What sparks a creative idea in you? What gives you the motivation to follow through on that idea? These can be two distinct and often opposing forces within each of us. How can you tap these forces for your creative engine?
Threat Level Red
Our behaviors vary based on stress levels. For instance, when under stress my anxiety levels rise, and I become hyper focused and highly energized to eliminate the source of the stress. Alternatively, when I’m relaxed, I’m able to let my mind wander, and in that state I tend to think creatively. In other words, in one state I tend to generate ideas and in the other state I am energized to implement ideas.
Stress Levels and the Enneagram
The Enneagram diagram symbolizes changing behaviors under stress by the arrows in the circle. These arrows are commonly called the paths of integration (in the direction of the arrow) and disintegration (opposite direction of the arrow.)
The Enneagram explains my behavioral changes this way: Since I’m a type 6, when my stress levels increase I start behaving more like the focused, productive type 3; when I am relaxed, I behave more like the peaceful, attentive, open-minded type 9.
Each of the nine Enneagram types has a distinct relationship with two other types along the paths of integration and disintegration. In chapter 5 of Teamwork 9.0, I show how stress levels and the movement along those lines can serve as an engine of creativity for each type. One state is more conducive to generating ideas, while the other state is more favorable for acting on ideas. The motion between those two states, like going up and down on a seesaw, serves as a distinct creative engine for each Enneagram type.
Creative Process Steps
How does the creative process work? Using the seesaw a creative process model, here is an example of the creative process that can be used for creative problem solving and innovation:
Stress See: Posed with a problem or challenge, a need arises that you must address.
Calm Saw: You sleep on the problem and, in your calm state, generate a possible solution which occurs to you when you awake or when you are in the shower the next morning.
Stress See: Now you need to implement the proposal by acting on your idea.
Calm Saw: You are relieved that you are making progress, moving towards resolving the problem.
Stress See: You encounter an obstacle preventing you from reaching your goal and requiring that you take a new direction.
Calm Saw: You sleep on the new problem, and so on.
Underlying these up-down dynamics are the motivational drivers for each Enneagram type. These motivations serve as fuel for your creative dynamics—your idea-action behaviors. Here are the nine motivators that I use in my creative process model.
Creativity Motivations by Enneagram Type
|Right wrongs, get things “right”
|Be acknowledged for accomplishments and successes
|Be recognized for unique perspectives
|Collect resources, not be perceived as uninformed
|Know what is going to happen
|Be adored by everyone
|Secure control of the environment
|Eliminate discord in the environment
Under the Hood
Getting to know your Enneagram type will give you insight into your own personal creativity engine. Having that knowledge enables you to tailor your reactions to the needs of your situation. When working with a team, some situations call for ideas and some for action. Knowing your creativity tendencies allows you to maximize your energy and idea contributions to your team and your creativity in the workplace.
Interested in learning more about your own creativity engine? Start by taking the Enneagram test at www.EnneaSurvey.com.