Below is a long tale of my legnthy journey coming to terms with my type 4 unhealthy responses to both healthy and unhealthy type 9-leadership. I was recently introduced to the Enneagram and have been exploding with insights, many of them perhaps pure bullshit! I don't expect any of you will make it through the whole thing, though as a 4 I secretly hope you will, and I of course just know you'll discover untold treasure if you do. Mostly, it's good to know this is out there, released to the world in addition to working out the thoughts. If you do skim through any of it, please offer any thoughts, I'd be grateful for them.
Both Bryan and Randy are type 9 friends of mine who have led groups that I've been part of.
"Randy" was a buddy from college who was always an enigma. He led our very passionate fantasy football group which keeps us college buddies in touch with each other. The fantasy football league gets together a couple times in person to stay in contact.
"Bryan" is a good friend who, along with another friend of mine, has gone on a journey of mutually assisted growth and a shared concern for helping people build tighter social bonds and find places to belong. It's been an amazing progress, but labeling both he and Randy as 9s has helped me weave a tale of their similarities and finally crack both of their respective codes as naturally very concealed, hard to figure out 9s (at least for formerly ignorant old me).
Also note, nearly everyone mentioned is in their early 30s. Bryan and I are at the stage of life I consider to be kind of trying to produce one's magnum opus, or some sort of tangible finding out in the chaos of the world to bring back to the tribe before we settle back down into middle age. We're wise enough to start to find direction, young enough to have the energy to tackle our major "Life Project".
On one hand, Bryan/Randy are inspiring and bring their respective groups together, and the passive aggression I often hold against them and express to them is a form of Ressentiment (google it, it's not purely resentment) on the part of someone like me. It's true that I, a type 4, have been prone to jealousy at their success in bringing people together where I always seem to fail-- they have genuine abilities and talents for bringing groups together. And so I've been focusing on that in the case of Randy. But I haven't forgotten Randy's many overtly selfish acts. And in Bryan's case, as I draw closer to him, I'm finally starting to open up my eyes and try to start seeing patterns develop (albeit patterns that are more difficult to see because Bryan is older than Randy has been as I've grown up with Randy over the years, albeit online, and thus Bryan is more mature than Randy was during some of his 'incidents' that stick in my mind).
So anyway, talented guys, truly bringing people together, introverted but with a lot of social charisma and grace, and it's a beautiful thing. But on the other hand, they love to load the dice as to the shape and from the group takes, they exact a toll for their leadership that while perhaps not as overt and turbulent as type 8 traditional dominance control, is perhaps more insidious for all of its mystery and subconcious simmering. They either withdraw from a group and give up or they get their way, and they can persistently wait out the other types in a perpetual game of chicken whenever an item they truly oppose is proposed (especially in all the situations I've been in which lack an 8 or perhaps even a well-integrated 3 to challenge their waiting game and call them out on their dishonest method of grinding dissent to a slow and steady powder). In this case, because he is very thankfully at a solid type 9 developmental Level 3 imo, Bryan has not backed away or given up when challenged. However, problems are still ensuing with the 'challenges' or dissagreements to his opinions. My type 5, friend, "Wallace", is the third member of our community building friend triad. Wallace delivered as direct, as informed, and as impassioned a request for Bryan to yield to Wallace's opinion on ONE detail, not the entire ethos of the group, just one detail -- yet Bryan was still relatively unmoved.
Rather than withdrawing from the group as he would at lower less mature Stage 9 development levels, he has resorted to bargaining for a rotation of styles between free-flowing conversation and more structured in an effort to salvage what he can of What He's Used To and The Way Things Have Always Been Done. We've supported lots of his ideas, but he's loathe to let go of a group organization format that could be nothing more than a familiar habit that he doesn't want to mess with, letting his desire for control and credit overtake someone else, Wallace's, very strong desire. I'm operating off the premise that in a marital relationship or in a group that's truly a council-like structure, there need to be weights to opinions. If Wallace and I have yielded on several decisions thus far due to just not having a strong opinion, or further, have leaped onto Bryan's ideas with joy rather than forcing to wait, repeatedly, then I think there's some obligation for Bryan to yield when he can't justify why not. I suspect the reason why an explanation is not forthcoming is that there's not a good reason, Bryan is gripping onto power and control but can't admit it to himself as a 9. Every time he can delay and defer, the battle is tempoarily won and maybe the ground will shift and the issue will dissolve to his victory, never to arise again. Peace is kept, and change to the status quo is minimized.
9s can be charming in their peacemaking efforts, so people let them get their way. Eventually, people give in to the Peacemaker's peace agenda --power often feels good after all to the 'oppressed' (I'm not fully onboard with that sort of Foucaludian anlaysis I just did there, in fact I find it quite insidious, but it's helpful here, and I don't want to make the mistake of fully repudiating it as I think it does tell a relevant story about the world). And so, sure, the group stays together, but the 9 leader also siphons some of the group's essential energy into his own gratification box rather than climbing to the highest levels of development and truly facilitating the free flow of full connection, letting go of agendas and habits and releasing his peacemaking abilities to facilitate the true shared exchange of group energies.
It would seem that at development level 3 9's are unwilling and somewhat incapable of getting more in touch with diversity and dissent at a truer, primal level, as indeed that is their basic fear, the loss and seperation. At lower levels they were indeed lost and seperated and thus numbed out, some of that numbness remains here at level 3 and it contributes to an out of balance, emotionally reserved stubborness that is a totalitarianism lite to the 8's totalitariansm Trump.
Moving up the tree from the darkness of dev 7-9 to Bryan's current locus @ 3 and 4, 9s begin to truly find their place as peacemakers, bringing people together. But not having yet fully made peace with the fear of loss or seperation, they're still gripping onto the group(s) that they've at last created (thus saving them from pain numbing, but now keeping control of the groups so that they don't change or go away is ever important) ever so tightly. And if they have control of and credit for the group's actions, then their place within the group is as secure as it could possibly be. And further, casting a network net far and wide creates a resilient amount of groups that can be intensified or de-intensified depending on need. So once ensconsed as leader, keeping things as they are and so to ensure the minimum possible disruption to their established role as peacemaker and group healer is their best play while still at development level 3/4. Both Bryan and Randy are good at baiting dissent and drawing out passive aggression from other types in an effort to name it and expose it as "false", they do effectively call out the Ressentiment simmering within the ranks in their efforts to make peace, but when they haven't advance to Level 1/2, they aren't doing so in a manner that's relatively free of self-serving bullshit. So again, there's some good and some challenge. I've been coming to terms recently about what my partially failed relationship with Randy might lead me to change about my still growing relationship with Bryan. I need to own and strive to exist at a higher rung of my own 'development tree' in order to try and do my part to spur Bryan up his, rather than what my tendency has been, which is to withdraw and sulk and pretend it's all ok. My jealousy is real, but I should have it drive me to real action in the world, in realistic ways that sync nicely with my type and skills rather than simmering in bitterness and inaction.
So on to Randy, my older friend who I keep in touch with a couple times a year at fantasy football get-togethers, and online through the league portal.
I've often been in utter disbelief with jealousy at how despite Randy's petulant, persistent cheating in fantasy football (exploiting grey area's and his authority as group leader), he's as beloved as ever by my Type 5 friend and his (maybe 3.4w or 4.3w?) wife. Now of course, part of this is that they are decent human beings who can live with some of his faults, which is something I need to learn to do better too. But there's a difference between remaining friends and continuing to be manipulated and disheartened by some of those flaws in action, even if it's just in a board game, as a 4 I can't help but project/imagine that bad behavior as a general character flaw, and feel that there's at least some truth to that projection. It's caused me to doubt the woe-is-me victimhood he preached about his mother a couple years back.
To continue the rundown of the members of the league, two mildly autistic friends that are probably both 1s spar with him a lot as well -- he violates the rules frequently and always comes away unscathed. The 1s aren't as prone to take his leadership lying down, but as they aren't as socially astute, he easily brushes them both aside when they point out his duplicity. ALthough again, in the interest of FAIR AND BALANCED, sometimes they propose stupid rules or ideas and he's had to tactfully shoot them down. The 1s aren't as close to him interpersonally as the 5/4.3w couple, but the 1s still like him (we all are friends after all). One of the 1s, like me, has sometimes almost had enough though. The other members of the group are two pushover 2's** that are always the targets of the manipulative fantasy football trades from Randy, year after year after year (it's incredible really). The final league member is probably a 6.5w who always just goes with the winds...when I've brewed insurrection the 6.5w has temporarily joined* but he always wants to go with the flow. True to form as the 4 who is seldom able to successfully take the mantle of leadership but lusts for it nonetheless, and often has pretty sharp criticisms (though some have just been the result of nerdy wing-5 fantasies of creating a super-complex Fantasy football scoring systems) I have represented Randy's greatest adversary and thorn in his side, stirring up drama, raising hell, calling out his transgressions, sulking, withdrawing. It finally culminated in me just appreciating the social aspects of the group but in withdrawing from caring about the game itself. An ok solution, but a revelation of a deep dysfunctionality that I've been unable to resolve despite repeated attempts, and now feel too repeatedly fooled to continue (reminds me of Enneagram institute's 4/9 relationship discussion of how 4's can get frustrated with 9's refusal to change). Fool me 9 years, and I'll let go of the idea of fair competition or a reasonably equitable, healthy group game experience, though I stay on for the friendship maintenance.
And so, that's my fear that I won't be able to challenge enough of Bryan's dysfunction to keep the group from spinning into something that's reached a surface-level consensus and harmony but that isn't reaching the depths I'd like to, that demands the commitment of a leader from me but which gives the majority of the glory to Bryan. Both narratives are true - the conservative one that places Bryan at the top of a benevolent hierarchy in which I get to benefit if I merely accept my place in the structure, and the more liberal one that critiques the hierarchy as in need of re-creation so that it's not merely a function of Bryan's ego that enables him to claim both benevolence and power and leaves its members partially fulfilled but deprived of a real ownership and co-creation of the structure. So I need to find a way to push on Bryan's structure, put more of myself into that structure so that I can truly claim it as my own (and encourage the same for Wallace), without doing so from a resentful spirit that would rightfully cause Bryan to run away dispirited and hurt after showing his hard-to-reveal 9 inner self to us. Challenging, right?
Ultimately, I'm a big believer in personal responsibility. All of this is most of all, a call for me to likewise step up from type 4 devlopment level 3 to 4 development level 2, just as I'm asking Bryan to where I ever to find a way to communicate this. Hell, I can't even hang in there at development level 3 very often in conflict situations with him. Having a strong headache and being under stress while helping him make an event happen, I devolved into a lot of level 6, feeling very at odds with the group that we'd brought together and judged as the only fat guy, the only uncouth tad bit conservative non-cosmapolitan guy (I suspect a 4 can always find something to project victimhood onto).
What I need to do is just recognize this stuff. This exercise has been healthy. Bryan is on the same journey of fairly rapid personal growth after a major life change (divorce & moving to a more central location for him; for me moving, fighting for a 40-hour work week, working from home, and finishing 4 years of indentured servitude to obtaining the CPA certification).
He really has no more faults than I, truly, I don't think he's any further up his own personal type development tree than I am. He's better looking than me, healthier than me, and his 9-traits make him more popular than me, sure, but I can be who I need to be for him and others by trying to obliterate the spell of his perfection from my mind, or at least acknowledge the good looks and perfection he DOES have and stop layering on 'false suffering' that builds him up to more than he actually is. To his credit, he's been trying to help me do that, been suggesting ways I should do that. I've had trouble truly hearing and beleiving him when he says I should challenge him and treat him as an equal. This difficulty stems from a combination of my own 4 insecurity, but also my own sensitivity to the fact that he's not quite at a point where it's compeltely authentic but more an expression of what he knows he needs to say but can't yet truly say at a deep heart level. But he is literally asking for it. And if I can start to dish it out, then maybe I can help him learn to take it and gradually start really meaning that invitation to challenge just as I start to gradually become truthful in the challenge itself and avoid doublespeak.
So it's time for me to really take hold of that. Now being aware of the Enneagram stuff, as a 4 I'm super lustful to get to development levels 1 and 2. But I think I need to get to development level 3 solidly, first. I'd like to think that I can be self-aware in the moment, and aware of feelings at development level 2, but I think development level 3 has to come first. I have to start speaking the truth, even if in the moment it's with a relative unawareness of my feelings and impulses (until I later analyze them). Once I'm in the habit of doing that, then, I imagine, and only then, can I get to development level 2 where I can start to be sensitive of others and bring more of the tact (though tact is not completely lacking at level 3, I just can't help myself, but keep some level of 'humane' in my speech as the Institute describes it). So it might take a little dev level 3 barbarity, a little bluntness, a matching of his dev level 3, that stage where you start to have value to others (versus being neutral but at least not a drag on society/self in dev stages 4-6, and being an active drag negative force in stages 7-9), but you still have plenty of heavy side effects. That's where he is right now, and the side effects of manipulation and super-subconcious self-servedness is driving me nuts.
It's ironic that to properly counter that, I have to become similarly blunt and nakedly self-serving (because before that I'm not even entering the arena at all, I'm masking my speech in untruth, so better to at least start speaking with honesty and then, once that's developed, start relating honestly to others), the level of development having social value but also having so much work to do to limit the lesser but still real social collateral damage (building people up in 3 ways and harming them in 2 beats stages 7-9 parasitism and 4-6 'well, they give as much as they get', but it's still only marginally helpful). I have to go through that step boldly, but keep my eyes on the prize of eventually keeping the emotionally honest, humanity but rising to interplay it healthfully with others souls. Skipping to dev level 2 without 3, taking others into account but lacking that honesty and sense of self, devolves me to dev level 5&6 in a hurry. Yet I don't want to stay at dev level 3 or else I can't help but think that people at other levels will soon have similar frustrations as I am having to BBryan as a result of his own level 3 progress.
I'm right now at type 4 development level 4, I'm heightening my reality, there's lots of fantasy, lots of passion -- I'm alive where I used to be dystymically inhibited, paralyzed, ashamed.
But I have to be vigiliant. I have to stay self-revealing. I need to bring the Coyote, the laughing at absurdity when appropriate. I need to stay vulnerable and honest. I have to own the fact that my lack of honesty has reinforced and confirmed his still unhealthy presumption that all is well. He suspects it's not, I know he does, and it's actually my job to help us both get there through the tactful, articulate, clear communication of my truth. This often causes fear and trembling in me, but it often gets good results, too. My hope is that the proces of him continuing to be highly attuned to what brings people together and harmony, combined with my high attunedness to the ways in which that pro-social community building talent might still be coming from a self-serving place that's to the detriment of his soul, can create an alchemic reaction that will be an important cog in spurring both of us to dev level 2.
For me, once that truth-speaking is established, I can start morphing that truth into gentle, tactful, compassionate communications that don't compromise the content of the message. For him, hopefully he can likewise up his game; keeping the harmoniousness but bringing forth even more authenticity, even less under the table agenda-setting, i.e. not taking the easy route to harmonisouness (though the easy route to harmoniousness, again, is much better than sitting on the sidelines and creating no group or no movement at all, just as, for me, the easy route to speaking my truth - just saying it, a bit uncouth, even -- is indeed better than silence, simmering, doublespeak, untruth, and ineffectiveness, even if it needs to be leveled up to tactful honesty as soon as is feasible).
No more less-than. No greater-than, either, that's another type 4 cop-out. We're in a similar position on different hierarchies. It's time I brought mine to bear its full weight in our interactions.
If I can do that, than my relationship with Bryan will help develop me, it will sharpen me. Whether or not he comes along into his own dev stage 2 will depend on his choices. If he does not progress, it will probably result in a similar endgame as my fantasy football group -- I'll still have a deep affection for him, consider him a friend, and participate in the social 'world' that he has created to a degree, but I won't be able to put my passion into it because he'll be keeping too tight a grip on it for me to see enough of myself in it to be worthwhile. And then I'll look elsewhere for my primary outlet, just as I did with fantasy football and Randy. I'll put pretty clear boundaries on how much of my time, money, and self I contribute should things go that way.
Indeed, I may be better off trying to start from scratch, though with many type 4 endeavors that seems to be a high risk high reward move, or at least a low probability of success move.
Supposedly type 4's, though it's a longshot to get it off the ground, can indeed create unique works of art as communities/businesses. I still lust after an idiosyncratic creation of Post-Christian spiritual community but wonder if it's going to require a 9 to latch onto and that I might just have to choose the best of all flawed 9-led groups. Or maybe my religious impulses can find shape in my 5-friend's vision for community. We'll have to see what happens in the next chapter of this very blessed journey of my life, making the veil of tears and suffering worthwhile.
*(and, tellingly, I'm a bastard at times too, buth mutinies my first target was 6w5 guy and next were, hypocritically, the same 2-pawns I've been aghast at Randy manipulating. I think on a couple occassions I've grown frustrated at my lack of recongition and have tried to use his same dirty tactics. That wasn't the thing to do. Last year, I did a couple trades that I think were fairly defensible but started to push the line, and he resisted and tried to be 'good' for awhile but as soon as it was clear his team wasn't going to contend for a title he talked one of the 2s into the worst trade he'd ever pulled off to date to top all of my more modest efforts at one-sided trades)
**Also on the '2-pawns'. Out of anyone in the group, I want to be more like them. One of the two especially has toughened a bit in recent years, but in a VERY relative sense. I want to keep an edge, a self-reliance, some 'teeth' with which to effectively function in the world, but also return to levels of balanced trust I had at fleeting times in high school and college. So I want to make clear that I look up to their purity of heart, they are people whose mistreatment and frequent humiliation at the hands of the 9, who, while temporarily chastened doesn't want to feel the guilt and goes back to his defense mechanisms in short order.