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Enneagram Sevens – Bob Goff on The Enthusiast

Episode 08

Enneagram Sevens! You can’t say it without an exclamation point, right? This week we look at what many consider to be the most “fun” number on the Enneagram—known as The Enthusiasts for good reason! To guide us is a true seven among sevens and friend to the podcast–Bob Goff.  Bob is a man of many hats—attorney, honorary consul, author, and humanitarian, to name a few. He’s here to share about the power of a Seven’s joy, their ability to have big dreams and ideas, and that a seven’s enthusiasm isn’t as spontaneous as you would think–there’s planning and thought behind it. As part of the thinking triad, these joyful strategists are full of situational awareness. They’re in tune with examining why they do the things they do, but they also carry a deep-seated fear of rejection. Sevens possess a beautiful, natural curiosity about possibilities. They’re excellent at saying, “Let’s just see what will happen . . .” and they’re brave enough to take those chances. Sevens strive for meaning, not just surface-level joy. As Jen puts it, “These are people that really come alongside the rest of us and go, ‘What’s your dream? You can do this.’” Also, if you stick around to the end of the episode, you’ll be delighted to hear composer Ryan O’Neal (AKA Sleeping at Last) talk about how he crafted a piece for Sevens inspired by Disney classics like Peter Pan and Inside Out—and you’ll hear Bob Goff himself, who contributed his own ukulele stylings to the piece (such a seven thing to do!). 

Episode Transcript

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Bob: What you tend to do with a Seven, people think it’s all hippy-skippy and balloons and unicorns. But really, underneath my experience, there’s a ton of strategy.  And my first thought usually is, What could possibly go wrong? 

Jen:  Welcome to the For the Love Podcast with me, Jen Hatmaker. Today we look at the world as Enneagram Sevens see it with the whimsical and delightful Bob Goff.

Hey guys, Jen Hatmaker here, your very, very happy hostess of the For the Love Podcast. Welcome to the show. Oh, I love this series. Right now we are in a series called For the Love of The Enneagram. We’ve been using the Enneagram personality assessment as the lens that we’re looking through right now, which has been an incredible tool in my life, for sure, in our marriage. And I know tons of you have experienced the same thing. And so, super grateful to all these guests who have agreed to go under the microscope so we can explore their Enneagram number and understand how they are wired better. 

And so today, lucky everybody, we are doing a deep dive with one of—hands down—my favorite people on the planet who happens to be—and this is no surprise—a big, bright, shiny Enneagram Seven, which is also known as The Enthusiast, which is the perfect description for him. And you know that I am talking about the one and only Bob Goff

I mean, he’s the Sevenest Seven that ever Sevened. Oh, I love him so much. And oh, are you ever going to love this conversation. You know Bob, of course, author of New York Times bestselling books Love Does and Everybody, Always, also bestselling Love Does for Kids. Fantastic.

He actually wears a lot of hats. He’s an attorney. Bob is also the honorary consul to the Republic of Uganda, because of course he is. He’s the founder of Love Does, which is a nonprofit human rights organization doing absolutely incredible work in Uganda, India, Nepal, Iraq, and Somalia. Plus, he loves balloons and cake pops because he’s a Seven, as I mentioned. 

He’s been on the For the Love Podcast before, and if you haven’t heard that episode, you’re going to want to hear that one too. That was in the For the Love of Exploring Our Faith series that we did back in 2018. Fantastic series. But I’m so happy that he’s back on the show today, number one, because I love him. Number two, because he’s fantastic. Number three, because I love Enneagram Sevens and you’re going to get a big dose of what Enneagram Seven energy looks like. 

Today, we talk about how he thinks, and where the pain points are, and what he’s going to have to struggle with, and what’s underneath some of that natural enthusiasm that we see on the surface of Enneagram Sevens. I mentioned to him that Sydney, my daughter, is an Enneagram Seven. And so, I love talking to somebody like Bob, it helps me understand her more. It helps me see what’s underneath it all. And we’re going to talk about the Dream Big Podcast, which Bob is doing right now, it’s just phenomenal.

Sevens do help us dream well because they’re not really worried about risk to the degree that a lot of the rest of us are. They have big ideas. They are really optimistic and hopeful. And so, these are people that really come alongside the rest of us and go, “What’s your dream? You can do this. You have the capacity for this. Let’s move forward.” I mean, nobody does this better than him. And so, we’re going to talk about all this today. He is fantastic and you’re going to love this conversation. 

Jen: So, Enneagram Sevens, pull up a chair. Everybody who loves an Enneagram Seven, pull up a chair, you are going to love today’s episode. So without any further ado, the incomparable Bob Goff

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I am 100 percent plus delighted to have you back on the show just because I like you so dang much. Hi, good morning.

Bob: Good morning! It’s so good to hear your voice. 

Jen: Same.

Bob: I think you should be a wake-up call each day. That would be a lot of calls for you to make of all the people that you encourage, but you are so dear to sweet Maria and I, and your family. And so, just thanks for letting me get a little bit of time to talk.

Jen: That’s great. You know we feel exactly the same way. I was just inside with the family and I told Brandon—and the boys are in the kitchen—and I said, “Okay guys, I’m going out to my office. I’m hopping on the phone with Bob Goff.” And at least three of them went, “Oh, lucky. Lucky!” I’m like, “I know. I’m so lucky. How is this my job?” We love you too. 

So, it’s been a minute since you’ve been on the For the Love Podcast. You were on with us in 2018, I think. And so, I know you and I pay attention to you. So, at this point you could have discovered fifteen new animal species by now, and who knows what you’ve dreamed up? Who knows what you’ve done since then? I wouldn’t be surprised. 

Bob: All kinds of mischief. Yeah. I had such a fun thing happen. We’ve got a little pier behind the house and a little boat at the end of it. And there was a couple that were there. And so, I said hello to them as I walked past. And they looked at us, a little down in the mouth. And so I said, “Hey, what’s up you guys, are you okay?” 

And they said, “Actually, we’re ICU nurses. This fellow and his girlfriend, they got engaged, they were supposed to be married next weekend.” And so they said, “But the church has canceled. Everything shut down.” And I’m like, “I’m a captain and I’m ordained.”

Jen: Oh no.

Bob: “So, what if we marry you on the boat next weekend?” And you should see, they just lit up. So, we’re just getting ready to throw a wedding on the boat.

Jen: Oh my gosh! Fantastic!

Bob: It’s going to be a wedding, because it’s a small boat, but that is pure joy for me to just think—and I think you’re wired a lot the same—that you could see a need and meet a need. And then literally all boats rise on this tide that joy and creativity bring.

Jen: Fantastic. That story has made my day. 

It reminds me, one time—we have a little place out on a nearby lake here in Texas. I was out there one time with my friends, and we were on the upper deck, kind of out by the water. And all of a sudden I kind of look over to our left, because we’re hearing these cheers, and we look down about four or five houses and there is the most beautiful, young, precious, fresh-faced bride and groom. And they’re in a canoe, and they’re rowing away from their own wedding that they’ve just had at their house. And I mean to tell you, I sprung into action like I was an Olympic runner.

Bob: Yes!

Jen: I mean, I ran into the house, I’m like, “We’ve got to have some champagne!” And I ran back down and I met them at the dock. And I had cups for them. I’m like, “Cheers!” And I hugged them like they were my own family members, and I’m in a bathing suit. They’re in their wedding clothes. Just couldn’t get enough of these adorable, young people in a boat getting married. And you’re about to have the same thing. Love it. 

Bob: There’s something about this, like, not going sometimes with your first thought, because your first thought is, Be polite. Don’t invade.

Jen: Sure.

Bob: So, sometimes those first thoughts, they’re polite and terrific and all that, but they’re very safe. And then I just want to go to the second or third thought and then vett that and say, “Is that devoid of any ego for me? I don’t need a picture of their wedding.” But oftentimes the return address for that first thought is our fears or own hang ups. Go to your second or third thought. And second or third thought is what might be possible if, or what could happen if, or why don’t we? And there’s a lot less I, me, and my in my second and third thoughts.

Jen: Great point.

Bob: And a lot more of we, us, and our.

Jen: Oh my gosh, I love that idea. And that is the perfect segue, because that is just something I exactly would think you would say as a big, fun, energetic, wide-eyed, wonderful Seven walking around in this world. That to me is how Sevens kind of look at the world and sometimes experience it through the lens of, What’s possible right now? What could this be? What is the possibility in front of me? What sort of interesting experience could this become for everybody involved? I parent a Seven, and she has this wonderful way of being in the world just like you do. 

You are probably everybody’s favorite Seven in the whole world. 

Bob: Flaming Seven.

Jen: I mean, I wanted to be a Seven, Bob. When I took that test and I read the descriptions, I’m like, Oh, I want to be a fun Seven. Sevens are the greatest. I’m 100 percent not, but I wanted to be. 

I wonder if you could talk for just a minute about what it means. So, most people listening have some idea about the Enneagram, but what is a Seven walk through the world like? What’s going on inside your head?

Bob: Oh yeah. I was just talking of the dozens of things you and Brandon have inspired me with. I bought this old Jeep, a 1962 Jeep. It just thrashed. And it goes uphill okay. It actually goes downhill okay too, but it has no brakes. 

Jen: That’s tricky.

Bob: And so for a Seven, you’re thinking, “I’ve just turned this car into a roller coaster.”

Jen: So true.

Bob: So, some people would stay on the flat areas because it could coast to a stop, and others would see, What’s the tallest hill I can find?

Jen: Sure.

Bob: And so, there’s not a wrong way, but what you tend to do with the Seven, people think it’s all hippy-skippy and balloons and unicorns. But really underneath my experience is a ton of strategy. It’s like a mile deep, that you know why you’re doing what you’re doing. You’re actually situationally aware. And you’re aware of your feelings and why you’re doing these things. And that’s the trick because anybody can be enthusiastic. Get on enough drugs, and you will be.

Jen: Sure.

Bob: But I would say, what if we’re actually mindful that we could actually pause and say, Why am I doing what I’m doing? Is there a bunch of ego in this? Is there a bunch of just me covering up my insecurities or trying to distract myself? Or is there really a beautiful purpose, of this beauty of adventure in our lives?

And my first thought usually is, What could possibly go wrong? But a Seven would go there. 

Jen: Sure.

Bob: They could say they would engage that. They could say, “I think of the range of possibilities, and they all seem acceptable to me.”

Jen: Totally.

Bob: Yeah, we sailed a boat to Hawaii, not knowing the pointy end from the blunt end. But it’s west of here. Have you heard?

Jen: So I’m told.

Bob: We started heading west, not knowing the difference between true and magnetic North, which is actually not a big deal over the course of a hundred yards, but over the course of 2,850 miles, it actually is a big deal.

Jen: Sure.

Bob: But we learned along the way. And we didn’t see land, we thought, Maybe we should double check.

Jen: Oh my goodness. That’s such a good example. I appreciate that you say that, because Enneagram Sevens are in the Thinking Triad of the structure. And so, you are very cerebral. It isn’t just yippee-skippy, feelings-led living at all. That’s more like me. I’m a Three. I’m dead center in the Feelings Triad.

And so, I feel first, and then I have to give my feelings a minute for my brain to catch up so that I can begin thinking about the thing that I’m feeling. And so, my experience of Sevens is what you said. They’re very enthusiastic, but with a plan, with a strategy, with a lot of thought put into it. I see that in your life. Have you had to cultivate that or is that something you’ve learned or is that just how you are naturally wired?

Bob: What I’m trying to do constantly is understand more about why I do what I do. So, one thing that some people don’t realize about a Seven would be we have gears. And so, on the one hand, I could be thinking—I’m working on my hot air balloon license, I’ve got three hours to go before I’ve got this thing. And the thing about hot air balloons is you never know whose backyard you’re going to land in. 

Jen: Tricky.

Bob: And for me, that is like, “What? This is going to be neat! I’m gonna make some new friends!” But it also informs the way that I deal with people, because I don’t want to land in somebody’s backyard and have them shoot at me with buckshot.

Jen: That’s fair.

Bob: Yeah. So, if you meet somebody that’s disagreeable, I think to myself immediately, Someday I might land in their backyard. So I want to be nice. That would be the strategy of a Seven, but Seven have gears. 

I also try death penalty cases against witchdoctors that sacrifice children.

Jen: Yeah.

Bob: That’s really heavy stuff. And you would think the mischaracterization of a Seven is that you’re always going toward happy, and really a Seven is going toward meaningful. And you’re willing to do what it takes to get to the meaningful, but to do it with joy, but joy and a resolve.

And so, sometimes people see the joy and they don’t understand there’s a ton of resolve under there, like, Oh, heck no, we are not circulating a petition. And we are not trying to build consensus. We’re trying to build a kingdom and God loves kids and we’re going to do whatever that takes.

Jen: I love that. That’s how I experience the Sevens in my life as well. It’s mistyped, I think, because of that natural enthusiasm that you just mentioned. But to your point, that can be applied to very sober-minded activities and that’s not always just applied to fun things. 

What’s the underbelly of that level of thoughtful enthusiasm and dogged commitment to the thing? Where’s the rub? What would you say is the pain point that a Seven really has to be mindful of and pay attention to?

Bob: Well, for me, I would say the underbelly is that when I’m not operating in a really healthy spot, it’s because underlying all this is a deep-seated fear of rejection. Is that crazy? You’d think the happy guy, the balloon guy, the whatever. But I would say I’ve never had a chance to walk out on a stage to speak to people and my first thought before I go there is, “I’ve got nothing to say. They will reject me.” Is that crazy? 

Jen: Yeah.

Bob: But what everybody sees is happy Bob, and then they do.

Jen: Sure.

Bob: That’s not faking it. I mean, deep but filled with joy, but I actually have to speak to those untrue voices to say, “Where did that come from?” So it evidences itself in a bunch of joy, but the joy was a reaction to the feeling of rejection. And so, where did the rejection come from?” 

And then you need to speak to that. You don’t need to camp out there, but you need to understand the campsite to say, “Wow, if that’s where I go, I need to find a beautiful strategy to deal with that and to speak truth over these lies in your life.” 

And so, if you’re listening and you deal with that, you hear these voices that just aren’t true, I just want [you] to be able to understand where does that come from? Return to that, say what it is that is a lie from the pit of hell and to say—and then to move back. Return to yourself.

Jen: That’s so meaningful to me because I am a Three. And so, I have long been really motivated by producing, just doing a lot—working really hard, succeeding, gathering my community in a wonderful way. And so, my fear also in a similar way, but maybe from a different source is, “Yeah, my community won’t love me. They won’t love me and I’m wasting their time. And whatever it is I’ve created or produced, whatever it is that I’ve worked on to say right now, isn’t good and it’s going to waste their time. And it’s not going to matter to their lives.” 

And I do, too. People ask me too, Bob. I speak a lot like you do, and I’ve not done it as long. I think I’m pulling in around maybe fifteen years at this point. I’m still nervous. There isn’t a time where I’m sitting in the wings waiting and my stomach isn’t rolling, and I am having to talk to that mean voice—that mean, mean voice—just like you. I appreciate your honesty in that, because we wouldn’t look at you and ever think that about you. We would never think you would think that.

Bob: Yeah, isn’t that interesting how we can [be] misunderstood? And so, instead of maybe having envy for somebody else’s characteristics, or you see an attribute that you’d say, “Oh wow, I find that really attractive,” to instead of having envy, feel empathy for that. To say the going with that probably is some other stuff, and then engage that in your own life and to say, “Hey, who is at the best version of me?”

And I think if we want to do something just terrific is, if faith is a big deal for you and you’re listening, you want to dazzle God, go be you. Just figure that out. And then the beautiful thing is that we’re moving targets. That was the best compliment somebody gave me. They said, “Bob, you’re a moving target.” I’m like, “Oh, really? That’s awesome.” Because I want to be that new creation, like new Bob.

Jen: That’s great.

Bob: Leaving the old Bob behind and seeing engaging new Bob. 

Jen: That’s great advice. 

One thing that I love that we can count on from our wonderful Sevens in the world and in our lives is you do have real natural curiosity about what’s possible. You do have natural enthusiasm and you’re wonderfully what appears to be somewhat risk averse—or not risk averse, I should say. You’re willing to take chances. You’re willing to step out and say, “Well, let’s just see what happens,” as you said earlier. I see nothing but possibility. Everything could go back.

Bob: Yes!

Jen: And I love that. And you do that. And we follow in your wake. 

Bob: Just keep landing the plane. And when you are flying an airplane and you practice when things go bad, and you do three things: you pick, you pitch, and you point.

Jen: Oh mercy.

Bob: You pitch forward into it. You don’t pull back because our first reaction is like, Oh, heck no.

Jen: Right. 

Bob: But to pitch forward into that, to pick a place, a field, a road, a something, not a tree, and then to point at it. 

Jen: If you will, sure. There it is. 

Bob: If we had in a moment of lucid thought said, “What I want to do is I want to know what I’m pointing my life towards.” Then it’ll probably give you, I don’t care what number you are. It’ll give you something, a game plan, when inevitably things go a little bit wrong, that, What are you going to do next? I mean, we had our house burn down for heavens’ sake.

Jen: You sure did. You sure did.

Bob: And so, that was one of those moments like, Oh, it’s like everybody threw their sock drawer on the floor and then lit it on fire. But what we decided to do is, Why are we doing what we’re doing? And we really wanted the end of the story not to be a bunch of ashes and an insurance claim. What we wanted to do is to say, “You know what? We’re going to rebuild this.” And so, I’ve never operated a 150 foot crane before. 

Jen: Gosh.

Bob: But I got one. They are so fun. You should see the rope swing that makes.

Jen: Oh mercy.

Bob: You could go a mile, but that idea to get in there and just start re-stacking the logs in your life, instead of saying, “Well, I’m out,” or making some stupid agreement with yourself, “I will never love again. I will never risk again. I will never…” you finish up the sentence. You made a bad deal with yourself, renegotiate it. That’s what they did with NAFTA. Like, renegotiate the deal.

Jen: That’s right.

Bob: With the risks you take, the love you would give, the generosity you would have, the empathy you’d feel, the pain you’d tolerate, I just say, let’s cut a new deal. That’s the idea of being a new creation.

Jen: We have made some pretty rotten deals with our own selves, haven’t we? We, sometimes, are our own worst enemy. I love listening to you talk about this. I am a dreamer, too. This is where we have a lot of overlap. In our creative lives, I’m constantly thinking, What could we do? What is possible? What could we build? What could we create?

I’m always really long on ideas, and then I have to put a team around me that’s really long on execution, because I’m big idea, I’m wide eyes. 

But I would love for you to maybe—I’m thinking about the person listening right now, who the way that they are wired—like the very, for example, wonderful Sixes that we all love. Sixes make the world such a beautiful place. They’re naturally risk averse. And there’s a place for that. There’s a place for them to look out into the world with caution and with care. And that has a home. 

What would you say, though, to the person that’s listening and they hear you talk so wonderfully and with such possibility about dreams and where we want our lives to point and it feels impossible? It just feels like, I couldn’t even know where to begin. I couldn’t even know what first step to take. I’m not even sure I have permission to dream like that. Maybe that’s just for the Sevens in the world. How would you speak to that person?

Bob: Yeah, I would just remind you of what you know is already true, that God does not compare what he creates, that he has something really unique in you that he’s created and just get some skin, bring all of your Sixy-ness, get that and throw your hat over the fence and to say, “What am I going to do?” And if we could just listen, if we could narrate our life a little bit more, do you remember that movie The Sandlot? Did you watch that?

Jen: Oh, I love that movie.

Bob: I love that. Remember how there’s a…

Jen: “You’re killing me, Smalls.”

Bob: …voice over the whole thing. And the plot of the movie was really simple, they needed a ball. The kid needed acceptance. He got the ball. It turns out it was signed by Babe Ruth. It ended up over the fence, and the whole movie is, “How are we going to get the ball?” And at the end, they realized they could have just walked up to the front door and asked for it. But it doesn’t end with shame that you spend all this time wasting it. He ended up with a ball signed by everybody. So, there’s actually something bigger in this. And if you could narrate over your life, kind of like The Wonder Years voice…

Jen: Sure.

Bob: …that comes over there and speaks down on what’s happening in your life, I think whatever number you are, speak down upon your life, just narrate, “What this is happening is this is Bob growing up. This is you [insert your name here] facing your fears. This is you, delightfully wise and thoughtful about what’s going on.” Could you just speak over that? Not words of condemnation, or shame, or envy about some other thing, but just speak over that, “that she was strong. That she was not asking for permission, particularly from a dude, to speak her voice.”

Jen: That’s good.

Bob: “She had things to say, she released them with courage into the world.” If you could just speak that over your voice, Wonder Years style, Sandlot style, I’m telling you, you’ll start to see the plot even if you’ve lost the plot.

Jen: Oh, I love that! Oh, I love that. Sometimes I hear something and all I want to do is helicopter those words down to my nineteen-year-old daughter. Oh, I wish somebody would have told me that when I was nineteen. I wish I could have heard a voice like yours that I trusted and that was wise and good tell us those things. Because so many of us came up in a completely different structure where we were taught to not trust our instinct, to not trust our own voice, to imagine that kind of at our core, there was just something no good about us, right? We were just skating by. “God’s just so sick of us. He’s just putting up with us and our messy, just sloppy humanity.” 

And so, we developed this real lack of trust for what it is, is good inside of us and what we want to bring forth to the world and what is true and wonderful. And I really appreciate your wisdom in coaching us to listen to the better voice, to listen to our better selves. 

I think you see the good in people naturally. This is something very, very wonderful about you that has meant so much to me, so much to Brandon. Right in a moment where we just needed someone to see something good in us, you just came in clutch for us. Just absolutely clutch in a really, really important time. And so, is that something that you have always felt toward people? Have you always naturally looked around and just been like, “Man, people are great”?

Bob: Yeah. I think I’ve bumped into a couple of people as a lawyer, in particular, that are very difficult to deal with. And then some of these people that we now have in a witchdoctors school actually used to do some really horrible things. But what I’ve tried to do is, you can’t engage it if you don’t try to understand it. And then if you don’t try to understand it, you’ll never engage it. And so, I’m in a little bit of a loop to say, if there’s a really disagreeable person—whoever it is, I don’t care what hairdo comes to mind—that you’d say, “What I want to do is I want to engage this. Not just with criticism or sharp words, but I want to try to understand. I wonder what is actually going on.”

Jen: That’s good.

Bob: “Underneath the surface.” If we can understand and have some empathy for that, you might not agree with it. You might actually press every button that you’ve got in you. But to say, “I want to engage it, and I’m not just going to engage it with a bunch of wrath and pointing bony fingers, but to try to understand that. And then to say, and so how will I react? What’s my thing?” Because I have some ownership over that. And I’m just constantly figuring that out. And I’m just so not there, but I’m trying to understand what’s going on. And it’s usually one or two pieces of information that would clarify everything. 

I’ll give you an example. A friend was telling me stories like, “Do you want to hear a story?” I’m like, “Just as long as it’s clean.” And he said, “A man walks into a bar and then…” And I’m like, “Oh, here it comes.” “And the guy behind the counter pulls a gun. And the guy that walked in said, ‘Thank you’ and he left.” I’m like, “What was that?”

Jen: Weird story, bro. 

Bob: Yeah. I felt like I was missing some information.

Jen: True.

Bob: I was looking at him and he said, “Oh, the guy that walked in had the hiccups.” And, oh.

Jen: That’s hilarious.

Bob: That actually gives some context to what’s going on. 

There’s a woman who was so agitated. She’s a police officer. It was Chicago. And she was yelling at everybody. I thought she was going to stroke out. And so, when I got out of the cab, I walked over. I’m like, “Oh honey, are you okay? You need a puppy or something.” And she looked at me surprised. She said, “Oh no, no, no, I’m just cold. This is how I stay warm.” I’m like, “Just by yelling at all the cars.” And I’m like, “Well, actually with that bit of information, that would make sense.” Because it was awfully cold. 

So, sometimes we’re just missing one or two bits of information. And instead of thinking how screwed up they are, or reflecting how screwed up you are, what if you just say, “What’s the bitter tooth of information?”

Jen: That’s great.

Bob: You can even substitute. You can have a placeholder to say, “I wonder if they’re just as insecure as me.”

Jen: Totally.

Bob: “I wonder if they’re dealing with some of the things that I’m dealing with just in a different variety, and that they’re expressing that in a really different way than I am.” I’m not saying you need to mirror that to other people. I’m just saying you need to understand it so you can be at peace with the world.

Jen: That’s a nice way to live. 

That’s one of the things I’m hopeful for as we, whenever we emerge from this moment in time, from this moment in history where we are at least physically disconnected from each other, just our bodies where we’re in isolation. And one of my real hopes as I think about, “What’s this going to look like next? What’s our new normal going to look like?” Because I don’t think we’re going to return to just the way it was. How are you and sweet Maria doing right now? Because you’re a real people person and I’m wondering how this moment feels to you guys.

Bob: I’ll say for sweet Maria who is very—I’d say extreme social anxiety. So she is very like—as you’ve experienced her—she’s just delightful and engaging. But if you put her in a bunch of people, that would freak her out. So, when they said everybody needs to go into isolation, she’s like, “Yes!”

Jen: “I’ve been training for this my whole life.”

Bob: But for me, to say you can’t hug people, that’s like, “Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh.”

Jen: Yes.

Bob: In answer to your question about how we’ll walk away changed, you don’t need to just read Henry Cloud‘s book on Boundaries to start respecting people’s boundaries. And so, as people were getting acclimated to that, we’re trying to learn how to distance but be together. And you don’t need to wear a hoop skirt to keep people six feet away from you, but to find ways to create thfe space that you need so you can thrive. 

I think that’s one thing that I’ll walk away with, because I won’t be giving hugs to people anytime soon. I don’t mean in the next three months, I mean in the next three years, which for me will be like carving a new little groove in my brain because that’s…

Jen: Totally.

Bob: ….my go to because we’re here and we’re together. But having people experience some trauma of like, “What does all this mean?” I want to be really respectful of them. And so, find ways to connect. And one of the things that we were taught when we were all five or six years old is these three words: use your words.

Jen: Right.

Bob: So you can replace a hug with some words to say, not just like, “I’m giving you an air hug,” which is super fine. But what if you say, “One of the things, Jen, that I love about your character is your engagement. I’ve never felt that you disapproved of me. Even though I know that I do life differently than you, I’ve never felt or sensed your disapproval of me. And I’ve always felt that you were a courageous, capable woman. But I’ve shared some moments with you when you’ve been really soft, and approachable, and kind, and vulnerable and didn’t have the answers. And I just so appreciate that. It really gives me a lot of courage.” I’m not just blowing sunshine at you with these things, Jen, I just gave you a hug and I used my words. 

Jen: That’s good. It’s great to watch that right now too, just to see how human people are finding ways to love one another well, and connect from all of our homes, and show appreciation to each other, and figure out how to support one another through what is a lot of loss, and trauma, and fear. 

It’s just really something to know that we had this in us all along. We didn’t develop this because of a pandemic. We always had this option. We always had the option to love one another like this, and to use our words like you just described in very powerful ways. I mean, those words mean something. They matter, they land, they affect me, they affect people. And isn’t it wonderful to think we can still choose this. We can take this generosity with us toward one another, toward our communities, toward our healthcare workers, toward all of our essential workers.

And that feels wonderful to me, that feels like we’ve just discovered our own potential and now we’ve seen what we can do with it, and now we get to choose to hang onto that without leaving it behind. I believe in us, I do. I believe in us to make something beautiful when this is over. 

So, I would love to just wrap up with a couple of questions here. These are little questions that we’re asking everybody in the Enneagram series, because we’re asking you to talk so much about what makes you tick and how you’re hardwired and what’s going on in your head? 

So, here’s the first one. Now, this is just, we’ll just pick it out of thin air. You can just pick whatever you want. If you could have or add any personality trait to your repertoire, one that you don’t have, what would you choose?

Bob: A personality trait would be—I’m a pretty good at engagement. It’s sitting in quiet contemplation with unparalleled level of not being distracted. So, that’s what I would say, the ability to focus. I actually have a magnifying glass and I’m trying to train myself to look closely at a few things. It could be a chess piece, it could be a leaf. It could be if you have a child and you’re listening, or the person you said I do to, or the person you love the most, what if you get that magnifying glass out and memorize their thumbprint and be the only person on earth that could draw their thumbprint? I want to have that kind of focus. Yep.

Jen: That’s great. I told you that I parent a Seven, and she’s nineteen and she’s here. And yesterday we got so tickled at her because just over the course of a handful of hours, we were just noticing that she just kept moving from room to room. She’d go to one room and then she’d go to the next room and sit, and then she’d go out on the porch and sit, then she’d come into my office and sit with me. Finally I just [said], “Honey, what are you doing?” She’s like, “I just can’t focus. I got to move. I’ve got to be in a different room at least once an hour.” I thought, Oh, the Sevens, they’re just trapped like cage animals right now and it’s such a challenge.

Bob: Yes! That’s why there’s ladders and roofs to climb around on.

Jen: Totally.

Bob: And casts for broken arms.

Jen: You’re so right. Okay. How about this? Which part of your personality do you just enjoy most about yourself? And I think we have permission to say that. We’re trying to not say that we love something, but I love that we can set a different example.

Bob: Yeah. I’m quick to smile.

Jen: Yeah, you are.

Bob: Yeah. I think that’s my go to. Even if I’m puzzled, I don’t get a furled eyebrow, I get a smile. 

Jen: Me too.

Bob: That is amazing. That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, but I’m quick to smile. 

Jen: Love that. Last question which we always ask in every series, and you’ve answered it before, but I’m curious to hear what you’re going to say now. It’s Barbara Brown Taylor’s question, which is, what is saving your life right now?

Bob: Oh, what a beautiful question. That’s so surprising. I think the thing is hope. Hope feels like it’s buoying me. I’m looking towards the horizon. I’m not just looking down at my feet, but I’m aware of where my feet are, but I’m looking towards hope. I’m not going to skip over everything between my feet and the horizon, but that is saving me. And I don’t need to know the destination, I just have so much comfort in knowing that we’re moving in this direction. What I want to do is keep looking at this bright hope in the future, moving in that direction, not ignoring the people that are in front of me, or I wouldn’t have met that couple on the pier yesterday.

Jen: That’s right. That is beautifully spoken, just like I love a Seven to speak. We love you for that perspective. We love you to hang onto that hope and to keep her eyes up, keep her chins up, that is so needed and so good right now. And you are hands down one of my favorite Sevens in the whole entire world.

Bob: Oh, thank you.

Jen: I adore you. I love you. I love Maria. I am so grateful to just be in your orbit. Thank you for coming on today and for being so you, just exactly who you are and how you are. 

Bob: Thank you. And everybody listening, continue to find safe people like Jen in your life, and she is a safe person for me. And surround yourself, that Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else to guard your heart.” And you can do that without getting inside the vault and closing the door. 

Jen: That’s great.

Bob: You just find some safe people. And Jen, thanks for being one of those safe people for me.

Jen: Love you much.

And now to tell us more about the music you’ve been listening to in this episode, we hear from composer Ryan O’Neal, AKA Sleeping at Last, about the inspiration behind this piece. 

Ryan: Type Sevens are so great. If I could transform my type Nine self into another type, I would definitely choose Seven. There’s just something so infectious and inspiring about Sevens and in my life, anytime I’m with the Seven for a little bit, I’ll go away feeling super inspired and uplifted. 

So obviously I knew that I needed to feel hopeful and energetic and optimistic in nature, and I gave myself permission in the production to feel like every layer counts and goes in. So it was a whole lot of fun to just record anything that I felt like recording, any instrument that I had in the room. I have pulled out a giant bin of my kids’ musical instruments and recorded all of them. It was so much fun. It was sort of like everything. Everything goes kind of scenario. Bob Goff, who is an incredible force of Seven nature, he has meant so much to me and my family and he was kind enough to lend me his ukulele skills. So he recorded a little bit of ukulele and sent it my way, which is in the song as well. 

Peter Pan is often used as an example of a type Seven, so I watched that film a bunch while writing the song. I also watched Inside Out, which features Joy as another pretty great example of Seven, and illustrates sort of the hardships of being a Seven as well. And with every type Peter Pan as well, Sevens have their shadows. The need is to avoid pain. And so I never speak pain’s name in the song, but I do reference it, in other words, in several of the lyrics. 

I just wanted the redemption story here to not pull on the ankles of type Sevens to bring them back down to earth, but I wanted to gently help them to remember that some of the most beautiful adventures and experiences that people can have are right here with the people we love and exactly where we are right in the present. 

So my hope for this song about this extremely dynamic type was to celebrate that energy and that optimism. And they are remarkable people. And actually, in spite of the desire to want nothing to do with pain, they’re actually probably the most equipped to handle pain well and to to help others do the same. So we are incredibly lucky to have Sevens in the world and I hope this song honors them. 

Jen: Oh, man. I love me some Bob and I love me some Enneagram Sevens. Some of my favorite people in the world are Sevens and I love the way that they move through the world. I love the way that they see possibility and hope. I love the experiences they create. I love the positivity that I have gleaned from them. 

So, to all my Enneagram Sevens listening today, you are much loved by this girl, and I love the way that you’re formed. And I love the beautiful work that you do in the world. I love the energy that you bring, we need you and you are just a wonderful piece of the puzzle. Absolutely wonderful piece of the puzzle. And we see you, and we see what matters to you, and what worries you, and what excites you. And I just want to honor who you are and how you are on planet earth.

So guys, more to come. Next week, we go Enneagram Eight, which is a wonderful number. I know I say that about every number, but I mean it. Eights are also some of my favorite people and I share some energy with an Eight as an Enneagram Three. And so, this just feels like a personality that I can really deeply understand in some ways. So, I can’t wait to bring you that conversation, you guys. And you’re going to love it. So, whether you are an Eight, you work with an Eight, you are married to an Eight, you are parenting and Eight, you are friends with an Eight, you’re going to want to be here next week. See you then.

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