July 2010

Entering the crazy. You could speculate that this statement pertains to my future scholarly endeavors, my general view of living life, or how I engage with specific individuals who are legitimately crazy, delusional, or random. All of these would be correct at one point or another. However, when it comes to my job, the last illustration fits the bill.

Through my time teaching, I discovered creative techniques to reach certain students. In the past months, I constructed a rhyme to help a student remember the letter Mm (Moose make Mondays marvelous mostly in the month of May!), switched topics frequently to keep a six-year-old’s attention span in tact, or personify letters of the alphabet. However, these actions are not bizarre or odd. By creative, I mean genuinely ridiculous actions that my closest friends describe as “entering the crazy.”

Three particular events float to my mind that typify entering the crazy to reach a student. The student is Delphi, an energetic eight-year-old with several undiagnosed learning disabilities. No matter the root cause, any student struggling with school work needs loads of patience and inventive teaching and learning techniques. For Delphi, I entered her crazy to get her to attempt her assignments, remember the material, or listen to me. Here are my stories:

1) One evening, Delphi arrived for tutoring. As I arranged her books, white board, and manipulatives, she began growling at me in a friendly but feline tone. Pursing my lips, I looked up and she translated, “I speak Tiger. Roaw, grrrr, purr.” Amused and unsure what to do or how to get her to desist, I thought for a minute then said, “Delphi, I only speak English. I don’t speak Tiger. I’ll need your help. Can you translate for me?” She nodded promptly growled a bit more, but continued the English translation for me for the hour.

2) Disciplining Delphi is frustrating. She frequently misbehaves or refuses to work and on one occasion she threw a market at me and the other student at the table. Her outbursts are rooted in frustration and embarrassment due to her self-awareness of her age and reading level. But asking her questions, saying “I need you to do ___,” or taking away her tokens does not always correct her behavior. Out of sheer desperation, I tried the mom count. One…Two…Three…. I had no idea what I would do when I arrived at three, but by the time I uttered the final number, she began to work. I realized the mom count worked! Future counting had consequences such as removing tokens or talking to her mother, but for now counting sets a boundary with how far I will acquiesce her crazy.

3) Another particular situation arose in which Delphi would sit at the table and cover her ears, declaring that she cannot hear what I was saying. I raised my eyebrows and began mouthing words with full facial expression and hand gestures. I mouthed something along the lines of “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.” She cocked her head, removed her hands and said, “I can’t hear you.” I shook my head and replied, “Well, that is because your ears were covered.” She covered her ears several more times, and I continued to mouth words. Questioningly, she put her hands down and I asked, “Can you hear me now?” “Yes.” she complied. “Good,” I said, “Now let’s get to work.”

**Delphi is currently under going testing for her learning disabilities.


Last year as I was gearing up for mentoring, a fellow trainee mentioned he used a plane ticket search engine, Booking Buddy, to purchased a super inexpensive plane ticket to the Middle East. I checked it out and found my own $800 round trip ticket to Africa.

Booking Buddy operates as a one stop shopping site. You enter your departure date and location and Booking Buddy provides tabs with different travel agencies (Cheap Tickets, Vayama, British Airways, Cheap Fare Guru, Expedia, Orbitz…) that you can select and receive quotes.

I will admit the website is best suited for flights originating from the United States, but they do have a few tabs that connect to sites providing international departures.

So if anyone is in the market for cheap airfare, and by cheap, I mean super cheap, then check it out!

Before a morning hour began this summer, Ariana was pulling books and looked up at Praia and me and commented, “Yesterday, I tested the most interesting student I have ever had. I really hope she comes here, because she is so funny!”

Praia and I were hooked. “What did she do?” We inquired.

“Well, she is in fourth grade and corrected the subject/verb agreement on the interest inventory sheet from ‘My pet is a ____ and its name is_____’ to ‘My pets are cats. Their names are Max, Princess, Orphine, Bob.’  After she did this, she remarked that she corrects people’s grammar and it annoys them, but she still does it.”

She continued, “On the inventory, she wrote that someday she would like to be  ‘a dirt fairy artist.’ I asked her what that is and she looked up at me and said, ‘I have a website. You can look on the website to learn about dirt fairies.’ Oh, and she has a lisp, so it all comes out with an extra ‘th’ attached to the word. But the best part was that she said that I may call her ‘Nightingale’ because she loves to sing and then she burst into song. It was great.”

Praia and I were laughing hysterically as Ariana acted out this little girls theatrics.

Shaking her head, Ariana said that the girl scored a superior on her vocabulary and reading comprehension, the highest we give. She also thinks the student is at an eighth or ninth grade reading level because her vocabulary and diction were impeccable.

Praia smirked and said, “Looks like a GT kid.”

I wondered what in the world is the little girl reading and that she might be my clone.

Before our students came in, Ariana finished her description with their farewell scene. The student turned, nodded, and said to Ariana, “I think we shall be friends outside of tutoring.”

Never in my life have I ever wanted a student to come and for me to have them. It would be ridiculous!! She is signed up for math, so perhaps I will interact with our Sylvan songbird sometime this summer.

I love personality tests. I think they are fascinating, usually accurate for me in the place and role I exist in at the time. Through my university and seminary days I have been a lion, ESTJ, blue/green, input/achiever/learner/intellect/responsibility, type one – reformer, and a host of other type A/alpha female/driven personality types. As I said, they are usually accurate. Reflecting upon responsibilities and requirements on me through Baylor and Truett, I can see the lion/self motivated/leader side of me, but I can also see the complete intellect/learner nerd that lives in her study carrell. If you ever travel with me, you realize you are with an input, so prepare yourself for a six-hour museum visit. Yes, I do read all the signs and if they are in French I stand there and translate them. Until recently, I believed the Strengths Quest (input…) test was the most authentic portrait of Suzanne. I did take it as a sophomore, so I have matured and relaxed a considerable amount since 2002. However, a few weeks ago a close friend and social worker told me about the Enneagram test. On a whim, I took the short test and came out a “type one – reformer.” I think the description of this personality fits me exactly as I am in the summer of 2010, or at least how I perceive myself. Here are the results. Let me know if you think they are faithful to the Suzanne you know.

The Rational, Idealistic Type:
Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic

Type One in Brief

Ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. They typically have problems with resentment and impatience. At their Best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. Can be morally heroic.

  • Basic Fear: Of being corrupt/evil, defective
  • Basic Desire: To be good, to have integrity, to be balanced
  • Enneagram One with a Nine-Wing: “The Idealist”
  • Enneagram One with a Two-Wing: “The Advocate”

Key Motivations: Want to be right, to strive higher and improve everything, to be consistent with their ideals, to justify themselves, to be beyond criticism so as not to be condemned by anyone.

The Meaning of the Arrows (in brief)

When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), methodical Ones suddenly become moody and irrational at Four. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), angry, critical Ones become more spontaneous and joyful, like healthy Sevens. For more information, click here.

Examples: Mahatma Gandhi, Hilary Clinton, Al Gore, John Paul II, Elliot Spitzer , Sandra Day O’Connor, John Bradshaw, Bill Moyers, Martha Stewart, Ralph Nader, Katherine Hepburn, Harrison Ford, Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Fonda, Meryl Streep, George Harrison, Celene Dion, Joan Baez, George Bernard Shaw, Noam Chomsky, Michael Dukakis, Margaret Thatcher, Rudolph Guliani, Jerry Brown, Jane Curtin, Gene Siskel, William F. Buckley, Kenneth Starr, The “Church Lady” (Saturday Night Live), and “Mr. Spock” (Star Trek).

Type One Overview

We have named personality type One The Reformer because Ones have a “sense of mission” that leads them to want to improve the world in various ways, using whatever degree of influence they have. They strive to overcome adversity—particularly moral adversity—so that the human spirit can shine through and make a difference. They strive after “higher values,” even at the cost of great personal sacrifice.

History is full of Ones who have left comfortable lives to do something extraordinary because they felt that something higher was calling them. During the Second World War, Raoul Wallenburg left a comfortable middle-class life to work for the protection of thousands of European Jews from invading Nazis. In India, Gandhi left behind his wife and family and life as a successful lawyer to become an itinerant advocate of Indian independence and non-violent social changes. Joan of Arc left her village in France to restore the throne to the Dauphin and to expel the English from the country. The idealism of each of these Ones has inspired millions.

Ones are people of practical action—they wish to be useful in the best sense of the word. On some level of consciousness, they feel that they “have a mission” to fulfill in life, if only to try their best to reduce the disorder they see in their environment.

Although Ones have a strong sense of purpose, they also typically feel that they have to justify their actions to themselves, and often to others as well. This orientation causes Ones to spend a lot of time thinking about the consequences of their actions, as well as about how to keep from acting contrary to their convictions. Because of this, Ones often persuade themselves that they are “head” types, rationalists who proceed only on logic and objective truth. But, the real picture is somewhat different: Ones are actually activists who are searching for an acceptable rationale for what they feel they must do. They are people of instinct and passion who use convictions and judgments to control and direct themselves and their actions.

In the effort to stay true to their principles, Ones resist being affected by their instinctual drives, consciously not giving in to them or expressing them too freely. The result is a personality type that has problems with repression, resistance, and aggression. They are usually seen by others as highly self- controlled, even rigid, although this is not how Ones experience themselves. It seems to them that they are sitting on a cauldron of passions and desires, and they had better “keep the lid on” lest they and everyone else around them regret it.

Cassandra is a therapist in private practice who recalls the difficulty this caused her in her youth.

“I remember in high school getting feedback that I had no feelings. Inside, I felt my feelings intensely and yet I just couldn’t let them out as intensely as I felt them. Even now, if I have a conflict with a friend and need to address an issue, I rehearse ahead of time how to express clearly what I want, need, and observe, and yet, not be harsh or blaming in my anger which is often scathing.”

Ones believe that being strict with themselves (and eventually becoming “perfect”) will justify them in their own eyes and in the eyes of others. But by attempting to create their own brand of perfection, they often create their own personal hell. Instead of agreeing with the statement in Genesis that God saw what He had created, “and it was good,” Ones intensely feel that “It wasn’t—there obviously have been some mistakes here!” This orientation makes it difficult for them to trust their inner guidance—indeed, to trust life—so Ones come to rely heavily on their superego, a learned voice from their childhood, to guide them toward “the greater good” which they so passionately seek. When Ones have gotten completely entranced in their personality, there is little distinction between them and this severe, unforgiving voice. Separating from it and seeing its genuine strengths and limitations is what growth for Ones is about.

(from The Wisdom of the Enneagram, p. 99-100)

Excerpt from Type One ITAR (4:52 minutes)

Buy the Individual Type Audio Recording of Type One—Click Here

Type One—More Depth by Level

Healthy Levels

Level 1(At Their Best): Become extraordinarily wise and discerning. By accepting what is, they become transcendentally realistic, knowing the best action to take in each moment. Humane, inspiring, and hopeful: the truth will be heard.

Level 2: Conscientious with strong personal convictions: they have an intense sense of right and wrong, personal religious and moral values. Wish to be rational, reasonable, self-disciplined, mature, moderate in all things.

Level 3: Extremely principled, always want to be fair, objective, and ethical: truth and justice primary values. Sense of responsibility, personal integrity, and of having a higher purpose often make them teachers and witnesses to the truth.

Average Levels

Level 4: Dissatisfied with reality, they become high-minded idealists, feeling that it is up to them to improve everything: crusaders, advocates, critics. Into “causes” and explaining to others how things “ought” to be.

Level 5: Afraid of making a mistake: everything must be consistent with their ideals. Become orderly and well-organized, but impersonal, puritanical, emotionally constricted, rigidly keeping their feelings and impulses in check. Often workaholics—”anal-compulsive,” punctual, pedantic, and fastidious.

Level 6: Highly critical both of self and others: picky, judgmental, perfectionistic. Very opinionated about everything: correcting people and badgering them to “do the right thing”—as they see it. Impatient, never satisfied with anything unless it is done according to their prescriptions. Moralizing, scolding, abrasive, and indignantly angry.

Unhealthy Levels

Level 7: Can be highly dogmatic, self-righteous, intolerant, and inflexible. Begin dealing in absolutes: they alone know “The Truth.” Everyone else is wrong: very severe in judgments, while rationalizing own actions.

Level 8: Become obsessive about imperfection and the wrong-doing of others, although they may fall into contradictory actions, hypocritically doing the opposite of what they preach.

Level 9: Become condemnatory toward others, punitive and cruel to rid themselves of “wrong-doers.” Severe depressions, nervous breakdowns, and suicide attempts are likely. Generally corresponds to the Obsessive-Compulsive and Depressive personality disorders.

Learn More

  • Overview of Type One from Personality Types (over 2,500 words)
  • Expanded Descriptions of each type are available to purchasers of the online RHETI Enneagram test. These 2,800+ word descriptions contain new material on relationships, personal growth, the Levels of Development, and more.
  • The Riso-Hudson Books offer the most complete type descriptions available anywhere. Personality Types is the most complete, in-depth, systematic treatment of the nine types and the Enneagram system as a whole, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram provides the comprehensive guide to psychological and spiritual growth for the nine personality types.

More about Type Ones and