Barack and Michele

Barack and Michele by Elizabeth Wagele

In Part 1, we saw Obama’s connection to the 3 Enneagram types that form a triangle: types 3-Achiever, 6-Questioner, and, especially, 9-Peace Seeker.

After two years of college at Occidental in California, Obama applied to Columbia in New York. He still felt insecure, wondering where he belonged, and compared himself to his 3-ish father. “I imagined my father sitting at his desk in Nairobi, a big man in government, with clerks and secretaries bringing him papers to sign, a minister calling him for advice, a loving wife and children waiting for him at home, his own father’s village only a day’s drive away. The image made me vaguely angry, and I tried to set it aside, concentrating instead on the sound of salsa music coming from an open window down the block. The same thoughts kept returning to me, though, as persistent as the beat of my heart."

“Where did I belong?” He asks himself. And a little later, realizes: “What I needed was a community, I realized, a community that cut deeper than the common despair that black friends and I shared when reading the latest crime statistics, or the high fives I might exchange on the basketball court. A place where I could put down stakes and test my commitments.”

Belonging and a sense of community are important to 9-Peace Seekers. Obama struggled between his desire for authenticity and the lure of prestige, as exemplified by the 3-Achiever: his idea of his father, fast cars, beautiful clothes, and so on. Then he decided to go to Chicago and become an organizer to help the poor. Type 9 and its idealistic 1-Perfectionist wing won over type 3. He conquered his waffling and his 6-like fear and made an important decision.

Belonging continued to be an issue, however. He started working in poor neighborhoods. ”Wandering through…tough neighborhoods, my fears were always internal: the old fears of not belonging. The idea of physical assault never occurred to me.”

Enneagram figure

Enneagram figure

When writing about inner city education, Obama unknowingly stood up for the inclusive principles of the Enneagram in a 9-ish way: “Just think about what a real education for these children would involve. It would start by giving a child an understanding of himself, his world, his culture, his community. That’s the starting point of any educational process. That’s what makes a child hungry to learn—the promise of being part of something, of mastering his environment.” He admired what his idealistic educator friend said: “I give students a different values orientation—something to counteract the materialism and individualism and instant gratification that’s fed to them the other 15 hours of their day. I teach them that Africans are a communal people.”

After Obama’s father died, he took his first trip to Africa to get to know his relatives there. He asked himself “how community might be reconciled with freedom, how far obligations reach, how to transform mere power into justice, mere sentiment into love.” In law books he found cases of how often conscience (type 1) is sacrificed to expedience or greed. On the day he married Michelle, his brother complained he spent too much time in front of the mirror (type 3) and Obama said Michelle was worried he was something of a dreamer. He said he wanted to help create a more just and caring world. He is a Peace Seeker with a strong One wing.

President Obama and mirror

President Obama and mirror

Visit to see my books (including Finding the Birthday Cake and The Enneagram of Death), cartoons, essays, and a list of famous Enneagram types.

About the Author

Photo by Gail Wread

Elizabeth Wagele was the co-author with Ingrid Stabb of The Career Within You: How to Find the Perfect Job for Your Personality.

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