Welcome to a captivating journey through the intricate landscapes of the mind as we sit down with Jeff King, a seasoned Enneagram Coach and Trainer. In this thought-provoking interview, we’ll delve into the depths of personality, self-discovery, and personal growth, guided by Jeff’s wealth of experience and expertise in the realm of the Enneagram. As we unravel the layers of the Enneagram, Jeff will share insights on how this ancient system of personality typing can serve as a transformative tool for understanding ourselves and others. Join Mystic Mag as we explore the nuances of each Enneagram type, the dance between nature and nurture in shaping our personalities, and the profound impact of self-awareness on our relationships and overall well-being.
How did your personal journey lead you to become an Enneagram Coach and Trainer, and what inspired you to start Transmuto?
The Enneagram is a personality typing system that is used in various sectors. One of the earliest uses of the Enneagram was related to spiritual formation and development, which initially caught my attention. I have been a pastor in various churches in the United States for most of my professional life, and I was introduced to the Enneagram in my pastoral work. I found it to be an insightful and valuable tool for understanding and promoting my personal growth. Additionally, it proved to be beneficial in my work with others, helping them grow in their relationships and spiritual formation while striving to become better individuals. It also helped address recurring habits or issues that often derailed them and hindered their progress in life. The Enneagram offers a valuable perspective in this regard.
Upon discovering its utility, I realized that the Enneagram was a valuable tool for the work I felt called to do. This discovery prompted me to delve deeper into its formal study. Earlier this year, I became a certified Enneagram teacher with the Narrative Enneagram, which is one of the top Enneagram schools and organizations worldwide. That sums up a bit of my journey and how I became involved with the Enneagram.
The Enneagram is a complex and nuanced system. How do you approach teaching it to individuals, and what benefits can people expect to gain from learning about their Enneagram type?
You are absolutely correct in stating that the Enneagram is a complex system because it encompasses various layers and draws from three primary components of our human experience: psychology, spirituality, and the somatic or bodily aspect. It examines how our feelings and belief systems manifest in our bodies. The Enneagram focuses on three main areas: our headspace (thinking), our heart space (feeling), and how we physically act out our behaviors. This complexity delves deep into our core motivations, belief systems, fears, anxieties, and helps us understand how we’ve mapped our approach to life to cope with perceived deficiencies.
It’s also a complex system in terms of how we deal with our fears, motivations, and navigate different aspects of our lives.
When I work with people using the Enneagram, there are several ways for them to discover their Enneagram type. Currently, one of the most popular methods is taking an online Enneagram test, which involves selecting the description that resonates most with you. While these tests have value, I prefer to conduct what we call a “typing interview.” This involves sitting down with an individual for a comprehensive 90-minute discussion, consisting of in-depth questions and answers. During this interview, I work with the individual to unravel the complexities of their own experiences. Many people struggle with tests because they find themselves identifying with multiple boxes at different times. The interview allows us to explore why they behave differently in various situations and discuss the influences on their personality development, such as childhood trauma, religious upbringing, political affiliations, cultural values, and life experiences.
Working through the interview process and later providing one-on-one coaching sessions, I assist individuals in addressing these unique complexities within their own experience.
One common concern people have about systems like the Enneagram is feeling confined or labeled. The Enneagram, however, doesn’t aim to put people in boxes; it respects individual dignity. Instead, it helps individuals recognize the box they might have been unknowingly living in. The Enneagram acts as a flashlight, revealing the structures and worldviews that often go unexamined. Moreover, it allows individuals to understand that there are eight other distinct personality types, each with its own orientation and worldview. This aspect of the Enneagram enables us not only to understand ourselves better but also to recognize how others operate in the world, which can be a powerful tool for personal growth and understanding.
Transmuto’s tagline is “Your Path to Happiness, Hope, and Wholeness.” Could you elaborate on how the Enneagram plays a role in helping individuals find happiness and wholeness in their lives?
We can utilize the Enneagram as a system to provide a map or pathway for exploring how we’ve been living our lives. It helps us identify what’s been holding us back and the repeated habits of belief systems, emotional responses, and behaviors that we keep returning to, often in times of heightened anxiety or stress. Working with the Enneagram offers us a pathway to understand our existing patterns and provides a means to move away from these habits, creating new pathways and expanding our choices. This allows us to make more informed decisions and choices about our behavior, responses, and how we handle our feelings more effectively.
These aspects are key to our happiness, wholeness, and ultimately, they bring hope. I like to encourage people to consider two fundamental goals when working with the Enneagram. The first is to develop a more compassionate and accurate understanding of ourselves. Both accuracy and compassion are crucial because we need to see ourselves as we truly are, even if it can be challenging or lead to feelings of shame and self-doubt. However, by combining an accurate understanding with compassion, we create the opportunity for personal growth, healing, and restoration.
The second goal is to foster an accurate and compassionate understanding of other people, whether they are our close relationships like spouses, children, or parents, or those we work with. This understanding can extend to our community and the world at large. The Enneagram, when taken seriously, can open up possibilities for peace where there has been conflict, restoration in the face of fragmentation, and this can occur within ourselves, our immediate relationships, and even in broader contexts, such as political systems.
In summary, the Enneagram is a very powerful tool that can help us on our journey of self-discovery and improve our relationships with others, promoting greater understanding, compassion, and potential for positive change.
What type of services do you offer?
In my work, I offer a variety of services. I provide training for organizations and groups, conducting a wide range of workshops that cater to different needs. These workshops cover the basics of understanding the Enneagram as well as more advanced approaches to applying and comprehending the entire system. I offer these group presentations to any interested parties, including businesses seeking to improve staff relationships in their workforce and other organizations focused on promoting growth and spiritual formation.
Additionally, I provide individual coaching services, working one-on-one with individuals to help them understand their personality type and structure, and how these tendencies operate in their lives. We also collaborate to establish specific goals and overcome any barriers that may be hindering their progress. I also work with couples, whether they are married, dating, or part of a family structure, to help them enhance and strengthen their relationships. I’ve even facilitated group sessions for entire families, using the Enneagram to improve mutual understanding.
In addition to these services, I continue to offer pastoral support for individuals seeking a specific spiritual path. This includes providing spiritual guidance and conducting ceremonies such as weddings and funerals.
I also work with businesses to assist them in assessing and enhancing the level of trust within their organizations. I am a certified coach in trust assessment, and this service is available on my website. I collaborate with organizations that prioritize trust, and I use the Enneagram as a tool to build trust once we identify areas where they may be lacking in their organizational trust dynamics.
Transmuto offers Enneagram workshops and coaching. Could you describe what participants can expect from one of your workshops and how coaching sessions can help them on their journey to happiness and wholeness?
The benefits of introducing individuals to this system are significant. It provides groups, whether they are organizations, staff, or interested individuals seeking personal growth, with a structured way to understand their personality. This system allows them to identify the challenges and difficulties specific to their personality type, as well as recognize their unique gifts. Understanding these aspects enables them to leverage their strengths for the service of others and enhances their personal satisfaction and enjoyment.
In my workshops, I introduce these concepts, particularly for groups that function as teams. It equips them with a common language to better understand each other and work together effectively. In these presentations, I also create opportunities for self-reflection, aiming for an immersive and experiential learning experience rather than just a lecture. It’s a combination of providing foundational information first, followed by practical applications. I offer these workshops both online, primarily through Zoom, and in-person. While the shift to online teaching due to COVID had its advantages, it also restricted the in-person interactions that I value. I appreciate the in-person format, as it fosters a more energetic and dynamic atmosphere among participants.
So, it’s a blend of informative content, self-reflection, and interactive sessions with plenty of question-and-answer opportunities to engage with one another and deepen the learning experience.
In your opinion, what is the most profound insight or realization that the Enneagram has provided you personally, and how has it influenced your approach to coaching and training others?
I came across the Enneagram when I was around 56 years old, and I was in a period of transition in my pastoral work, moving from one church to another. As part of the onboarding process at my new church, they took us through various inventories and personality systems, including the Enneagram. When I encountered the Enneagram, I was struck by how much it explained about my life and my way of operating. I discovered that I lead with Type 9, which is the Mediator or Peacemaker type. This characteristic is highly useful in the work I do as a pastor, counselor, and mediator. I had been using these qualities without even realizing it, and the Enneagram provided a name for it.
However, I also realized that the Enneagram showed me how I tend to disappear when conflict arises and how I have a tendency to avoid it. This avoidance of conflict extends to my family relationships, where I often disengage when difficult or contentious topics come up. Even though I may still be physically present, I don’t participate in the conversation, leaving others wondering about my stance, my input, and my wisdom.
The Enneagram helped me recognize my fear of conflict and the intricate ways I go about avoiding it while trying to maintain harmony. While this approach is beneficial in many situations, it also limits my ability to be fully present and engaged in relationships. It can be hurtful to those I am in relationships with. Paradoxically, my efforts to avoid conflict often ended up creating more conflict because I wasn’t effectively communicating or offering clarification.
However, the Enneagram has also helped me celebrate and acknowledge my gifts, such as wisdom, a powerful presence, and the ability to ask important questions. It has given me permission and validation to show up more fully in various aspects of my life. I have been working hard to be more present, not only in my work with clients and organizations but also in my marriage, with my children, and with my close friends. This transformation has led to experiencing the closest friendships I’ve ever had in my entire life over the last few years.
The discovery and understanding of my Enneagram type have been life-changing for me, and this is one of the reasons why I’m excited to share it with others.