Welcome to Indy Maven’s Enneagram column coming by way of Jenn Lisak Golding of Uncovered Gems. Check out her website for even more info from the world of Enneagram, or to book a private session.
The first thing you need to know about wings is that they represent the Enneagram types on either side of your type. For example, if you are a Type 9, then your wing would either be 9w1 or 9w8. Your wing must be one of the types on either side of your number; there is no such thing as a 3w8 or 5w1.
I really enjoy how Enneagram Universe describes wings:
“The Enneagram wings heavily influence our behavior. Maybe seeing them as just neighbor types make us think they are a big part of our personality, but it’s quite the opposite. Wings are like river waters flowing into the ocean.”
What they mean by this is that our neighboring types flow into our Enneagram type. We are influenced by them, and it adds to the complexity of our personality. They are not detached but rather connected in a fluid way.
While many tend to default to one of their wings, the reason why we call them wings is because you are meant to tap into both to support your growth. Wings can help you “fly”; if you only use one wing, then you are not leveraging all the tools at your disposal. For example, I am a 2w3. I lean heavily into my Type 3 wing; I care about being seen as successful, I am driven and ambitious, and I also can easily adapt to social situations like many 3s can. However, in my younger years, I tapped into my Type 1 wing a lot more, where I was very focused on perfectionism and doing things the right way. I like to say that I’m a “recovering perfectionist” and have tempered my Type 1 wing a bit because it wasn’t always helping me in the healthiest ways at the time. However, I also didn’t have the knowledge that I have now to know how to leverage the healthy aspects of Type 1. Now, I work hard to have a good blend of both Type 1 and 3 incorporated into my life to make good life choices.
Over time, you may lean more into one wing than the other—or you may even switch your lean to your other wing as I did—and that’s ok! The goal, though, is for you to really leverage the strengths of both your wings to grow. This is especially true if one of your wings lies in a different center space (e.g., head versus heart versus body). While Types 2 and 3 live in the heart center, Type 1 lives in the body center. As I continue on my self-growth journey, I need to be mindful of how my 1 wing could help me be more decisive and focus on the right ways to do things and not just that things are done.
If you’re unsure which wing you use more, then you may be pulling from both equally, which is a great practice. To help identify which wing you might be leveraging more, I’ve included a short guide below. Please keep in mind that these are short descriptions, and since humans are multi-faceted, all of these characteristics might not resonate with you.
Regardless of whether you feel more comfortable with one wing or the other, they are both there to guide you and help tap into your potential. Listen to them. Learn the healthy aspects of the wing types and how to leverage them for your own growth. The more you use both, the more you can fly.
Jenn Lisak Golding is a certified Enneagram coach through The Art of Growth and the face behind Uncovered Gems. She is also the founder and owner of the sister brand Sapphire Strategy, a measured marketing agency. As a long-time fan of emotional intelligence, Jenn is passionate about helping individuals, teams, and leaders grow personally and professionally on their growth journeys.
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