Each of us leads with one form of intelligence—but you can’t really tell it from the outside in. The photo shows me with two new friends from an Enneagram Intensive in Boulder which concluded this weekend. Nancy -a head type (in green), Denise – a body type (in blue + white) and and me -a heart type- (in the middle) have a lot in common in terms of life stage and interests but distinct ways of encountering and filtering our experiences.
Culturally, we tend to value the mind as “the” center of intelligence. Yet there is also an intelligence of the heart (emotional intelligence) and an intelligence of the body (instinct and intuition.)
Though we lead with one center of intelligence, each of us actually has all three centers within. With conscious attention we can touch and quicken each center and learn to draw in the resources they offer us. Here is a brief case study from my life of how this plays out.
“An undefended heart requires grounded presence.”
This potent lesson came from one of our teachers at the Enneagram Intensive.
I knew when the words first left her mouth that they were true.
As someone who leads with the heart (and backs that up with a lot of busy thinking!) I need to prioritize practices which ground me in my body, like acupuncture, chiropractic care, yoga, and physical exercise. They root me and connect me to body wisdom– without which I feel overly vulnerable and untethered — like a heart balloon on a string blown about by the strong gusts of other people’s emotions or preferences.
Often my body’s language is a corrective for my regular habits (which typically orient around getting sh*t done and making sure everyone is feeling good along the way. And most importantly, that they like me!!)
Today, right at this very moment my body is saying: “Stop typing—make this blog short. Your forearm is tired from pulling a rolly suitcase across Colorado.”
So I will tend to that directive soon.
Body wisdom is also teaching me to set firmer boundaries in leadership roles—especially around people who normally would drain my energy. In these moments my body says, and I quote: “You can work with challenging people… but you don’t have to be a gooey gummy bear while you do it! Feel the ground beneath your feet and draw strength from a deeper source.” I can also draw from my head center and be strategic about when and how I communicate rather than rushing in relationally and hoping we can all just work it out as friends.
Now each of us is on an individual journey. And those with personalities that typically lead with the head or body will find different practices will help bring about more interior balance among the three centers, such as getting in touch with the tenderness and vulnerability of their hearts, or consulting their mental center to get clarity on next steps.
We often have so many more inner resources than we realize because it requires us to lean out of habitual patterns (and nuero pathways) to even realize they are there!
Do you lead with your head, heart or gut?
Can you close your eyes and tune in to the other two centers?
It is a wonderful practice to simply get curious about what might they have to teach you.