Peace from the Inside Out, Part I

The Enneagram shows how different our own world-view can be from the world-views of our family members and neighbors. The importance of this for individuals and their relationships has implications for what can be achieved between countries and nationalities. Using this system of describing nine basic types of people usually begins as a tool for individual self-discovery and self-growth. When we find our main type, our relationship to the other eight types inside us begins to change. Little by little we realize that we connect easily with some of these internal types yet we cannot easily access others. The same is true externally—there are some types of people we have trouble understanding. By studying the system, we try to understand all the world-views with the goal of acceptance, which eventually leads to realizing they are universal. The concept of “us and them” weakens. We can’t see people in Iraq or Afghanistan, nor can we see any group, as “other” because we see they have personalities like ours. Only their cultural style is different. To see all humans the way we see ourselves is crucial to peace. Self-acceptance begins inside and spreads outward.

Each of us has the potential to understand the other types, but shadow issues or unfamiliarity can present a challenge. We hope to grow more healthy in our type: the Perfectionist learns that it’s common to be self-critical in order to be perfect, so she works on being good to herself instead of hitting herself over the head. This is the self-acceptance the system encourages. For example, Edith was an Adventurer and avoided the most fearful type, the Questioner, both internally in the form of denying her fear and as represented by Questioners she met. As her attitude toward fear became healthier, she increasingly accepted live Questioners as well as her own fear.

Nine Ways to Make Peace

If a team of nine, one of each type, were sent on a mission of peace, they might contribute these gifts, according to their type:

1 The Perfectionist  – fairness

2 The Helper – harmony

3 The Achiever – can-do

4 The Romantic – compassion

5 The Observer – new angles

6 The Questioner – loyalty to the cause

7 The Adventurer – enthusiasm

8 The Asserter – protectiveness

9 The Peace Seeker – conciliation

Perfectionists are motivated to improve things. If you understand this type, you will realize they are trying to help you when they give advice, more than to criticize you. Most value being a fair, logical, and level-headed force for peace.

Helpers also give advice, as they are motivated to meet others’ needs. In order to accomplish this, they empathize in order to find out about you. Helpers excel in the role of harmonizer.

Achievers are motivated to attain a successful image. Knowing this, you may not be offended if they boast about their car, house, or accomplishments. They are energetic, work hard. get things done, and will follow through. I would call upon an Achiever to come up with a plan for peace that works.

Romantics are motivated to express their individuality. They are compassionate, deep feelers—they can go to someone’s heart space and can be excellent communicators.

Observers are motivated to acquire knowledge and tend to be quiet and sensitive. Some are creative and able to think up new ways of putting things together. An Observer might come up with an original plan for peace.

Questioners are motivated to reduce risk, though some act daring in order to prove they aren’t afraid. Many comedians are of this type because they’re good at scanning for danger, information to help them stay safe, and what will amuse audiences. Questioners will crusade for causes they believe in, including peace.

Adventurers are motivated to explore possibilities. They’re fun loving, optimistic, and like to keep their options open. As some of the most idealistic of the types, they treasure life. Many want to save the earth and end war.

Asserters are motivated to set clear boundaries and are protective of the underdog and those they love. They have a great deal of energy, often prefer to be independent or to be the boss, and want you to be worthy of their respect. They have tough exteriors but soft hearts and can make excellent warriors for peace and for those in need.

Peace Seekers are motivated to maintain inner calm. Sometimes this necessitates mediating when people are in conflict. They’re good at negotiating because they can see many points of view. They connect well with people and can work for peace among nature, humans, and the technology and superstructures we have created that are now harming the earth.

Part II is now on my blog on Psychology Today. Please click here:

The Good Soldier: “How to Survive Death”


While writing “The Career Within You,” Ingrid Stabb and I invented a way of finding your career that resembles a tree-finder. The result of taking the “Wagele-Stabb Career Finder” myself was to find out that I’d do well as a journalist.

Most of my books have had a large journalistic component: interviewing people. But what fun it would be to go out on exciting assignments, too, were I to start a new working-life. I’d be an objective observer at happening events,  the first at big fires, imbedded with armies, interviewing world leaders. Or maybe I’d be a photo-journalist or a cartoon-journalist.

If you go to my web site,, you’ll see a blue book cover with the title, “How to Survive Death.” My friend and mentor Harry Gans and I wrote this light look at death. For part of it we interviewed people, mostly at the French Hotel Cafe in Berkeley, about what they expect to find when they die.  You can read this little 26 page book  on my web site free. I think you’ll enjoy Harry’s illustrations.

I have another journalistic project going on, too. This one is also about death but a more serious, longer book. I want to find out how the nine Enneagram types think about death and whether the intense experience of the death process intensifies how they express their type. I’ve been collecting some interesting stories about death by people of Enneagram types for a few years. I’m sure there are many other fascinating stories out there, but many are reluctant about sharing their experiences. If you have a story I’d like to hear it; the only requirement is that you know your own Enneagram type and the Enneagram type of the person it’s about. Send it to: and put “Enneagram/Death” in the title bar. When I get enough, I’ll make them into a book.

This is Veteran’s Day week. Bill Moyers ran a part of the documentary, “The Good Soldier,” on a recent program. I recommend it.  The most important issue for me when I supported Obama was that I hoped he would end the violence our country was engaged in.