Values are the guiding principles by which we live or, at least, they are aspirations that help us align our actions with our principles. Without values, we would be living in an immoral or amoral world of interpersonal confusion and existential chaos. At the same time, too strong an adherence to our values can create a counter-effect of personal and interpersonal difficulties. And too strong an identification with these values keeps our type structures in place, thus inhibiting our growth potential.
Enneagram 6s emphasize three important values: loyalty, trustworthiness, and perseverance. They often think or say the following: “Loyalty is my most important value; without loyalty, you can’t count on people.” “I either over trust or under trust or both but being able to trust another person is central to any relationship. “I stick with things, whether it’s a job, a relationship, or more. This is an asset and a liability” Enneagram 6s have a strong antenna for hidden agendas in others, imagine future scenarios in terms of what could go wrong – because they so much want things to go well – and tend to be witty about people and reality as they see it .
These three values – loyalty, trustworthiness, and perseverance – support the Enneagram 6 “ego ideal” of being the “loyal person,” a person who is careful, reliable and committed and never inconsistent or difficult, unless the 6 is more counterphobic. Counterphobic 6s will tend to be more rebellious and even reckless, throwing caution to the wind in search of being adrenalized. The “ego ideal,” according to Enneagram author and teacher Jerry Wagner, is the idealized self that people use as a positive definition of self, a partial answer to the question “Who am I?”
The issue is that while our type-based values are positive ones, we can hold onto these values so tightly and narrowly – after all, our idealized self depends on our firm belief in these principles – that these values can become impediments to our growth.
What is loyalty from the perspective an Enneagram 6? It is a strong feeling of support, something crucial for Enneagram 6s as they seek support and constancy in an ever-changing and unpredictable world. Loyalty helps them feel safe or, at least, safer. Loyalty also connotes commitment to individuals, groups and causes. Loyal people are people you can count on. But an insistence on loyalty comes at a price for 6s. When 6s perceive another person as loyal to them or the team and when 6s maintain their loyalty to another person, team or cause, 6s can be blinded to information that could and should have them back away from their adherence to being loyal. My brother, an Enneagram 6, loyally used an accountant’s services for his taxes for over 30 years. This brother is on a very small, fixed income, which obviously was known to the accountant. One year, my brother said he was stressed because he wasn’t sure he had the funds to pay the accountant, a “wonderful” person who had not raised his rates in 30 years. When I asked how much money was needed and my brother told me, the accountant was charging the same amount my accountant was charging me, even though I make more money and have many more sources of income, hence more complex taxing data. It took 4 more months for my brother to even entertain that the accountant had taken unfair advantage and to even consider changing providers, which he did and cut his cost by 66%. To this day, my brother is still loyal to the old accountant, perceiving him as a really good person.
What is trustworthiness from the perspective an Enneagram 6? Trustworthiness means that the other person can be relied on to be honest, truthful and do what they say they will do. In other words, you keep your promises with no deception. 6s want to be able to count on people and to believe in them, and trustworthiness is a key factor. 6s are looking for complete trust. But overvaluing trust comes at a big price for 6s. Looking for people who are 100% honest, authentic, humble, genuinely confident, courageous and consistent is a tall order. It’s not that these qualities are the problem. It is the 100% that is the issue. What happens with 6s is that they tend to idealize those who they trust, as if these individuals actually are 100% of all these excellent qualities, but then find that few people actually are, primarily because we are human, but also because the 6s may have over-trusted the person or group to begin with. The fall from the 6s’ grace is steep, causing a deep, disturbing and volatile severance of the relationship.
What is perseverance from the perspective an Enneagram 6? It is the continued attention and effort in doing something despite difficulties, opposition, and obstacles, both large and small. It is prolonged tenacity without giving up. While this is a rare quality in most people, in 6s, it is both a virtue and a curse. To stick with something important is noble, but to stick with something that is not that important brings only frustration and questionable outcomes. What else could the 6s have done with his or her time, attention and effort? What is the price paid for unyielding pursuit of a course of action? In other words, it is important to know “when to hold and when to fold.”
Values are the foundation of civil communities. Type-based values are organizing principles for people of each type. However, when our values are held too tightly, they limit our development.
Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of seven Enneagram-business books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs and training tools for business professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications, and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com | [email protected]