The Wisdom of the Enneagram: the Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types (1999), by Don Richard Riso, is a comprehensive breakdown of the enneagram framework for understanding the human psyche, which divides people into nine interconnected personality types.
Kitty Poon Ka Lai, founder of Green Skies, a Hong Kong social enterprise that trains young autistic people in rooftop farming, and formerly the managing director of a fashion accessories manufacturer for more than 25 years, tells Richard Lord how it changed her life.
I read the book a long time ago, in 2006. I was a businesswoman for more than 25 years. I got out of that and since then I’ve concentrated on doing social service.
It was a critical time in my life. I was searching for what the meaning of life is. I asked myself: For the rest of your life, how do you want to be?
I came across the book after I did a workshop at my church. I discovered I had a lot of interest in this area, so I found a teacher to teach me more about it, and they recommended this book.
I started learning about the enneagram and really studied its philosophy. I was inspired by the theory and how it could apply to my life. I’ve been learning about it for more than 15 years.
After I studied this book, I was able to meet the author, when I attended a University of Hong Kong seminar he gave. It made me even more interested in this area. I’ve used it for parenting, for my work and also for management.
It’s about your character and how it really affects your life. A lot of people think that they know themselves, but when they look at how their character affects their decisions, they find that they don’t.
When I studied the enneagram, I became aware of my strengths and my limitations. It gave me direction: how to improve my life and how to bring more harmony to it.
I am number nine (of the nine personality types the enneagram mentions), the peacemaker: I don’t want to have conflicts with other people.
When I look really deep down at my character, this is my main strength but it’s also my limitation. I found out that if you only avoid conflicts while not solving the real problems behind them, there’s no harmony.
For example, when people would ask me to go out to dinner on a certain day, without thinking I would say yes, but then regret it. I realised this was a limitation of character, and I cannot always say yes.
I started to have a conversation with myself, and I had the strength to say no. After a few times, I realised this is the real me – I can become happier and achieve targets better.
I learned all this at the age of 50. This book has really changed my life. Some books just give you knowledge. This one is not only about knowledge; it’s also about the transformation of your life. It helped me become a happier person.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.