Creativity for the Enneagram’s Thinking types emanates from their thoughts.  Here we examine the creativity of Enneagram Type 5.

Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought. – Albert Einstein


Enneagram Type 5 has easy access to both inspiration and action along the Paths of Integration and Disintegration.  Under stress or disintegration, Type 5 moves into Type 7 dynamics and receives inspiration.  When feeling confident and moving along the path of integration, Type 5 accesses Type 8 dynamics, the type most easily identifiable with confident action.

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

Creativity Seesaw

The creative process can be represented by swings back and forth between inspiration and action. In Chapter 5 of my book Teamwork 9.0—Successful Workgroup Problem Solving Using the Enneagram, I use the seesaw as a metaphor for the swings between inspiration and action for each Enneagram type’s distinct creative process.

Intrinsic motivation underlies each Enneagram type’s creative drive and can be likened in this metaphor to the seesaw’s pivot point. Like the height of the pivot point, the stronger the motivation the deeper the swings between inspiration and action.  Being one of the Enneagram’s Thinking or Head types, the underlying issue for Type 5 is anxiety; Type 5s have anxiety about appearing uninformed.

Enneagram Type 5 Motivation:  Avoid Appearing Uninformed

Driven by this anxiety, Enneagram Type 5s are motivated to absorb vast amounts of information.  As anxiety rises, the 5 can move along the path of disintegration towards Type 7 dynamics.  And while Type 7s are concerned about whether they are liked by others, Type 5 can be anxious about their relationship with information itself.   This anxiety drives them to absorb and understand the information deeply.

Enneagram Type 5 Inspiration:  Assimilating Information and Ideas

Enneagram Type 5 Action: Asserting Knowledge

Once they have mastered the information and the object of their studies, anxiety will subside and Type 5 moves along the path of integration whereby they can express Type 8 dynamics and confidently assert their mastery of the subject matter, especially to those peers who will appreciate their deep understanding.  Type 5 will often arrange information in novel ways thereby advancing understanding within the field of study.

Should peers push back on the Type 5’s understanding, anxiety rises and the 5 is compelled to push further and deeper on their understanding of the subject. In much the same way as anxiety compels Type 7s to improve their standing with others, anxiety compels Type 5s to improve their understanding of their target information.  In this way the 5 swings back and forth between Type 7 dynamics and Type 8 dynamics, inspiration and action,  on their Creativity Seesaw.

Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.
– Leo Burnett

I highlight this Leo Burnett quote for two reasons.  Firstly, Burnett inserts “I think,” evidence of a Thinking type.  Also, Type 5s amuse themselves by making caricatures in their thoughts.  Burnett is famous for his iconic advertising characters, like the Jolly Green Giant, the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Keebler Elves and Kellogg Fruit Loop’s Toucan Sam, among others.  What a perfect creative role for Type 5!

What do the Enneagram Type 5s in your life study deeply?  In what venues do they display their knowledge?


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