Elizabeth Wagele

The Career Within You

President Obama: Enneagram Type 9, Part 1

Obama describes his personality in his book, "Dreams from My Father."

Posted Jul 01, 2014

Barack Obama

Drawing by Elizabeth Wagele

I found clues to President Obama’s Enneagram type in his book, Dreams from My Father (1995). He was a young adult when he wrote it, often a time when type is most evident. In many passages, the types on the Enneagram triangle, the 3, 6, and 9 (see the diagram below), stand out. These personalities are all related: the Achiever, the Questioner, and the Peace Seeker.

If there’s one thing that is consistent with Obama throughout his life, it’s his desire to see all sides of issues. This and his desire to be fair, especially, indicate that he is primarily a 9-Peace Seeker.

Nines are known to space out, sometimes by using drugs, other times by narcotizing with TV or food. As a teenager, Obama smoked pot. He said he didn’t get high to prove how great he was (9s are often modest), but rather in order to push questions of who he was out of his mind. He wanted to “flatten out the landscape of my heart, blur the edges of my memory…And if the high didn’t resolve what it was that was getting you down, it could at least make you laugh at the world’s ongoing folly and see through all the hypocrisy and bullshit and cheap moralism.”

When he was 18 years old, Obama seemed to be sleepwalking through life, and had trouble figuring out what he wanted. An older man, a friend of his, asked him what he expected to get out of college he said he didn’t know. The friend said, “That’s the problem, isn’t it? You don’t know. You’re like the rest of these young cats out here. All you know is that college is the next thing you’re supposed to do.”

The Enneagram figure

The Enneagram figure

I believe Obama has a strong One wing, meaning he is influenced by the 1-Perfectionist point, one of numbers next to the 9. Ones are well organized and usually speak well, as Obama does. His One wing is useful for keeping track of all the things a president needs to keep track of. It is also partly responsible for his strong ideals.

Obama left his mother and grandparents in Hawaii and went off to college in California, where he expressed something of an anti-authoritarian nature, typical of a Six, the Questioner in the Enneagram. “When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our stereos so loud that the walls began to shake, we were resisting bourgeois society’s stifling constraints,” he wrote. At about this same time he got in touch with his fear, the emotion that runs many Sixes. “The same fear that had caused me to push Coretta away back in grammar school. The same fear that had caused me to ridicule Tim in front of Marcus and Reggie. The constant, crippling fear that I didn’t belong somehow, that unless I dodged and hid and pretended to be something I wasn’t I would forever remain an outsider, with the rest of the world, black and white, always standing in judgment.”

Achievers, the 3 in the Enneagram, strive to be insiders, important members of the group. They get ahead in life by performing and they’re usually competitive. They take note of who is successful and then pretend to be who they want to be. Obama worried he might take this path in order to belong.

See Part 2 of this blog 7-15-14.

Visit http://www.wagele.com to see my books (including The Enneagram of Parenting and The Beethoven Enneagram CD), cartoons, essays, and famous Enneagram types.

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