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The Busy, Variety-Seeking type:
Spontaneous, Versatile, Acquisitive, and Scattered
For more about the meaning of the arrows, see below.
Type Seven in Brief
Sevens are extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can also misapply their talents, becoming over-extended, scattered, and undisciplined. They constantly seek new and exciting experiences but can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. They typically have problems with impatience and impulsiveness. At their Best: they focus their talents on worthwhile goals, becoming appreciative, joyous, and satisfied.
- Basic Fear: Of being deprived and in pain
- Basic Desire: To be satisfied and content—to have their needs
- Enneagram Seven with a Six-Wing: “The Entertainer”
- Enneagram Seven with an Eight-Wing: “The Realist”
Key Motivations: They want to maintain their freedom and happiness, avoid missing out on worthwhile experiences, and keep themselves excited and occupied to avoid and discharge pain.
The Meaning of the Arrows (in brief)
When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), scattered Sevens suddenly become perfectionistic and critical at One. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), gluttonous, scattered Sevens become more focused and fascinated by life, like healthy Fives.
Examples: John F. Kennedy, Benjamin Franklin, Leonard Bernstein, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Elizabeth Taylor, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Steven Spielberg, Federico Fellini, Richard Feynman, Timothy Leary, Robin Williams, Jim Carey, Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Bette Midler, Chuck Berry, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Gianni Versace, Liza Minelli, Joan Collins, Malc olm Forbes, Noel Coward, Sarah Ferguson, Larry King, Joan Rivers, Regi s Philbin, Howard Stern, John Belushi, and “Auntie Mame” (Mame).
Type Seven Overview
We have named this personality type The Enthusiast because Sevens are enthusiastic about almost everything that catches their attention. They approach life with curiosity, optimism, and a sense of adventure, like “kids in a candy store” who look at the world in wide-eyed, rapt anticipation of all the good things they are about to experience. They are bold and vivacious, pursuing what they want in life with a cheerful determination. They have a quality best described by the Yiddish word “chutzpah”—a kind of brash “nerviness.”
Although Sevens are in the Thinking Center, this is not immediately apparent because they tend to be extremely practical and engaged in many projects at any given time. Their thinking is anticipatory: they foresee events and generate ideas “on the fly,” favoring activities that stimulate their minds, causing more things to do and think about. Sevens are not necessarily intellectual or studious by any standard definition, although they are often intelligent and can be widely read and highly verbal. Their minds rush from one idea to another, making Sevens gifted at brainstorming and synthesizing information. Sevens are exhilarated by the rush of ideas and the pleasure of being spontaneous, preferring broad overviews and the excitement of the initial stages of the creative process to probing a single topic in depth.
Devon, a successful businesswoman, shares with us some of the inner workings of her Seven mindsets.
“I am definitely a list person. It’s not really for memory since I have a great memory. It’s more for down-loading information so that my mind won’t spin on it. For example, I was at a concert where the tickets were hard to get and very expensive. I couldn’t sit through it. My mind was torturing me with the things I needed to do. Finally, I had to get up and leave. This was very upsetting to the person I went with and I missed a good show.”
Sevens are frequently endowed with quick, agile minds and can be swift learners. This is true of their ability to absorb information (language, facts, and procedures) and learn new manual skills—they tend to have excellent mind-body coordination and manual dexterity (typewriting, piano playing, tennis). All this can combine to make a Seven into the quintessential “Renaissance person.”
Ironically, Sevens’ wide-ranging curiosity and ability to learn quickly can also create problems for them. Because they can pick up many skills relatively quickly, deciding what to do with themselves becomes more challenging. As a result, they also do not always value their abilities as they would if they had to struggle to gain them. However, when Sevens are more balanced, their versatility, curiosity, and ability to learn can lead them to extraordinary achievement.
The root of their problem is common to all types of Thinking Centers: they are out of touch with their essential nature’s inner guidance and support. As with Fives and Sixes, this creates deep anxiety in Sevens. They do not feel they know what to do or how to make choices that benefit themselves and others. Sevens cope with this anxiety in two ways. First, they try to keep their minds busy all of the time. As long as Sevens can keep their minds occupied, especially with projects and positive ideas for the future, they can, to some extent, keep anxiety and negative feelings out of conscious awareness. Likewise, since their thinking is stimulated by activity, Sevens are compelled to stay on the go, moving from one experience to the next, searching for more stimulation. This is not to say that Sevens are “spinning their wheels.” They generally enjoy being practical and getting things done.
Frances, a successful business consultant, sounds more energetic than is humanly possible—and yet, she is a typical Seven:
“I am highly, highly productive. At the office, I am joyful and my mind is running at its best. I might create several marketing campaigns for a client, work on the outline for an upcoming seminar, talk out a difficult problem with a client on the telephone, close two deals, make a project list, dictate a few letters and look up to see that it’s 9:30 a.m. and my assistant is coming in to start our work for the day.”
Second, Sevens cope with the loss of Essential guidance by using the “trial and error” method: they try everything to ensure they know what is best. On an intense level, Sevens do not feel they can find what they want. Therefore, they tend to try everything—and may even resort to anything as a substitute for what they are looking for. (“If I can’t have what will satisfy me, I’ll enjoy myself anyway. I’ll have all kinds of experiences—that way, I will not feel bad about not getting what I want.”)
We can see this in action even in the most trivial areas of their daily lives. Unable to decide whether he wants vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry ice cream, Seven will enjoy all three flavors to ensure he does not miss out on the “right” choice. Having two weeks for a vacation and a desire to visit Europe brings a similar plight. Which countries and cities to visit? Which sites to see? The Seven’s way of dealing with this will be to cram as many different countries, cities, and attractions into his vacation as possible. While they are scrambling after exciting experiences, the real object of their heart’s desire (their personal Rosebud, as it were) may be so deeply buried in their unconscious that they are never really aware of precisely what it is.
Furthermore, as Sevens speed up their pursuit of whatever seems to offer freedom and satisfaction, they tend to make worse choices, and they are less able to be satisfied because everything is experienced indirectly through the dense filter of their fast-paced mental activity. The result is that Sevens end up anxious, frustrated, and enraged, with fewer resources available to them physically, emotionally, or financially. They may ruin their health, relationships, and finances in their search for happiness.
Gertrude is busy establishing her career and family now, but she looks back at how this tendency contributed to her getting a rough start in life.
“There wasn’t anything to do at home or in the tiny Southern town I grew up in. I was dying to get out of it and go someplace more exciting. When I was 16, I started dating, and before long I got pregnant, but the father didn’t want to marry me—which was okay since I didn’t want to marry him, either. It wasn’t too long before I found somebody else, and we got married, and I got to move to a larger city. But it didn’t really work out the way I wanted because after I had the baby, we broke up and I had to move back home. I stayed there for a year or two to get my feet on the ground. When things were looking bleak, I married someone else. I’m 19 now and I guess I’ve done a lot already.”
On the positive side, however, Sevens are extremely optimistic people—exuberant and upbeat. They are endowed with abundant vitality and a desire to participate in their lives each day fully. They are naturally cheerful and good-humored, not taking themselves too seriously. As we have seen, the Basic Desire of Sevens is to be satisfied, happy, and fulfilled. When balanced within themselves, their joy and enthusiasm for life naturally affect everyone around them. They remind us of the pure pleasure of existence—the greatest gift of all.
(from The Wisdom of the Enneagram, p. 262-264)
- Do you immediately start looking for solutions when presented with a problem, even if it belongs to someone else?
- Can you talk to anyone? Do people seek you out at dinner parties and other social occasions? Were you the most popular kid in school?
- Do people often comment on how “gifted” you are?
Tips for dealing with the negative side of the dreamer type:
- Make it a specific goal to follow through on one task from beginning to end.
- Recognize that having multiple projects on the go at one time can be a way of trying to escape from reality.
- Stop thinking that anyone who disagrees with you is criticizing you. Constructive criticism is often helpful.
If you find yourself acting eccentrically or living in a fantasy, embrace your real life, find reasons to be optimistic, and radiate good cheer.