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 8s emphasize three important values: boldness, challenge, and justice. They often think or say the following: “Be big or go home.” “If you have something big you need done, give it to me.” “The world must be just and fair; I need to make sure this happens.” Enneagram 8s protect the innocent, and at the same time, they intensely dislike weakness in others. No challenge is really too big for them, but a task too small is not of interest to them.
These three values – boldness, challenge, and justice – support the Enneagram 8 “ego ideal” of being the “powerful person,” a person who is big enough to save the city, can protect others who need their support, and who has an instinct for truth-telling. 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 boldness from the perspective an Enneagram 8? It means being big at almost all times, being ready for the next large effort or initiative that might feel daunting to most others, and never showing your weakness or vulnerability. It also means staying “powered up” most of the time or being ready to do so at a moment’s notice. While being this big and bold can feel powerful and full of embodied energy, this way of being is quite demanding of the person who believes they must do it. Where is the downtime or rest? Who do they go to for support when they need it? Who is big and bold enough to be there for them?
What is challenge and what is a challenge from the perspective of an Enneagram 8? In general terms, a challenge is a call or the impetus to take part in competition, but particularly a duel. A challenge is also to call into question the truth or veracity or something, and to do so in a strong, forward moving way. It can also be to move toward something in the context of moving against or being oppositional to a person, an event or an idea. It is to confront something and be provocative. All of these definitions apply to the 8’s perspective on challenge. The issue is that 8s engage in challenges as a fuel for their life force and vitality. As such, 8s engage in challenges so frequently – monthly, weekly, daily and even hourly – that almost everything feels like a challenge that both energizes them and can also exhaust them. And is everything really a challenge and at what cost. There can be a cost to the 8 in terms of being internally peaceful and accepting what is, but also in terms of relaxing mentally, emotionally and somatically. There can also be a relational cost for 8s. Many 8s wonder why others can feel intimidated by them, an issue when this may not be what 8s want, especially from people with whom they would like to have a closer relationship.
What is justice from the perspective an Enneagram 8? Justice in general is a value most people share. Why? Because justice means fairness, impartiality, lack of prejudice and open-mindedness. And the pursuit of justice is fundamental to Enneagram 8s. However, in the world of the 8, they not only perceive injustice readily, they also move toward action quickly to remedy an unjust situation. When 8s do this, their forward movement may be reactive and stronger than the situation calls for. Metaphorically, a nail requires a hammer but a thumbtack usually only needs a push from a finger. In addition, 8s sense injustice in what feels to them to be a truthful way emanating from their gut instinct indicating what is just and what is not. However, our guts can be selective, even the gut instincts of the 8. In addition, the 8s perspective on justice is that the scale of injustice must be remedied and 8s often believe it is their job to provide the remedy. This can leave them quite alone, at times, as others can perceive the 8s behavior as being based on insufficient information or as being more subjective than objective.
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]