The Type Seven – The Enthusiast

Let’s begin with the Riso-Hudson definitions of the Type Seven:

“The busy, productive type. Sevens are extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. Playful, high- spirited, and practical, they can also misapply their many talents, becoming over-extended, scattered, and undisciplined. They constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. They typically have problems with impatience and impulsiveness. At their Best: they focus their talents on worthwhile goals, becoming appreciative, joyous, and satisfied.”[1]

Seven’s are the envy of the Enneagram, these hyper, fun-loving, funny as hell, lightening-quick mind-on- amphetamines characters who are always, one way or another, on the go. Now you see them, and swoosh!—now you don’t. I have been graced by several Seven’s in my life, and they are such fun, pure and hilarious fun, able to pull humor out of the darkest bag, able to weave stories from a kaleidoscoping inner library, pulling books off the shelves of their on-fire minds, tying together threads of stories and facts from everywhere, and landing them, coherent, or not, with the juice of entertainment zeal. Watch Robin Williams in an interview and you get the picture. It’s as though at each moment he is locked into seven information channels beaming down into his being, and he is juggling all seven possible responses, or blending them into one comprehensive story—flash—here it is! It’s like the brain of the universe courses through him and he can barely sit still, so much stuff going on, so much wild brilliance and insanity in a single breathe, waves of pure, uncontainable excitement resonating off him and through his words, his expressions, those wide-eyes of “Wow, you will never believe this tall tale I’m spinning at you ninety-miles an hour, watch out, here it comes, and it is funny.” Yes, I want to be a Seven in my next life time. I want that energy, that effervescent sense of being that says there is definitely fun to be had today, in fact, there are so many choices available we may not be able to sleep for several weeks. And there is no time, friend, to get sad or miserable. Saddle up and fire up kids, we’re on a journey. Keep up because there is no looking back. Ready, set, Gone!!! (Or Jim Carey. Oh my god, where did he arrive from. Fresh on the trail of Robin Williams, for sure.)

So, unlike the Six who worries about his anxiety and plans for protection, the Seven takes a different stance: I can outrun that worry stuff any day. Nervous? Maybe. But if I speed everything up and chase whatever pleasure or excitement I see in front of me, that nervousness disappears into my fever pitch vault into the future. Now, try to catch me.[2]

My friend Robert told me about the dark side of Seven. It went something like this:

“I love adventure. I am constantly thinking of the next thing to do. The chase is great. But here’s the deal. I finally arrive in Paris, France, after all this planning and saving, and instantly, I’m thinking of the next thing. I can’t stop long enough to actually be in Paris. It’s crazy stuff, but here I am walking to the Eiffel Tower and my mind is in Las Vegas, or the Bahamas, always someplace else rather than here. I am so damn good at dreaming the future, it’s like a damn drug, and—It’s exhausting! And the solution, well, it’s not what you think. You’d think that I would stop in my tracks and logically assess the situation, and conclude, hey, Bobby boy, you’re in Paris, let’s love Paris for Pete’s sake. But this brain of mine has a channel I can’t shut off, can’t deter, can’t reprogram, and immediately it is obsessing about someplace else, pulling me like a damn magnet away from the place I’ve longed to be, and have imagined would be so fulfilling and fun—Paris. I mean it’s Paris, the home of romance, beauty, art, and creative fun. But here’s what I do with the Paris experience. It’s food for my stories, my great adventure stories, because I do pick up on all the nuances of a place, but myself, me, I am barely there at all. I land and then, I’m gone. In fact, I’m more like a hologram than a human being. See, when I try to sit still some place for very long, aside  from the storm in my brain that’s running the next “Tour of Month” vacation ad, is this strange “emptiness” that  curls up inside my gut. I guess you’d call it anxiety.[3] It’s got a snake-like quiver to it that I hate. Like something  bad is going to happen. And I get antsy, got to move, which is when my attention instantly goes to the Vacation Planner in my brain, spinning the next escapade. Yes, I am driven by all this internal stuff, and even as I tell you about it, I will forget what I’ve told you in a matter of minutes…actually…it’s slipping away in my brain right now and my inner tour guide is saying ‘Plan the next vacation’ and ‘Get moving young Obewan, get moving.’ Ah…nice talking…I hear there’s this great island in Greece that everyone absolutely loves. Nice talking, have a great day. And have some fun!”

Like all types, the Seven’s personality structure does what a personality does, removes him or her from the present moment, the only place that life can be experienced and savored. Here, now. But done so with the spark and allure of “the next adventure.” Each personality structure has a different style of disengaging and disconnecting an individual from presence, from their true nature, from the source of what brings deep happiness. It is the gift of the Enneagram to map this material, and to show the doorway out. And yet, in the face of this mysterious Type Seven dilemma, good things do come. How could we live without Mick Jagger, and I Can’t Get No Satisfaction, the Type Seven’s theme song. Or Robin Williams Live at the Met performance, where he’s impersonating what he feels should be a real advertisement for alcohol use. In the throes of a drunken swagger, sloppy grin on his face, looking bug-eyed into the imaginary TV camera, he says, “It’s 5 AM in the morning. You’ve just pissed in a dumpster, it’s Miller time,” and clumsily draws his drink to his mouth and pours it down, a dark hilarity rippling through the crowd of the Metropolitan. He’s just hit a land mine of truth, but done it with the razor edge of humor, a trade-mark skill of beloved Type Seven, Robin Williams.

[1] From the Enneagram Institute’s website, From Free Hudson-Riso materials, Section 3, The Types in Brief.
All Rights Reserved Copyright 2001 The Enneagram

2 From Riso & Hudson Part 1 Training Manuel, p. 345, Personality Type Seven, which describes the Type
Seven Fixation of “planning.” All Rights Reserved Copyright 2001 The Enneagram Institute.

3 From the Enneagram Institute’s website,How the Enneagram System Works, “The Triads.” All Rights
Reserved Copyright 2001 The Enneagram Institute.

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