Transforming Stories with the Enneagram
We were honored to sit down for a conversation with Ian Morgan Cron, best-selling author and renowned Enneagram authority.
In this conversation hosted by Dan and Rachael, Ian shares how to use the Enneagram to push past old, stale stories and unlock inner power for both spiritual and personal growth. In this episode, you’ll gain new insight about how to rewrite broken narratives and step into becoming your authentic self.
About our guest:
Ian Morgan Cron is a bestselling author, psychotherapist, Enneagram teacher, Episcopal priest, and the host of the wildly popular podcast, “Typology,” which has over 17 million downloads. His books include the Enneagram primer The Road Back to You, the novel Chasing Francis, the spiritual memoir Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me, and The Story of You: An Enneagram Journey to Becoming Your True Self (December 2021).
Known for his transparency, humor, and depth of insight into the inner workings of the human heart and mind, Ian uses the Enneagram personality typing system as a tool to help people cultivate self-awareness and find happiness. He and his wife, Anne, have three children and live in Nashville, Tennessee.
His latest book, The Story of You is available for purchase anywhere books are sold.
Dan: Racheal. Every, every time we do this, it’s, it’s really fun, but there’s certain days, certain opportunities that I can just say… I went to bed last night, just anticipating what this day would hold. I mean, when you get a chance to be in the presence of a luminary, an iconoclast, um, a complex brilliant, sweet, and difficult, but deeply godly human being. It’s a good day. And of course, I’m talking about you Racheal.
Racheal: Oh, sure, sure, sure.
Dan: But I’m also talking about Ian Cron and we, we have the privilege of being with really a remarkable human being. So Ian, welcome. Rachel, welcome.
Ian: Thank you, Dan. Good to be with you.
Dan: And, uh, the words fit? Luminary, iconoclast, complex, Brilliant, difficult, beautiful.
Ian: Yes. All the above. I’m a as, as, as you might imagine a bouquet of contradictions, so…
Dan: Right there. Close it down, baby, like a bouquet of contradictions, which again has a fragrance and a complexity where you just go, let me sniff it, but I’m more likely to snort it. So here we go, Rachel, I think you’re gonna need to manage two difficult men today, so…
Racheal: Oh no, I’m not gonna work that hard. I’m actually just going to enjoy the play. So…
Dan: If you have a direction, great, if not look, this man, has brought something of the enneagram and the life of Christ and the heartbreak and magic of addiction and the reality of what redemption looks like for those of us who are pretty significantly broken into a realm of what it means to live out something of the beauty of being beloved. So as we introduce you, Ian, I want people to know that this new book, the story of you, uh, the enneagram journey to Becoming Your True Self is a brilliant follow up to The Road Back to You. And we’re, we’re gonna talk about the enneagram and I know many of our listeners know you and also know the enneagram. Some ain’t never heard of me, uh, or frankly of the enneagram. I don’t want this to be a 101 basics. So I just wanna say to folks, the enneagram is a, one of the most complex rich entries into both a description of personhood and personality, but also a framework for understanding others, but also understanding what it means to mature. So if this is a new category to you, The Road Back to You is a great book to begin, but we’re, we’re gonna mostly be talking about your new book, The Story of You. Uh, but before we get there, I, I, I just wanted to, I mean, you do, you’re a sage, correct?
Ian: Mm. Yeah. Um, I have an increasing awareness as I’ve, you know, now in my early sixties that, uh, I, I might have something of use to say to, to people, uh, and I try to temper that with enough humility to realize it, it might be long winded. So, uh, you know, I guess if that’s a, a sage then thank you. Yes.
Dan: Well, I, I think we certainly see you as a sage and at least I want you to begin by, by how did that happen? Like, I don’t think anyone like goes, I think I would like to be a Sage when I grow up. Um, but there’s a process by which one becomes what even, you know, in some sense in both your awkwardness and humility, don’t quite want to name that you are, you are. So how, how did, how did that happen?
Ian: You know, I, uh, I’ve never had anyone ask, ask me that question. I, I think the first thing that comes to mind and it will sound perhaps, uh, I think I’ve tried to suffer well and I’ve spent a lot of my life, uh, trying to make sense of, of, and, and help others make sense of, of their own suffering. Um, that, that to me is not a, uh, you know, a melancholic preoccupation with personal darkness or tragedy. It really is about realizing that that, that is such fertile ground for self understanding and, and also entering into conversation with the mystery of God and in our own lives. Uh, and, and so I, I find that hopeful, beautiful work, and I’ve, you know, I’ve, I’ve dedicated my life to that in a strange way. Um, and I think along the way, it’s given me, uh, some, some wisdom that might be of, of service to others as it has been to me.
Dan: Well, it’s a blunt question. What’s the nature of the suffering that you’ve endured. That’s brought you with some degree of intentionality to truly be a sage?
Ian: Well, you know, I grew up in a, a profoundly troubled home. My father was an alcoholic and a drug addict. He was, uh, a diagnosed, uh, narcissistic personality disorder, probably bumping on the sociopathic end of that. Um, and, uh, so that, that provided a difficult, uh, entry point into the world. Um, then the development of my own, uh, alcohol and drug addiction treatment, uh, being in treatment for it. Um, it’s been a lifelong struggle, uh, that, that, you know, that’s not one of those things, you know, you snap your fingers and, you know, magically it disappears. Uh, and, uh, these are the kinds of ways that, that have, have brought me into a place of self exploration and self discovery in service, really though, trying to figure out who God is in, in the middle of, of all that, like dealing with, what is it, what, what are these desires, what are, what are these places of emptiness that demand some kind of filling? Um, I don’t have the answers to that, but I, but I have some intuitions and some provisional guesses, uh, as to what those things might be. So, uh, you know what the, so that’s maybe just a, a few points of touch points as to what my own personal suffering. Um, and I love what you said here earlier about the heartbreaking magic of addiction. I just think that’s fantastic. I, I just wrote it down. In fact, I have a pen because I know from my last conversation with, you always bring a pen to a conversation with Dan Allender, cause he’s gonna have turns of phrase that I swear to God are gonna show up in my next book, just so you know, without, without attribution I might add.
Dan: Oh, without attribution is the only way to honor somebody who bears even some wisdom. So I, I, I am beyond honored that I would be non-attributed, but present in your life and work
Dan: Yeah. I mean, I, you know, as a fellow addict, uh, and you know, like I have seen such darkness in my own massive amounts of attempts to fill, uh, my life, but I’ve also seen that there is that reality that, that the, the deepest hearts desires often show themselves in a mistaken and heartbreaking way in the midst of addiction. So addiction has been obviously just a central part of your life in terms of not only your family of origin, but in terms of your, your own realm of walking. And I, I do think a lot of sages end up, um, having the tutelage uh, uh, of the addictive process as again, maybe not a friend that I wanna hang out with, but it’s a friend that’s reintroduced me to God again and again.
Ian: Mm. Yeah, me too, man.
Dan: I’m looking at you, Rachel. Cause, I have a million things that I wanna ask this man. And I’m just, I really will be rude if, if are there directions that you, you have,
Racheal: Yes. Let me interrupt this beautiful conversation to take this in a different direction. No, I’m well with us continuing. And I think I just, I wanna reiterate that language and that you shared around wisdom being so deeply connected to like suffering and being cultivated out of suffering. And, um, and that just resonates with my own life and experience and really resonates with the people I trust so deeply, um, to speak, to speak with wisdom and to, turn to for some sense of how to make sense of God, how to make sense of our humanity, how to make sense of the world, even though our, our own inclination is to want to escape suffering. And so I appreciate that the languaging of that connection.
Dan: So it, if I can just jump back in, uh, like in fourth or fifth grade, did you have a kind of peculiar self awareness of yourself in the world?
Ian: Well said. Um, yes, absolutely. I was kind of a quirky kid. Uh, I, uh, I, I had a, you know, I grew up in a very Roman Catholic environment, um, and went to Catholic school. I was, uh, deeply immersed in Catholic culture, ritual mythology. Uh, I had a mother Mary nightlight, you know, we had, uh, our house was full of statues and our clothes smelled like incense, you know, uh, after being in, uh, Sunday mornings. And I was very, I was very swept up in the mass. I did not enjoy Catholic education, uh, but I, I loved the mass and, and there was something about the inarticulable, the unnamable that I experienced and in the mass that deeply drew me. Um, and, uh, I’ve was a, you know, a kid that liked poetry. I was a kid who liked, even songwriting. I loved, uh, uh, which, you know, when you’re growing up around a bunch of other Irish Catholic kids who love brawling and baseball, you know, didn’t exactly make me, it didn’t exactly make me a social fit. Um, and, and so I did, I, I just, I think I always had this sense that the world was, was brimming with God. And I, I just was always a very attuned to it in a way that I’m sure made other kids scratch their heads. Um, and, uh, so yes, I, I definitely, um, was a kid that in fifth grade, uh, was not exactly like all the other fifth graders. Though. You know, I was part of that fraternity of, of young people that, uh, seemed to have been taken, uh, arrested, I think, by God’s presence in all things.
Dan: Well, the reason I ask and we’ll come back to this in a moment, is I, one of the things that have troubled me with regard to the enneagram, at least in past in interactions, reading, et cetera, is so much of my thinking in life has been built in and through the process of story. And though there’s no contradiction in looking at the enneagram and thinking about narrative, I just, haven’t seen a lot of work done that allows us to come through the lens of the enneagram into the nature of story. So when I had the privilege of being on your podcast, and, and you were putting words to this new book, I’m telling you that was just a sense of, I cannot wait to get my hands on this book to see what you do, how you engage story. And I think that’s one of the, the geniuses of this book. Uh, at one point you write that, you know, that some people use the enneagram as a tool to reinforce their old story. Um, and that I I’d love just to kind of begin with that, to say, obviously you have seen some concern or you wouldn’t have written this book engaging both story and enneagram. So how is it that people engage the enneagram, at least historically in some situations, and not step into story.
Ian: Right. Well, I think, you know, I can remember when I first learned about the enneagram and they referred to these nine personality types, there was always a piece of me that felt like, uh, personality type? Okay. I’ll run with that. But I was always, there was just something in me that was a little bit like, uh, there’s something more here. And for years I could not figure it out exactly what it was, but it was this intuition. This is cause you know, personality is such a hotly contested debate and we’ve, we’ve studied things like personality theory, personality development, nobody agrees on where that comes from in fact they all argue with each other. And, and, and so I, I remember I just began studying the work of Dan McAdams and narrative therapy. Uh, and, and I remember, you know, some of which I like some of which I don’t, you know, in their application, but, uh, I was taken up by… found a lot of positive material in it. And I, I remember them having this insight that, oh my gosh, wait a minute. These aren’t personality types exclusively. Anyway, these are nine archetypal stories that we see so often in the general population that we should just pay attention to them. That’s all, you know. And, uh, I think when we understand them as stories, then we, we are then, uh, prevented from merely looking at these as, as static personality types, uh, and in which people go well, that’s just what I am, you know? And, uh, and, and which can only give them license to continue in the predictable, habitual, negative patterns of behavior that don’t serve them or others. Uh, and I just love to talk about them in the language of narrative, of story, because stories are fluid, stories evolve stories can change, stories, can be rewritten, uh, or reinterpreted. Uh, and you know, then because, and that also story when it’s presented this way gives people a language of transformation that you, that otherwise you might not have. Uh, and so I just love this, um, this way of yeah. Approaching the topic of, of the enneagram. I think it makes it more useful of people on a transformational journey.
Racheal: Yeah. I think it’s really powerful. Um, the ways in which, and I know other people using the enneagram do this too, but I love the ways in which, in your book and also on your podcast and working with people that you highlight that it is, it it’s meant to be like story transformation. And it’s not that we’re bound. It’s not like we’re coming to this to kind of type ourselves. And we’re just bound to these realities of us that there is, there is fluidity, there is transformation, and I love your language of like noticing and owning like the strengths and the shadow. And we talk a lot at the Allender Center about like, we are both beautiful and broken, and those things will always be true and to some extent, but we can grow and transform where we’re not as bound to our brokenness where it doesn’t have to be the primary story, even if it will always, in some ways be a part of the story. And I know for myself, I came to the enneagram after being immersed in like Allender Center’s story work. And actually I laugh because engaging your book and reading through the different types, it was so helpful because I actually think it was confusing for me coming directly through the lens of story, because we have, you know, we’re really dynamic. So I was like, well, I could be this based on this thematic stories and I could be this. And, and I just, I found your writing so helpful in locating it in these archetypal stories and, and seeing which ones are most primary because yeah, of course, with the enneagram we kind of touch all of them, but what’s what are the ones that, yeah. Keep us bound?
Dan: The, the great category nature nurture, you know, something’s given something’s not, and in the intersection of those realms, we know there is something, a personhood and the uniqueness of that. So as, as we step into story, you’ve articulated that you would fit something of the enneagram four, uh, I’m curious how you have played and thought about the intersection of your relationship with your father and just to, and I’m making assumptions here. So you can correct quickly. I would presume, as I asked, that you were very sensitive, deeply aware, poetic presence in the world, and from what you’ve described in the book, and other places, your father that would not quite fit, uh, the way he engaged the world. Uh, I would not think that there would’ve been a lot of warmth toward, uh, a boy, uh, who loved poetry and was, um, caught, uh, in the fragrance of incense. Uh, so given that, uh, I can’t imagine that there was a great deal of warmth, uh, between you and your father. Is that a again, a fair set of, of, of sentences?
Ian: Yes. Uh, he was a, as I mentioned, deeply troubled, uh, he was, uh, could be cruel. Uh, he, uh, for my father, there was a certain amount of entertainment, uh, in, um, seeing the effects of his, um, power over other people. Um, and, you know, it’s taken me some time to arrive at some, some healing and some measure of understanding of his, uh, brokenness that has given me some hard won, uh, peace, uh, about the experience. And he, yeah, my whole family. I mean, we’re talking about, about a bunch of Irish Catholic brawlers. I mean, my, you know, really my brothers, I mean, I hate to say this, but my family had the emotional intelligence of Shrek, you know, it was, they were just, I mean, they just were not at all attuned to the same things that I was. And I, that is not to say that I’m better. It’s not to say that, you know, I’m a, there’s a buttercup in the, you know, in the manure, I’m just saying that we were so different from each other, that even if he’d been a sober human being, we wouldn’t have known what to do with each other, you know? Uh, and, um, so yeah, and I, I do think that gave birth to a story, right. Uh, because these, these broken stories that we inhabit really are born of the, the spoken words and the silences that we experience growing up, uh, they’re, they’re born of internalized messages and of, um, you know, uh, and they’re useful. Yeah. Yeah. They’re useful as little people. Uh, but as Carl Jung, who’s a great, uh, hero to me would say, you know, that, and there’s a bastardization of it, but that, which helps you survive the morning of life will kill you in the afternoon, you know? And so, uh, you know, we have to face these stories, um, in all of their brokenness and beauty, by the way, you’re, I love what you said, Rachel, because actually it’s not in the, in my office right here, but I have a beautiful 200 year old kisuge bowl that a friend named Mako Fujimora gave me as a gift. And, uh, it’s about 200 years old. To me, every time I look at it, I go, look, there’s the gospel. Yeah. Every single time broken and beautiful. And in fact, more be beautiful than it was prior to its breakage. I mean, you know, to me that is that just sort of captures the whole of the gospel, you know, and how do we hold these, these truths intention and, and sort of, you know, not disavow either, you know, but to live in this sort of wonderful tension between the two and that boy that’s like learning to ice skate every day, isn’t it?
Dan: Yeah. Amen. Well, back to that question of how has a four come to see something of the nature of the narrative of, of being truly odd man out, uh, and, and it’s again, not asking you to divulge any more than you wish, but I would imagine that there was cruelty directed against something of that unique tender, wise, poetic heart at a very young age. So in the engagement and, and being able to name as a four as a romantic, as somebody who longs to be, but also is very special. Um, H how, how has that helped you name and engage some of the harm you’ve endured, uh, in that, in that world?
Ian: Man, that’s a great question. And so I, I grew up, I think the underlying premise of the story I crafted as a young person to make sense of my life in the world, ran something like this. There is something fundamentally broken, some unredeemable deficiency at my core that, um, disqualifies me from love relationship and belonging in the world. And there is this missing component in my essential makeup that everyone else seems to have. Everyone else seems to have normalcy and happiness and ease in the world. And, um, I don’t, for some reason. And so you, it created, I think in me, this, uh, sense that I was, had been relegated to the isle of misfit toys and that somehow or another, I was gonna have to compensate to, to win back, uh, a place in the world where I finally belong. Now, here’s the crazy thing. My strategy, as it is for most fours was to project, uh, a image, if you will, of specialness and uniqueness in, in, uh, which would then I hoped convince others to, uh, welcome me home into the world. Now, of course, as is true with all the nine stories of the enneagram, the strategies we employ to get our needs met in the world, actually frustrate any possibility of getting our needs met.
Racheal: It really backfires. They really backfire.
Ian: Yeah. I mean, you know, if you wanna belong in the world, and then you cast yourself as someone who’s special and unique, all that ends up happening is, uh, other people push you away because you are so far outside the social norm, or they pedestalize you in such a way that you now are some kind of, uh, you know, better person than they, you know, it’s a, and that is true for all nine stories. I, I would also say just as a point of reference, how do I know these are broken stories? Because the underlying premise of every single one of them is in direct opposition to the story of grace. Uh, and so obviously there’s nowhere in the gospel in the, in our sacred text, that’s says, uh, you are unredeemably deficient. There is something, uh, missing in you that everyone else has that, that for whatever reason God has withheld from you. Uh, and here’s a, this is what you have to do in order to earn relationship and love. I mean, that’s, and I could go through all nine stories of the enneagram and, and we would all agree. These are broken stories. If not, if for no other reason, then they run in, in direct opposition to what God would have us believe about ourselves and the way the world works.
Dan: It’s just delicious.
Racheal: I’m just thinking about my, yeah. I’m like, oh, I’m just thinking on my own broken story archetype. And I think yes, that those, the contraryness and yet the ongoing work, um, to receive what is most true of that grace and, and
Ian: And too Rachel, thank you.
Racheal: And the impulse to push it.
Ian: Beautifully said. And I would say that, um, you know, of course, in, in your case, as an engram to the helper, uh, or even a better word for you would be the Befriender. Uh, I, I think, I think that, of course, you know, nowhere in the gospel, does it say that in, in order to win love and esteem, that you have to meet the needs of others while at the same time disavowing your own personal needs and as a strategy for winning approval, engage in calculated strategic giving.
Racheal: I know.
Ian: Craziness, right?
Racheal: I know in my resistance to being a two, I remember like, just like, oh, I think I’m something else. And then God very graciously in a time of reflection and just asking, bringing back things like my first therapist saying, you need a fast from helping relationships. There’s something you’re getting from this that’s actually deeply pathological, or, um, do you believe God loves you more than God loves God’s mission for you? So I had to start to reckon with, you know, everything you’re saying absolutely true. And, you know, and I think that that’s what can be so tragic about these broken stories, uh, like you named there’s the time in which they help us survive and they help us get our needs met in ways that get us through deprivation and a lot of things, but it does reach a point where it actually starts to really harm and keep us from what we’re most meant for. And I appreciate the ways in which you’re also inviting us to ponder. What could those new stories be? What are we meant to awaken to what is this grace of God that actually is meant to break through and bring and help us rewrite a different story?
Ian: Mm mm. You just reminded me. I, I saw, uh, a bumper sticker the other day and I, I haven’t, I’m gonna put it on my wall. It said, “This is life. It sucks. You’re gonna love it.”
Dan: Oh. And that, you know, again, what you expect, uh, at least as you begin, that is the simple, “shit happens”. Um. But it, it it’s like, no, you know, this excrement has the potential to grow something really remarkable. Uh, if you at least spread it, uh, and allow goodness to arise within it, and even to come back into some of what I found so helpful, the category of soar, um, that acronym S O A R I just want you to walk us through how you’ve been able to use that as you’ve been wrestling again with your own story. I mean, you, you have known humiliation, you have known cruelty and yet, uh, I, I think the, your presence is one again, I, I not going to be a typically hold you into the realm of glorification here, but nonetheless, you know, there is a kindness about you and the ability to invite and to welcome, uh, and most strangers, most people who have been in some sense, uh, left out, uh, are not often the most welcoming human beings. So something’s happened for you. And again, I know it’s impossible, uh, to enumerate in a kind of step by step by step. But nonetheless, uh, I think that notion of look, you’ve gotta see, you’ve gotta own, you’ve gotta awaken and indeed, you’ve gotta rewrite just a helpful lens for thinking about the work of restoration.
Ian: Yes. Well, first of all, I wanna say I, by way of that, Dan, first of all, thank you. And it’s deeply encouraging. I, I had an experience, uh, when I was eight years old and I, I mentioned this, that, because I think it’s, it’s an interesting backdrop to answering your question. Um, I, I remember I, it was a Saturday morning. It was around 7:00 AM. I grew up in Connecticut. And so it was one of those days, uh, autumn mornings that was, you know, the, the sky was that perfect azure blue and, and the, the leaves were at their peak. And, um, there was no traffic on the streets and I jumped on my bike and I was just riding along and in a, in a most unexpected way, I had this moment that where I felt transported, I, I would say that it was a, it was a, a truly, a mystical kind of a visitating moment, you know, where I felt. And it only lasted about eight seconds. I honestly, it lasted eight seconds where I had this profound elevated sense of two things, well three things, maybe one is that I was profoundly connected to all things that there was an interconnectedness to life and that I was, uh, a constituent part of it. Secondly, that, uh, that I, I actually belonged here. In, in a very powerful, deep way. And then, uh, I, I would say also the sense that, um, everything was gonna be right. I can’t, I cannot explain it to this day, I get a little emotional about it, but I really had this sense. It’s okay. This is gonna be all right. You know, and I, I mentioned that because in part, I think in many ways, my addictions were my disorganized attempt to try and recreate that experience for myself through some kind of a chemical shortcut. Right. I, I just was always chasing the dragon. That was the dragon. I was sort of chasing, looking for the window of ecstasy that would somehow remember, take me back to those eight seconds, you know, uh, which I think is the, you know, I think in some ways, all addicts, uh, which we all are, are frustrated mystics at some level, as Carl Young would say, Uh, and, um, to your, uh, your initial question, which I cannot remember, um, because I got so swept up in, in the storytelling of that. Uh, but it was related somehow, uh, to it. Um, I, the, the journey I, I, I set out in the book of SOAR really is it’s reductive, but at least it gave some framework to people to do their work. Right. So the first step, uh, uh, in the journey is to see, and that is really to look back upon life and, uh, to recount the story, you know, it, it is to take inventory. It is to look back upon the losses. Uh, it is to, um, in a way that is with a great deal of, of self compassion. And even sometimes a disinterest, you know, it’s like, I’m simply gonna name what happened here. You know, I’m just, I’m not gonna get wrapped up in it. I’m just gonna name it right. Then I think comes that process of owning. I think this is shadow work. I, I think this is acknowledging our participation in the broken story, unconscious it, as it may have been. Um, and, uh, also, uh, it is to reclaim what you, Jung would call the golden shadow. That in your shadow is not only darkness, but there is unclaimed disavowed beauty that needs to be, uh, brought to the fore and owned. And of course, as, as you two know, in some ways it’s much more frightening to own your beauty than it is to, uh, than it is to name your brokenness. I mean brokenness is easy. Yeah. You can just say well nothing I can do, you know, it’s like, and then people always go, oh, well, you know, I’m broken and it’s all about grace. It’s like, yeah, but there’s also this beauty in you. That is gonna scare the hell out of you because now you’re gonna have to be accountable to its use and the, and the universe, right.
Dan: Oh, we’re saying Amen brother. Amen.
Ian: Then I think, uh, there’s this awakening component. And if, if there’s four, if of all the letters, awakening is a little of the Funt of the four. Right. I, I think that number one, I think that, uh, it’s a shame that we all often say this, but I think that Christianity is an enlightenment religion. I, you know, which always scares Christians because they’re like, oh, that’s so Eastern. And I’m always saying, well, it is a near Eastern religion. That’s a side. But, Uh, I always, I, I always wanna say that, you know, if Jesus is the light of the world is not the point to become therefore enlightened right. To become filled with the light of the world. And so words like awakening and enlightenment to me, uh, are, it is sad that we don’t include them in the lexicon of our own faith. Right. Um, to me, awakening is how do we begin to develop a mind that has the capacity in the moment to, uh, to monitor, observe, to monitor and, um, self-regulate to, to realize in the moment what is happening right now. Has the, am I living in that old story again? How do I extricate myself, uh, from this old story and reclaim a new story? Um, and I think it’s also awakening to, well, what are these old scripts, you know, it’s like, and how do I know when I have fallen? Cause they, you know, these stories, don’t, they, they have a trance like quality, you know, we, we just sort of fall into them. It’s that fish, water trope, you know, it’s like, you know, uh, we find ourselves on, uh, in this sort of trapped in this mechanistic autopilot that you know, of the old story. And then R is the rewrite process. And I think this is sort of left up in part to the discretion of the reader. I provide some ideas as to how that can be done, but again, I, I feel like this requires the pen and the paper as well. What is the story that I wanna live? What, what would I name it, for example, you know, I often times say it’s a powerful exercise with people to say, okay, well please title the memoir of your early life for me. And I, I would say, well, for me, it was the lost boy, right? The lost boy and of the, if I were to rename the, the book now, uh, one of the many titles, I guess I would have for the, the, the new story in which I find myself would be the redeemed man. And so, you know, even those even just that exercise alone and the rewrite is, is terrifically powerful. So, See, Own, Awaken, Rewrite, it’s a lifelong process. It will always be, you’ll always be editing there’s no, there’s no finished book. Uh, and, uh, so, you know, that’s, that’s how it rolls for us.
Dan: Well, as we come, unfortunately, uh, not quite to an end, but I, I, I want you to work with Rachel now. Uh, and she, she’s a remarkable, wise, I would also say sage, um, and she has to deal with a good friend, companion co um, something or other, uh, uh, who’s an eight, so, or maybe a four or an inverted four or whatever. So as you think, and you, you’ve had at least some encounter now with the two of us, how, how do you see a two and a eight playing together and, and counsel for this good woman as to how she is to live well in the presence of difficulty?
Ian: Yes. Well, I would say number one, uh, to recognize that any two people who have consciously and intentionally begun the journey toward, uh, self knowledge in service, not to self-realization, as much as in service to participating well in the ongoing program of redemption that Jesus is about in the world, right? That’s, that’s the reason, right? Uh, and, uh, you know, for a, to the degree that you are self aware in doing that work, any two numbers can be fantastic together. If, if there’s a gap, uh, one person is doing the work and the other one is even perhaps being intentionally resistant to the work, uh, the bigger this gap, the greater, the distance that will be between the two of you. Right. Uh, I would say that, uh, you know, for you Dan, the underlying premise, I think as a young person that, uh, an eight begins to, uh, subscribe to is that the world is a hostile and dangerous place in which the powerful dominate the weak. And, uh, and in, in which, um, you are resolved, it’s like an… It’s like Batman, you know, he has that vow early in life, right. You know, I’m gonna get all those people who killed my parents. He makes that vow. It’s such a beautiful illustration of what children do unconsciously. They make promises, they make oaths, uh, about what they will do with their life. And of course, that’ll screw you up, uh, who wants to follow, you know, it’s always a problem when you follow the dictates of an eight year old. And so you, it’s not something you wanna do for the rest of your life, right? Uh, and, and so, you know, I think what the, eight does then is they assert strength and power over others in the environment in order to mask from themselves and others, vulnerability and weakness. Uh, now Dan, you’ve done a ton of work. And so this, this, this underlying premise has been, I’m sure, profoundly interrogated and challenged by you, right? So you, you are perhaps no longer as governed from the shadows, uh, by this, this, under this sort of set of, uh, assumptions. However, you know, we carry the, you know, the residue of these. yeah. In, in our lives. And I think, you know, um, what, what is interesting, one of the things that you can borrow from, from Rachel is this, um, this belief in a cruciform life where, where the heart is open to the world, right. And is willing to be broken and to be vulnerable, to not see vulnerability as weakness, but to, to recognize that when we are weak, we are strong. This is the great paradox that eights are having to learn. And I know that this is something you’ve done. Uh, I know that also that your strength, uh, which, which is very apparent, um, can be used to step into other people’s lives. And to sometimes with, uh, dare, I say it, you know, grace can be violent. Uh, and so, right. I mean, there, this is a Flannery O’Connor idea, right. But grace can be violent. And, and so your capacity to step in and call bullshit on people’s assumptions, uh, in a way that, I mean, sometimes I think, you know, probably feels like a left hook outta nowhere. See, that’s part of the gift of the, of the eight, but when it’s tempered by that cruciform heart, the open heart in the moment, God, that’s a powerful, you know, mix, uh, for, for other people. And so I think, you know, Rachel can continue to remind you of the power of the vulnerable heart of the cruciform life. And I think also what you can, of the many things that, that you can, as an eight begin to share with her is, Hey, guess what, Rachel, there are boundaries, You know?
Racheal: To every two, who’s had to figure out boundaries. It starts out with like a no before they find the like, no, I’m okay.
Ian: Know, you know, you know that no is a full sentence. Right. And so I think, uh, that, you know, uh, also borrowing that strength, you know, that, that capacity to not need cause what, what, what the, what the two is so hungry for. And it sounds so basic is you just wanna be liked. Yeah. It sounds so simple, but you know, we all wanna be liked, but not like a two wants to be liked. Yeah. You know, I mean, a two you’re an entire self-esteem if I can use that word, uh, is born out of looking in the eyes of someone else who is saying to you, I don’t know what I could do, what I would do without you. Yeah. And, and, and that, that is a terrible medication. Yeah. You do not wanna buy into that, you know, uh, because you’re gonna meet a lot of pathological people. You’re gonna have to pull from a herd somewhere along the line, so I, I think there’s so much the two of you can learn from each other. The key is of course, like, as it’s true for all of us is your commitment to doing your own work will bring blessing to any relationship to it. The moment you abandon that, that’s the moment that your relationship will falt
Dan: Glory, Glory. This, this is a little, a little swerve, but I, I just have to say it. Um, you have the privilege of having work with one of the most remarkable human beings. I know on the earth, Kathy Helmer.
Ian: Oh, is she your agent too?
Dan: No, she was. And then is she wisely dumped me? Um,
Ian: But oh, oh, she’ll do that. Oh, no, I’m gonna bring that into my awareness. No,
Dan: I’m. I’m just saying she was, she had a wisdom enough to know who she could work with, but I two or three of the books that I have produced, she was very central to, so before we end, I just, just to be able to say, you know, we are all, uh, no matter how gifted we are or called, we are, we’re the byproduct in so many ways of the people who have invested, uh, rich, shall we say rich gifts within us. And I know that Cathy has been one of those persons that you, you thank, uh, in your book. So just to underscore, um, the friendships you’ve developed, um, reflect again, the hospitality and the wisdom, and, uh, the honor that you have offered to others and even this interaction between, uh, Rachel and me, it’s a sweet gift. So again, my friend, thank you. Thank you for joining us. And, uh, I trust that the story of you will be a good beginning for folks who do not know much about the enneagram. I’m sorry, The Road Back to You being that, but this book in particular, uh, holds for at least for us. And I hope for others, such a beautiful intersection of the gift of the enneagram, but the honor of being able to engage one’s story well,
Ian: Thanks, Dan, and, and Rachel, I, this is, I could, I could have this conversation for hours. So I, I would love to come out to Seattle. I will pay my way and I will pay you for the opportunity to, to come and, uh, uh, talk about the anagram story. Wouldn’t that be great fun to do that together.
Racheal: That would be so much fun!
Dan: Oh gosh. I, I will, I will consider that a, a, a formal offer, which, uh, even though I, I have some influence, but little power, I, I will say we, we take, we will take and we’ll. We’ll figure in a post post, non-post COVID crazy world, uh, that somehow the intersection of these conversations may be, uh, a gift, not just for us, but for the believing community.
Ian: Amen. It’d be fun. I, we love that.