A Coaching Model Created by Hannah Harrold
(Dual Language Instructional Coach, UNITED STATES)
I am an Enneagram Type Seven with a Six Wing. Type sevens are labeled as “The Enthusiasts”. We are extroverted, high-spirited, and spontaneous, full of big ideas and optimism. Since I was a kid, I have felt proud of my ability to change the energy in a room, to help other people see the silver lining in a dark situation, to move through challenges with a whole lot of hope. I used to be very proud of how willing I was to jump into something new.
But I was also exhausted. Far more exhausted than it seemed like any 30 years old should be. And I was beyond frustrated at my attempts to try to figure out why. I genuinely enjoyed all that I was engaged in (mostly), I felt fulfilled by the many projects I had taken on (and there were many) and I was moving forward fast (admittedly, very fast). What could go wrong? My husband could see this was a recipe for disaster. So could my mother and best friends and a couple of colleagues. But I was having fun (until I wasn’t) and continued to fool myself into thinking this was a sustainable way of life.
Enter: the Enneagram Institute. The Rheti Test explained the shiny “seven” characteristics I had come to appreciate about myself. It also spelled out plain as day that sevens are known to “misapply their many talents, becoming over-extended, scattered and undisciplined”. That they are afraid of being stuck in pain. They are scared of being deprived. They are always on the go, seeking adventure… but not simply because they’re so adventurous and gutsy. (I wanted to be adventurous and gutsy.) It’s because they’re terrified of what will happen if they slow down. So they don’t slow down.
Bingo. I didn’t slow down. I talked fast. Worked fast. Drove fast. Ate fast. Always somewhere different to be, never savoring the space I was in. Then about once every 8 months, my body would slow down for me. I would get sick enough to have to stay in bed for a full three days. Or anxious enough that I found myself retreating to the nearest bathroom to finish my panic attack in peace. I went through cycles of drinking far too much coffee, then cutting it out cold turkey because an ounce of caffeine sent my hands trembling and heart racing. The cycle would start over.
If I am not careful, very careful, I still fall into that pattern. Coaching has taught me to notice my speed. My rate of speech, the number of breaths I do or don’t take in a minute. The velocity at which my thoughts move through my brain. The coaching space serves as an opportunity for self-reflection. Am I present? Am I content? What am I afraid of? What am I running from? Am I noticing what I have now at this moment?
Do I savor it?
It’s hard for me to savor, be it a moment, a thought, or a bite of pasta. I have to work hard ‘to savor’ and I find many of my clients do, too. Thus, the Coaching Model I have developed serves both me and my clients. It reminds me to slow down, to be where my feet are both in body and spirit. And in setting the tone for myself, I establish a framework for my clients to do the same.
If I want my clients to be present, I need to be present. That starts with slowing down. This step has to come first.
Sevens often avoid our discomfort. As a client in a coaching session, this looks like skipping over the stuff that is hardest to say, even when we sense something is buried deep underneath. This focus on articulation encourages the client to bring to light all that needs to be said. To label it. To give it a name. To be specific about what it is and the purpose it serves. As a coach, it reminds me to be certain I dismiss any inklings of my agenda to move things ahead before it is time.
It is within this step that my ‘seven-ness’ serves me well rather than a hindrance. Sevens are generally skilled at considering multiple perspectives. They find value in understanding how others see the world because it makes any given situation more complex and interesting. My power tool of Proximity vs. Distance engages with this idea of “vacillating”, encouraging clients to consider their closeness to the presenting problem. The client is supported to view the situation through multiple lenses and from several angles. As they do, the Proximity vs. Distance power tool asks them to consider if moving toward or away from the problem could bring greater insight or options.
When the client has had an opportunity to vacillate around the situation, he or she is ready to determine what in the situation is his or hers to own. This ownership gives a great deal of power back to the client. It encourages him or her toward action and accountability. And as a coach, I am reminded of what is mine to own in the session, too. I mustn’t hold onto what the client brings. I mustn’t try to move the client to a space of optimism or silver linings. I must move in the direction of what the client wishes to own and own my role within the coaching partnership.
Sevens can be reactionary by nature which can be difficult for coaches needing to support their clients to respond vs. react. This final focus on responding ensures that as a coach, I don’t get stuck in more “engaging” brainstorming stages of coaching with my client. Intentionally focusing on what the client’s response will be supporting the development of a complete action plan that moves the client forward toward success rather than forward in avoidance of pain.
Type Seven. (2019). The Enneagram Institute. https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-7