What Fires You Up To Achieve

Know Your Motivation Type

What Fires You Up To Achieve

Written by Tania Burgess

Whilst some people are naturally wired with a competitive drive to achieve, not all of us will be motivated to reach that goal, beat that time or excel beyond our previous or another’s best.

Discovering what motivates you may be easier than you realise, thanks to an ancient tool called the enneagram. It was developed over three thousand years ago and translates as ennea meaning nine and gram, meaning as written.  Over the past century, it has been developed as a tool for both spiritual growth and therapeutic healing.  It’s a system that identifies 9 personality types and the deepest motivations of each.  This makes it a valuable tool for individuals, families and organisations because when you understand what motivates someone and why you can bring out their best, yourself included. 

I’ll explain the primary motivation of each personality type in a moment, but before I do, it's important to understand that this model isn’t about putting yourself into a box, but rather seeing yourself as a complex individual with values & beliefs that determine your behaviour.  Each personality type exists to some degree in all of us and for good reason, as you will see.  The model is useful to recognise your home base if you like, the type that best describes you because it aligns most with your sense of self and how you see yourself fitting into the world.  Here are the 9 types and what motivates each one.

1. The Reformer

- is the rational & idealistic type.

What Motivates her is: having a purpose, working to principled standards; exercising self-control, whilst striving to improve things, being consistent with her ideals, and being right, to the point of not needing to justify herself because she’s thought of everything and got it all covered.

She’s motivated by doing things well.

2. The Helper

- is the caring, generous, people-pleaser.

What Motivates her is: expressing her feelings for others by being compliant and helpful to gain their appreciation.  She’s warm and unselfish at best, experiencing unconditional love for those who are dear to her. 

She’s motivated by the need to be loved & appreciated – by doing things for others to be needed.

3. The Competitive Achiever

- is a success-oriented, driven, and image-conscious type.

What motivates her is:  Distinguishing herself from others, by being competitive and getting results. She’s adaptive, and gets motivated by excelling, advancing her cause and receiving recognition for her achievements.

She’s motivated to feel valued and worthwhile – by impressing others to gain their attention and a sense of being valuable.

4. The Individual Creative

- is sensitive and in tune with her inner world, making her expressive & sometimes dramatic.

What motivates her is: wanting to express herself and her individuality, to create and surround herself with beauty, and to take care of emotional needs before attending to anything else.

She’s motivated to find her significance and identity – by maintaining certain moods, and feelings & being authentic.

5. The Investigator

- is the nerdy, cerebral type: perceptive, innovative and isolated.

What motivates her is: wanting to understand things and have everything figured out.  She loves words, knowledge, information, insight and understanding. Often preferring her own company, she sees the world differently, sometimes ahead of her time and is ok with eccentricity.

She’s motivated to focus on complex ideas and work independently – by detaching and withdrawing into complex thoughts and ideas.

6. The Loyal Sceptic

- is, security-oriented, engaging, responsible, and suspicious.

What motivates her is: The need to have security and feel supported by others.  She seeks reassurance and loyalty, testing the attitudes of others to overcome anxiety and insecurity.

She’s motivated to build loyal alliances and feel safe & secure – by testing and committing to those who prove themselves trustworthy.

7. The Enthusiastic Visionary

- is busy, fun-loving, spontaneous, and easily distracted

What motivates her is:  maintaining her happiness and freedom, to avoid missing out on life-enriching experiences that keep her occupied and inspired. 

She’s motivated to experience life to the fullest, by taking part in activities and projects that excite and inspire joy.

8. The Challenger

- is powerful, self-confident, decisive, and not afraid of confrontation.

What motivates her is: Proving her strength by maintaining control of her situation.  She is wilful and a born leader, taking control, especially when leading others. She can be heroic and Maverick like.

She’s motivated to be important in her world, by being decisive and protective of her own interests.

9. The Peacekeeper

- is easy going, receptive, trusting and complacent.

What motivates her is: wanting to preserve things as they are, creating harmony in her environment by avoiding conflicts and tension, and resisting things that could upset or disturb her.

She’s motivated to maintain inner peace, by tending to those in her environment to heal conflicts and bring people together.

Just as knowing what motivates you and others can help you bring your best, so too can understanding your fears, conflict style and blind spots. The enneagram becomes a road map for growth and development, stress management and taking a different perspective.

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