Each Enneagram type brings a distinct creative contribution to problem solving and teamwork. Here we examine the creativity of Enneagram Type 4.

Everything you can imagine is real. –Pablo Picasso


The creative process requires both inspiration and action, and each Enneagram type can access these two dynamics along the Enneagram’s Paths of Integration and Disintegration.  Under stress or disintegration, Type 4 receives inspiration towards Type 2 dynamics.  When feeling less stress towards integration, Type 4 moves towards the dynamics of Type 1 becoming more productive.

Direction of arrow is path of integration; opposite of arrow is path of disintegration

Creativity Seesaw

Chapter 5 in my book Teamwork 9.0—Successful Workgroup Problem Solving Using the Enneagram describes the creativity gifts of each Enneagram type. I use the seesaw as a metaphor for the alternating motion between inspiration and action during the creative process, motion which serves as an engine for each type’s creativity.

Each Enneagram type’s intrinsic motivation underlies each type’s creative drive. The seesaw’s fulcrum represents intrinsic motivation. The higher the motivation, like the height of the fulcrum, the deeper the swings between inspiration and action.  For Type 4, the intrinsic motivation is feeling everything, especially what is missing.

Enneagram Type 4 Motivation:  Feel Everything; Pine for What’s Missing

Enneagram Type 4s feel the emotional content of everything. They are moved by sunlight falling on a wall, the gentle motion of a leaf in a light breeze, the sounds of people breathing in a room—quite literally everything!  Additionally, they have intense pining feelings for what is missing from their environment.  I liken this pining to movement along their path of disintegration towards the dynamics of Type 2.  Type 2s have the ability to perceive what is missing for others and to deliver that missing piece in a helpful way. And while the 2 is focused on what is missing for others, the 4 perceives what is missing in general—not only for themselves and for others, but for the world as a whole.

Enneagram Type 4 Inspiration:  Intense Feeling for What is Missing

Enneagram Type 4 Action: Uniquely Expressing the Void

Not only can Type 4s feel everything, they also understand how others are feeling and reacting emotionally.  Often the 4 understands how others are feeling better than they themselves!  This ability enables the 4 to communicate in emotionally impactful ways, not only with words, but also with music, film, art, poetry, etc.  As the 4 moves along the path of integration towards Type 1 dynamics, they can develop a righteous need to communicate what is missing as a way of filling the void.  And, they communicate in a way that will impact others emotionally—perhaps even leaving them speechless.

Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye. – Dorothy Parker

Should the Type 4s message not land with their audience, not have the desired emotional impact, the 4 will teeter back towards disintegration and intense feelings for how to better, more emotionally intensely communicate their message. And so does the Enneagram Type 4 teeter-totter on their creativity seesaw.

For what do the Enneagram Type 4s in your life pine?  How does their pining manifest into communication?  Do they use words or other forms to communicate in emotionally impactful ways?

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