneagram Midwest

From the moment I arrived at the Minneapolis Marriott Hotel, I felt welcomed by the friendly, hard-working IEA Conference organizers and Board members.  My first three gatherings were 1) joining U.S. and International chapter representatives, 2) attending the day-long pre-conference event, Knowing Better: Bringing Discernment, Logic and Science to the Path presented by Russ Hudson, Jack Killen, M.D. and Mario Sikora and 3) the keynote address, Non-violent Communication and the Enneagram delivered by Sylvia Haskitz.  If I had gone home after these three events, I would have felt that I had already had a very rich experience.

Friday afternoon marked the start of nearly 30 workshop sessions taking place over the next couple of days.  What a dilemma for a Type Nine—to have to make choices from the many fantastic offerings. There are two talks that I’d like to highlight, although all the sessions I attended were stimulating.

I was very moved by Compelling Conversations with a Panel of Experts in the Enneagram, Addiction and Recovery.  The facilitator was Leslie Hershberger and the panelists were Anne Geary, Michael Naylor and Renee Siegel.  I wanted to learn how I could use the enneagram to support friends and loved ones on this difficult journey of addiction and recovery.

The first important thing we learned was that the journey begins with ourselves.   I found these quotes from my notes: “To be present and open-hearted is healing to the addict.”  We “have to have our own two feet on the ground.”  “It is important to hold our insights to ourselves, fix ourselves first.”  The speaker encouraged us to think about whether WE are feeding the addict’s habit in any way and whether WE are avoiding getting help and support for ourselves as we try to support them.

The second important thing I heard was a reminder of the power of kindness, compassion and love.  “Kindness is a powerful instrument of change.” “Hard things can be said with kindness.” “Pause is the first move and kindness is the second move.”   “There is a danger that we treat addicts as ‘children of a lesser God.’” “Recognize that (they as well as we) ALL need love, a sense of self-worth and respect.”  The panelists also talked about using the pause button, exploring your patterns, the beauty of humor as well as working towards your higher Enneagram qualities.  I came away from the session with gratitude for the insights and sharing put forth by the panelists and facilitator as well as many of those in the audience.

On a different track, Terry Saracino’s session about sub-types,  “Dynamics of Flourishing Relationships: The Role of Instinctual Energies” proved to be fun and thought-provoking for me.  It was the first time I had ever sat down with 10-12 other “social” sub-types like myself and talked about what it is like living with a partner who leads with the “self-preservation” sub-type.  This break-out group time was a moment of “I have found my people.  They understand me!”  Panels, that included several brave couples, allowed us to see how living with the various sub-types plays out.  After the session I realized I felt a deeper appreciation and understanding of the strengths and challenges we all bring to our partnerships.

Takeaways?  I felt welcomed into the global Enneagram circle, made new friends and caught up with past friends, learned a lot about the endless depth and many applications of the Enneagram, and got energized to do my own work and to continue to share the Enneagram with others.  I encourage you to go to the conference in San Antonio next year!

Brief Bio

Kim Stege became a certified teacher through the Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition (ESNT) Program in 2009.  She has taught several enneagram workshops in Madison, Wisconsin where she resides.  She seeks to use the enneagram’s insights to deepen self-understanding and expand humor and compassion among people. Please feel free to send comments to her at [email protected].