Sally was in her late thirties when she came face-to-face with the realization that she was the obstacle in her quest for prosperity. As a business owner, Sally had worked diligently to grow the business she had started in her home in her late twenties. Ten years later as she looked squarely at her results, she saw that no matter how much the business grew, her personal income wasn’t growing. It was like she had created her own personal glass ceiling. Yes, there were always reasons. But as she looked at her reasons, she realized they were really excuses.
Sally was me. In my late thirties, late one night after the close of another year of growth, I took the time to sit quietly with my results and give them a hard look. My revenue had grown steadily, year over year and yet my net income had plateaued. The business was going up and I was going sideways.
First, I got mad at my team. They weren’t performing. Then, I got mad at the economy. Competition was on the rise and margins were compressed. Then, I took a swipe at my circumstances, I wasn’t a good ole boy and so the system wasn’t supporting me. Finally, I looked in the mirror and found the person who was responsible for my results.
After I came to grips with the realization that I was the one who needed to change, I still didn’t have a clue about what to do differently. So, I took not knowing on as an opportunity and set a clear intention to change my thinking and find my own path to prosperity.
My experience is that a clear and focused intention is like a magnet, that brings to you the skills, support, and knowledge you need to fulfill your intent. It was only a few weeks after setting my intention to find my own path to prosperity, that a friend said to me, “I think you might benefit from studying the Enneagram.” As soon as she said this to me, I had this visceral knowing that she was right. I needed to study the Enneagram.
The Enneagram is a powerful tool for personal and collective transformation. Stemming from the Greek words ennea (nine) and grammos (a written symbol), the nine-pointed Enneagram symbol represents nine distinct strategies for relating to the self, others and the world. Each Enneagram type has a different pattern of thinking, feeling and acting that arises from a deeper inner motivation or worldview.
The enneagram has nothing to do per se with prosperity. It is a tool for greater understanding of yourself, others and the world. At first glance it looks like an odd tool for building a prosperous life.
But here is the catch. You achieve the level of prosperity your self-awareness allows for. In other words, yes, I did in fact create my own glass ceiling, and yes, so do you. You cannot be more prosperous that you believe yourself to be. But there is the bigger secret. Beliefs aren’t always front and center. Sometimes they are hidden. After a while, a belief can become so comfortable, that you forget it is a belief and begin to act as if that is was a truth in the world. From there it forms the frame from which you create your reality.
The way out of limiting beliefs is via self-awareness. While there are many paths to self-awareness, the Enneagram became mine. Through a three year course of study, I became a certified Enneagram teacher in the oral tradition. That study helped me move from being captive to my habits of behaving, thinking and feelings to observing myself. Once I learned to observe my habits of mind, or my old belief system, I was free to choose differently.
I call it inserting a pause. When I was an autopilot, I kept making the same decisions and getting the same results. My results frustrated me, but since I didn’t know how to choose differently, it was a never ending circle. Once I learned to self-observe, I could make new choices. It wasn’t always easy. Change is challenging. But it was simple and more importantly, it freed me up to be all I could be.
In the Enneagram world, I am a 2. Some call this the Helper, some the Giver. The basic world view of a 2 is that if you take care of others they will take care of you. 2’s have a habit of thinking that focuses attention outside of themselves and are often blind to their own needs and desires. 2’s are those people who walk up to you and remove the lint from your shoulder or pick up the item that fell from your purse and return it. That doesn’t sound all bad, and if ordinary 2 behavior stopped there, no one would notice. But it doesn’t. 2’s are also the people who can tell you how to make your life work. They have advice for every season and purpose. Mostly, they don’t ask you if you want their advice, they just give it. For the receiver, it often feels invasive. For the 2, it is exhausting.
As a 2 leader, I would take care of my team, and not ask for what I wanted. Then I would resent them for not giving me what I wanted. It was a vicious cycle with no way to win for either of us.
Through daily mediation, a cornerstone of my self-observation practice, I began to get a handle on my “giving” addiction. I learned to be present to my own needs and ask for what I wanted. I learned to be clear about my boundaries and I learned to keep my mouth shut relative to unsolicited advice. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t a straight path. I fell backwards many times as I was learning my new self-awareness skills. In fact, I still catch myself not being clear about my needs. What I don’t do any more is beat myself up for forgetting to take care of myself. I simply choose again.
Naturally I became more prosperous. Prosperity requires self-care. It requires a willingness to love yourself. For me, the Enneagram was my way of learning to love myself.
While it hasn’t always been easy for me to find that balance between what takes care of me and what takes care of others, I am awake and aware. I also love the truth that I am the only one responsible for my results. If I want something different I am the one who has to create it.
As I mentioned earlier, there are many paths to self awareness. Two favorite teachers of mine are Eckart Tolle and Byron Katie. Two church’s that teach self-awareness are Unity and Centers for Spiritual Living. All these resource help you find your own path to self-awareness, which brings inner peace and wisdom.
The path to true prosperity begins with self-awareness. Enjoy the journey,
PS: You will find a set of tools for self-awareness in your money life in my book, The Intersection of Joy and Money.