I was introduced to the personality analysis system called the Enneagram a few weeks ago, and it’s been really challenging the way I think about myself and the people I’m around. I’ve been familiar with personality tests (I think they’re fun to do), but the Enneagram takes personality analysis to the next level with incredibly detailed explanations of 8 basic personality types.
So how does this help you in your music career? It helps you understand a little more the reactions of others, and why you might be reacting the way you are to certain pressures. For instance, I was recently working on a publishing deal between two people: I guessed one of the people to be a type 4 and the other person felt like they were close to a type 8 (I’m not good at assessing personality types yet, but I think I was close enough for it to be useful).
Things weren’t going too smoothly, but by understanding a little about the personality types I was able to understand a little more where each personality was coming from. My type 4 friend’s biggest fear according to the Enneagram is “That they have no identity or personal significance”. She was really concerned that the publishing deal would fall through if we didn’t move quickly, and that the music she’d written wouldn’t be remembered.
My type 8 friend’s biggest fear, according to the Enneagram is “being harmed or controlled by others”, and he was reacting this way in the dispute. He was overly concerned that he was going to get ripped off even though that was an unlikely outcome, and told me that he felt he was being manipulated by the other party.
Because I could understand some general motivations for each party I was able to help diffuse the base emotion instead of getting bogged down in the details of the argument. I tried to reassure my type 4 friend that her music is significant, beautiful, and will be successful even if this deal does fall through, and I encouraged her to be patient. I told my type 8 friend that no one wanted to rip him off, and that I’d be with him every step of the way until we reach an agreement that would works for everyone.
It’s not perfect and it’s not the solution for every problem, but understanding the different personality types using the Enneagram structure has helped me understand others better than I have in the past. If you’re in the music industry, I’d encourage you to read through the types and get a basic understanding of each type- you might be amazed how much you’l learn about those around you and your own motivations, and it's a lot of fun!