Self-awareness & prosperitySal­ly 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.