Threads & Enneagram Consulting

I think figuring out your life, figuring out what you’re supposed to be doing, “finding the truth for which you can live and die” (Kierkegaard), is sometimes about pulling at threads, following your curiosities. This post is about my own journey, about the threads I’m pulling at, and my curiosities and passions that I’m allowing to roam free.

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Thread #1…

A couple of years ago, I built a house in addition to my day job. It was really like having two full-time jobs. I think I once counted up the hours, and in the average week I was working 45 hours at my real job and almost 40 on the house. It was okay for a season; I have a high capacity for work. But in the end, I felt like it almost killed me. It didn’t, but I’m changed because of it.

A couple of years before that, I engaged in probably the biggest accomplishment of my life: I lost a lot of weight, became a runner (surprise!), and ran my first marathon. I don’t know that there’s been a single day of my life where I’ve felt such a sense of accomplishment as I did on April 27, 2013. I cried as I ran into Memorial Stadium at the University of Illinois toward the finish line.

A couple of years before that, we had babies. Four of them in a 6-year span. And in the middle of that stretch, we left one church, went to another, then left that one to start a church with our friends — the one I’m still leading. And I started a cooking club and rode a couple of “century rides” (a 100+ mile bike ride).

And in the middle of all that, between baby #1 and baby #2, we built our first house — which for numerous reasons was a lot easier than house #2, but hard just the same.

And none of this is to brag or anything like that. I’m telling you all this stuff to say that although I think some people — especially pastors — define themselves by their job, I don’t. Yes, for my whole adult life I’ve led as a pastor in a church, but I’m so much more than that. I’ve always had lots of things going on the side, a lot of “irons in the fire,” so to speak. In fact, I kind of need to have several irons in the fire.

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Thread #2…

A couple of years ago, I was introduced to a new personality tool called the Enneagram. At first, I kind of rolled my eyes because I thought to myself — here we go, another Myers/Briggs, DiSC, Strengthsfinder test, where I’ll be put in a box, told “this is what you’re like,” and it will go into the drawer, just like the others.

Except it didn’t.

As I’ve studied the Enneagram over the last couple of years, it’s become the most formative tool I’ve ever used. It’s helped me understand myself better — why I think the way I think and do the things I do. It’s helped me understand my marriage better — why we “work” and why we sometimes crash up against each other. It’s helped me lead better, I think. And it’s helped me understand how our church leadership functions — why people do and say the things they do, why the dynamics are what they are, both because of the energy I bring into the room as the founding pastor and as the leader and because of the energies others bring into the room.

And while I’m trying not to be the annoying guy who psychoanalyzes everyone and everything, it’s in my head all the time.

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Thread #3…

Back in the spring, I started meeting regularly with two friends of mine, both of whom go to my church but who also who lead businesses. One bought an insurance agency a couple of years ago and the other is a VP at an advertising agency.  Over the last couple of months, the three of us have talked a lot about leadership and about the Enneagram. And I’ve found myself all fired up talking to them and can’t wait until we get together again and talk about what it means to lead well as we grow in our understanding of ourselves and the teams we lead. It’s become one of my most-looked-forward-to meetings on my calendar.

One of those friends told me over breakfast at one of our meetings, “You are so fired up about this; you just seem to light up as we talk. It’s good to see.”

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Which leads me to this…

Early in the Spring, I was talking to my friend Tim Reist. Tim and I have known each other for more than a decade. We worked together for awhile, then he was my boss, then I left that place, and we’ve stayed close since. And we’ve had a lot of the same experiences. We learned the Enneagram together as a spiritual tool, we’ve both received certification as Enneagram instructors through Jerome Wagner, creator of the Wagner Enneagram Personality Style Scales (available online at www.wepss.com), and we both believe it’s a powerful, holistic tool that is useful in BOTH spiritual and business contexts.

Tim and I were having breakfast one morning talking about the Enneagram and how effective a tool it is, and he told me about some consulting work he was doing with a company on the Enneagram. I told him that I was thinking of doing the same kind of thing, which led us to this:

Tim and I are forming a partnership together and are developing a curriculum and coaching business to help leaders and their teams understand themselves better, using the Enneagram, so they can communicate more clearly, make decisions more effectively and thereby improve their culture.

One of the things we’re doing this fall — starting now — is recruiting people for our first cohort.  This will be a group of eight to ten leaders who are willing to sign up and journey together. The experience will entail three 4-hour sessions (October, January, March) with a one-on-one consultation between retreats to help people contextualize what they are learning. And while our focus is on helping businesses, because we both come from the nonprofit world, we hope to work with nonprofits as well.

So, all of this is to say — if you are a leader in the Peoria area, or you’re willing to travel to Peoria a couple of times, we’d love to have you. If you’re just intrigued and want to know more, please email Tim or me; we’d love to pitch you on why we think the Enneagram is the best tool for your sphere of leadership.

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[A note for my fellow Imagoans: I’m not leaving. Sorry, you’re stuck with me. I love teaching and leading our church. I love our Sunday mornings together. I love the push and pull of doing our theology together; doubting, questioning, thinking, deconstructing, reconstructing; it’s all like a drug to me and I’m not going anywhere. So, while I’m going to be doing some new stuff, it will be on the side. And, of course, I’ll be talking about the Enneagram at church as a tool for spiritual transformation (for free!). And as with everything in else in our community, if you have questions, let’s have a coffee.]

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