Enneagram Type 6’s thoughts continually drift towards the future, alert to possibilities and a source for ideas and inspiration. These thoughts provide a distinct flavor for Type 6’s creative process.
The creative adult is the child who survived. – Ursula Kroeber Le Guin
Enneagram Type 6 has easier access to inspiration when stress and anxiety recede. In this state, the 6 has more perception of others and can perceive possibilities that work for everyone, much like the dynamic of Type 9 along the 6’s Path of Integration. On the other hand, as stress and anxiety increase, the 6 can become singularly focused on their to-do list and highly productive as they check off action items, looking much like Type 3 along the 6’s Path of Disintegration. Motion along each path gives the 6 access to both inspiration and action.
Creativity is essential for problem solving and each step in a problem-solving process benefits from a distinct creative style. In Chapter 5 of my book Teamwork 9.0—Successful Workgroup Problem Solving Using the Enneagram, I use a playground seesaw to illustrate the swings back and forth between inspiration and action for each Enneagram type and to show how each type contributes to problem solving.
Intrinsic motivation underlies each Enneagram type’s creative drive and can be likened to the seesaw’s pivot point—the higher the motivation, the deeper the swings between inspiration and action. Being at the core of the Enneagram’s Thinking or Head types, the underlying issue for Type 6 is anxiety. Type 6s address their anxiety by anticipating and avoiding danger and risk in the future—avoiding risk motivates Type 6.
Enneagram Type 6 Motivation: Anticipating the Future to Avoid Risk
Immersed in their thoughts about the future, the 6 is continuously thinking, what if this happens or what if that happens. From these questions emerge ideas to systematically mitigate or avoid potential risk for themselves and for others in their orbit, finding ways for everyone to feel safe. As a sense of safety pervades, anxiety recedes and the 6 moves along their path of integration. In the integrated state, the 6 exhibits an attentiveness to others’ safety which resembles Type 9’s attentiveness to the peace and harmony of others.
Enneagram Type 6 Inspiration: Envisioning Systems that Reduce Risk for All
Enneagram Type 6 Action: Anxiously Working Their To-Do List
Once the ideas for reducing risk and securing safety emerge, the 6 can become highly focused. Until the 6 implements the ideas and secures safety, anxiety levels remain higher serving as a source of immense productive energy. High anxiety levels represent movement along the path of disintegration, and in this state the 6’s intense focus on getting things done, even at the expense of consideration of others, can resemble the Type 3s focus on achieving goals and realizing success. The rise and fall of anxiety levels represents movement on the paths between Type 9 and Type 3 dynamics and provides the 6 with both inspiration and action on their Creativity Seesaw.
It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. – Henry David Thoreau
Not only do Type 6s scan their space for possible dangers, they also scan time, the future. Their minds can resemble a simulator imagining all different possibilities and what-if scenarios. When 6s are relaxed and not on high alert, they are free to let their minds wander. From these daydreams about the future come inspiration for the 6. Ursula Kroeber Le Guin was an American author best known for her works of speculative fiction, including science fiction works set in her Hainish universe, and the Earthsea fantasy series. I can hardly imagine a more suitable creative pursuit for Type 6 than being a science fiction writer dreaming and writing about the future. And her quote, “The creative adult is the child who survived,” reveals Le Guin’s childhood obsession with avoiding risk and danger and surviving—classic Type 6!
Do the Enneagram Type 6’s in your life dream about the future? Sometimes do you wonder if they are “present?” Do they get anxious and hyper productive when alerted to a possible risk? How do they exercise their creativity to systematize safety?
For more details on each Enneagram type’s creative style, see the following series of blogs:
Enneagram Type 8 Creativity – Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things. – Ray Bradbury