My Favorite Personality Assessment: Enneagram Basics

Building A StoryBrand” by Donald Miller is one of my favorite marketing and general business podcasts.

Guess which type I am?

Guess which type I am?

In The Do’s and Don’ts of Leading Each Enneagram Type, Donald Miller interviews Ian Cron and this is my all-time favorite episode because it focuses on our personality types, teaches us how to showcase our strengths and how to lead other people to showcase theirs and builds a common language so we can better communicate how we prefer to work.

It’s always smarter when we UnPush and work on ourselves instead of trying to makeover everyone else, right?

Have you heard of the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a personality typing system that teaches us that there are nine basic personality styles in the world. These styles, or “types,” deeply influence how we think and act. Not surprisingly, our personalities change in times of comfort and stress and this system reflect that reality. 

There’s a wealth of information that comes from knowing your type and how you perform in ideal situations and in stress.

Who can benefit? Everyone. Whether you’re a solopreneur or managing 10,000 people, you’ll be delighted to understand yourself and others better. Instead of thinking “I can’t work with her!”, you’ll notice she’s coming at the problem entirely differently.

I have a friend who said she used to fight tooth and nail with her boss and they got nowhere until they both took an assessment. They realized he was an ideas guy and floated out 20 ideas a day. Both good and bad. No filter. She was a practical, “is this actually a GOOD idea” woman and tended to shoot down his bad ideas relentlessly. When they learned that he needed to hear “Wow, you’ve been so productive!” and she needed to hear “Thanks for averting disasters!”, they started appreciating each other and the skills they brought to work.

Appreciating each other for our strengths. Win-win.

You can take Cron’s free version of the test here for free to get an idea of the Enneagram type you might be. There’s a longer, more in-depth paid version here at the Enneagram Institute if you get hooked. I’m betting you’ll ask your family and co-workers take it too!

So, why don’t you take the free version and let me know what Enneagram type you are? We’ll exchange notes!

And for personalized instruction in all the Enneagram is, I have a recommendation. Pam Matchie-Thiede is my expert of choice to have long, fascinating conversations about Enneagram types with and learn how each style of personality interact, lead and create. She’s for hire and she will blow your mind with her observations!

Phenomenal Woman

Ruthie Foster is an American singer-songwriter of blues and folk music. She mixes a wide palette of American song forms, from gospel and blues to jazz, folk and soul. She has often been compared to Bonnie Raitt and Aretha Franklin.

Based on the poem Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou, this song lifts me up. Every. Time.

I dedicate this song to you, phenomenal woman (or man who reveres the women in his life as phenomenal).

Bucket List Item #34 (aka Singing Lessons)

Do you keep a bucket list?

It's one of the ways we keep track of our dreams in my program Celebrate You.

Growing up I was pretty sure I couldn't sing.

Sure, I could hold a note on key, but my voice never sounded like a singing voice to me. I woke up with a desire to sing after a conversation with a friend's father, a well-known opera singer. He said that in his experience, anyone could be trained to sing, and he said it with such confidence that I believed him. I tucked that seed of hope into my heart and waited for the right time. Three years ago it sprouted onto my bucket list.

There it was, #34 on my 2014 Bucket List: Singing Lessons.

It was scary to write down. I couldn't imagine actually doing it.

And I didn't.

I re-evaluated that list in 2015. Do I write it again? Am I still drawn toward it? Yes.

Same process in 2016. It made the list a third time. Not many things stick around that long--either I do them or I lost interest in doing them and they disappear.

Singing lessons started to feel important. I started paying attention to coincidences and synchronicities. I collected names of recommended singing teachers. One day when I was feeling brave, I contacted my top pick and we set up a time to get started. Over time my confidence while singing improved. Singing in front of others is still scary as hell, but guess what--I do it!

Here's what I did not see coming:

Singing lessons have been a metaphor for finding my voice in other ways.

Seriously! Expressing myself through song, by opening my mouth and feeling vulnerable, yet still sharing my voice, is empowering me to be brave and speak up in other ways.

I am willing to be heard and willing to be judged.

Who knew that's where singing lessons would lead...

What's been on your bucket list for awhile?

What are you waiting for? I dare you to take a tiny step toward it...

2017 Word of the Year


That's my word for 2017.

I'm defining radiant as expressing love, confidence and happiness and it's the feeling of being aglow, sending out light, shining brightly, dazzling. It inspires me to take what I know in my heart and radiate it outward.

In previous years, I've chosen words like: abundance, live luxuriously, intuition, inspire... and I'm always amazed at how useful each word has been. How the word gives me permission to explore, learn and challenge longstanding beliefs.

I cherish this tradition of choosing a word. Now each member of my family chooses a word, generally around Christmas time. I talk with friends about their words. It's a cool way to have a deep, genuine, ongoing conversation in a new way.

In my program Celebrate You, we spend time honing our intentions for the year before inviting this year's word. We try on a few words, hesitantly, seeing if they fit or if there's another word that feels more right. We share the word in the group and the power of the word increases. We continue to come back to the word each month and share lessons around our word.

What’s your word?

I encourage you to spend a few quiet minutes to find a word you'd like to partner up with this year. Write it down. Refer to it often. Invite a friend to join you. See how it influences your year.

When Pin the Tail on the Donkey isn't Fun

Recently a client described an awkward conversation with a family member like playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey. He was never quite sure where his target was or what he could say to make his point.

This image has stuck with me.

Pin the Tail on the Donkey is a game from childhood, requiring the player to wear a blindfold, get spun around a few times then try to find the picture of the donkey and affix a tail in the correct location.

It's a game of chance and competition. You win, I lose.

It's a game that makes me feel a little jackassy, wandering around dizzy,  holding a donkey tail. It's a game where everyone is watching the player fumble around and laughing. And for perfectionists, fumbling in front of others and wandering around without the tools to succeed is our worst nightmare.

Imagine this person's discomfort in his relationship. He feels like everyone else knows where and how he's supposed to go, while he's only able to guess at where that is. He's feeling a ton of judgement about how he's doing. No wonder he feels unsure.

Have you ever felt like this?


Here's the exercise--take a relationship that's troubling you and find a game it resembles. Is it the old card game War? Monopoly? Boggle?

Then ask yourself why you picked that game. What are the rules you're uncomfortable with? How do you feel as you're playing?

Next, what game would feel better? How could you invite the feeling of playfulness while losing the "me vs. the world" mentality, the rules you don't like and all the perceived judgment from others? Is there a cooperative game that fits?

What if you chose a board game like Cranium or an athletic game like soccer, where you're both on the same team and have different skills? How would visualizing this type of game change how you approached a conversation with a family member?

Spend some time with this and let me know what you come up with.

"Say you're SORRY!"

How many times have you overheard a parent snarl this?

The tone is angry, the underlying message is "Say you're sorry or ELSE" and it's really not about the child expressing regret anymore. It's about the parent feeling out of control or embarrassed or angry about the situation.

Even if she says sorry, is she, in that moment? I'm guessing not. I'd be scared if my parent was mad at me.

What ARE we teaching when we force an apology? To ignore feelings, to lie about reality (everybody knows the kid isn’t sorry!), to decide someone else knows more than our kids about their emotions.

Ouch. That’s not what I want to teach.

But what else can we do? How do kids develop empathy without forcing the "I'm sorry?"

Here’s an idea.

Try this--once they're calmed down, ask both kids how they're feeling and what would make them feel better about what just happened.

With my kids, sometimes that means a promise to not hurt each other or a silly high five or a video of their goofy faces together or drawing a comic together or even a traditional apology.

I'm generally amazed at the ideas they have for what will repair their relationships.

The kids get to practice checking in with each other and deciding what would feel good. They're negotiating, trading ideas, solving their own problems using their words and skills.