Fostering vs. Fighting My Tendencies

For the first day of the Smith College alumnae conference I presented at last week, I attended a workshop on changing career tracks. A majority of this workshop focused on the Enneagram Personality Types. I recently became acquainted with this system of categorizing people and spending a whole day exploring the facets of my motivating drive was invaluable to helping shape my future goals. 



Stephanie Ross, of Stephanie Ross Coaching, led the workshop and she told an interesting parable to help understand how our worldview is very much influenced by personal perspective. 


A woman and a man move into a new neighborhood and every morning, as they eat breakfast, they see the neighbor's laundry line. 

"That person really doesn't know how to clean their clothes," the woman says, "there are dirty spots all over them!" 

Morning after morning, she comments on the neighbor's poor washing ability until one morning, the clothes are magically clean. 

"I wonder who taught our neighbor how to do the laundry?" the woman commented. 

"This morning I washed our window," her husband replied.


Understanding how we tend to see the world helps us realize that each of us has a unique perspective and not everyone sees the same way we do. For me, learning more about how I tend to behave lets me build more consciousness around patterns I want to foster and those I want to alter. For example, after the day of delving into the nine Enneagram types, I figure I'm mostly a Type 7 and Type 3. 


This is the description of a Type 7: I am an optimistic, enthusiastic, spontaneous person who enjoys thinking of new and interesting things to do. My mind is very active and moves quickly between different ideas. I have a harder time sticking to repetitive and unrewarding tasks. I like to be in on the beginning of a project when there are many fascinating options to consider. If something gets me down, I prefer to shift my attention. offers tools to help you find your own type and understand how to develop skills to work in a positive direction. 


I'm about to delve into the next phase of my career and to be perfectly honest, I don't know what that is. There are a couple possible routes I can take, but I'm trying to conscientious of creating a life that I want. This is the time to envision and seek out what will serve me. Knowing how I tend to behave helps inform what types of jobs I might be interested in pursuing so that I'm using my best skill sets and not fighting them. For example, since I get excited about the ideas phase of projects, I should seek out something where that's a regular part of my job. I encourage you to understand what motivates you so that you can create a fostering environment too. Check out Stephanie Ross Coaching and the Enneagram for yourself!