Break Out of the Box: Enneatype 7: Don’t Bring Me Down

In working with clients who have the Enneatype 7: The Enthusiast, this type is all about keeping the energy up and positive.   Their focus is on evaluating what is limiting in their lives and how they can shift it to the positive.  When the 7 feels limited in anyway this creates the energy of stress, and it is expressed as anger or the desire to control and constrict those who are imposing the limitation on them. Avoidance protects against their repressed anger, greed and insecurity and keeping it from coming to the surface.  They simply will not talk about the bad stuff, or if they are forced to, they quickly reframe and move on.  It is hard for others as they have to pretend all is well, or be accused of raining on their parade. The unseen issue of 7s is their perception that others are being negative, when it’s their own avoidance of the negative that is causing the problem.  Fear, anger and sadness are normal human emotions and are to be experienced as the full range and depth of life, yet these emotions are seen as limitations to the 7 and they want nothing to do with them.

A lot of energy is placed on keeping themselves happy and this creates pressure to keep this going for others as well.   Any kind of pain, obstacles or major difficulties are seen as something majorly wrong, where the other type structures recognize this is part of the life process.

The foundation of the type is freedom and the broad stroke definition is anything that is seen as a possible limitation, causes pain.  More developed 7’s have grown to understand that limits and pain are part of the life experience and not a reflection that something is wrong and needs to be repressed, avoided or ignored.   7s live life at the extreme end of happiness, yet as life seeks balance somewhere in the middle, as they go to one extreme the other is there, always pulling at them.

Storytelling and jokes keep the party going.  7s will prevail over any adversity. They are capable of generating solutions to problems and offer an endless stream of ideas and ways of looking at problems.  They are survivors, easily maintaining a positive outlook and making the best of any situation.  Think of Guido in the Italian tragicomedy drama, Life is Beautiful.   His character personified the quintessential 7.

One of my 7 clients came me to because she had specific goals she wanted to achieve in the business she just started as a branding specialist, yet recognized her major challenge was delivering success with her current clients and cultivating them as long term customers.   She described all the exciting and new ideas she had, yet was frequently frustrated when the client would either bog down the project with limitations, was slow to move, or was not able to decide.   After a while, she would notice her enthusiasm wane, boredom with the client set in and she saw herself limiting the amount of time she communicated with them, at times forgetting important calls and meetings.  This had detrimental outcomes, as you can imagine, and she knew she had to change something, somehow.

Once she understood the 7 type structure tendencies she could better see how her behavior was creating the problems in how she was communicating with her clients.  7s are creative and have a mind that loves to combine and explore interrelationships to create new arrangements and possibilities.  The mind is always finding something new to make of the old.  She was great with the clients who got her energy and appreciated her endless ideas, yet the majority of clients were seeking her expertise to plan and execute a brand strategy, and she got lost in the follow through.  She was spread so thin with the endless options she presented for them to choose from that most of her client meetings ended in indecisiveness.

7s work is to learn to choose quality over quantity.  And for my client that was discovering what the client valued and using the connective genius of her mind to create a plan.

I had her begin with evaluating each client to understand what she felt about them and the project. Was she frustrated, apathetic, or felt pressure with executing an idea a client wanted to pursue? We role played on how she could communicate more effectively through conscious listening and observing when her mind raced into seeking solutions and ideas.  Her practice, to start, was to simply stay present with the conversation, get clarity on what the client wanted and only then provide feedback or schedule another meeting to present her proposal instead of getting lost in all her great ideas.

Her real work was in observing her thoughts and calming the urge to act out as she had always did in the past.  After the first few meetings with her clients where she practiced  leading the discussion with questions to gain clarity and listening intently before exploring ideas, she was able to create and deliver brand plans and strategies her clients loved.

As a result, she developed a highly effective model on how she takes a client through an engagement.   She continues to strengthen her awareness and is enthusiastically confident in growing a business she loves to do.


Strategies for 7’s Self Development

  1. Notice your hunger for stimulation and gratification as a reminder to return to the present.
  2. Become aware of over-scheduling, multiple projects, future plans and other mental evasions as clues that you may be avoiding something negative or feel limited or trapped.
  3. Observe impulses of the mind rather than to go into them
  4. Be aware of the overly positive atmosphere as it is an unconscious strategy to repress.

I invite you to visit my website at for more in my Break Out of the Box Series and for other resources like determining your own Enneagram Type, to get you started.  While you are there, drop me a note.  I would love to hear from you.  Till next time, be well.

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