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The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery

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Ignorance is bliss except in self-awareness...

What you don't know about yourself can hurt you and your relationships―and even keep you in the shallows with God. Do you want help figuring out who you are and why you're stuck in the same ruts? The Enneagram is an ancient personality typing system with an uncanny accuracy in describing how human beings are wired, both positively and negatively.

In The Road Back to You Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile forge a unique approach―a practical, comprehensive way of accessing Enneagram wisdom and exploring its connections with Christian spirituality for a deeper knowledge of ourselves, compassion for others, and love for God. Witty and filled with stories, this book allows you to peek inside each of the nine Enneagram types, keeping you turning the pages long after you have read the chapter about your own number. Not only will you learn more about yourself, but you will also start to see the world through other people's eyes, understanding how and why people think, feel, and act the way they do. Beginning with changes you can start making today, the wisdom of the Enneagram can help take you further along into who you really are―leading you into places of spiritual discovery you would never have found on your own, and paving the way to the wiser, more compassionate person you want to become.

238 pages, Hardcover

First published October 4, 2016

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About the author

Ian Morgan Cron

17 books479 followers
Ian Morgan Cron is a bestselling author, nationally recognized speaker, Enneagram teacher, trained psychotherapist, Dove Award–winning songwriter, and Episcopal priest. His books include the novel Chasing Francis and spiritual memoir Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me. Ian draws on an array of disciplines—from psychology to the arts, Christian spirituality and theology—to help people enter more deeply into conversation with God and the mystery of their own lives. He and his wife, Anne, live in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Profile Image for Leigh Kramer.
Author 1 book1,163 followers
July 10, 2022
The names Suzanne Stabile and Ian Morgan Cron may or may not mean something to you. When I heard they were writing a book about the Enneagram, I paid attention. Stabile is a well-known Enneagram teacher. I've never been able to attend one of her workshops but I've followed her online for a while. Cron is probably better known as an author and Episcopal priest, although he's done some speaking on the Enneagram in recent years. The combination of Stabile and Cron- her extensive knowledge plus his gift for the narrative- results in an easy to read and understandable resource that will surely help many people identify and better understand their type.

The Road Back To You provides an introduction to the Enneagram, my favorite personality type system, and why it's beneficial to figure out your type. They then devote a chapter to each type. As I read, it struck me how truly readable the book was. I'll forever sing the praises of Riso and Hudson's The Wisdom of the Enneagram but it has a more academic, almost clinical tone and the amount of information could be overwhelming as a starting point, although a fantastic resource through and through. This, in contrast, is a great place for people to start.

Cron includes many examples from his and Suzanne's lives, including their friends and family, and this roots the type descriptions better than other Enneagram resources. His writing style is engaging, though his attempts at humor didn't always work, including one specific line in the Type 5 chapter that is ill-advised. Overall, Cron is able to depict the types in a way that is personable, gracious, and incising. People should see themselves reflected on the pages. This is written from a Christian perspective but it's not so heavy-handed that non-Christians couldn't still find value in reading it. It worked for me, at least. But if you prefer to avoid religious content altogether, I'd direct you to The Enneagram Made Easy, which is a short, accessible overview.

I have two minor complaints. First, Cron references his children's Enneagram types and the examples provided are generally when they are not adults. I'm in the camp that believes our personalities continue to form into our 20s so I'm very wary of typing children and teenagers. They may have the tendencies of a certain type but I don't want to put anyone that young in a box. (The Enneagram of Parenting does a great job of laying out the fine lines, while also providing guidance.) Cron is probably in this camp, too, but I don't want people to read about his children and then start typing their own children. So there's that.

Second, each type chapter includes celebrity examples when we have no idea what their type is. It's unfair to caution people against typing/labeling others, then proceed to do the same thing. In most instances, the celebrities are listed in a bubble at the start of the chapter but there are some actual examples in chapters, such as Bill Clinton being a Nine. For the record, that would not have been my guess, which brings me back to my original point. We can have a guess for what a person's type might be but they're the only one who knows their internal motivations- the very thing the Enneagram is built upon. Moving on...

I've lost count of how many descriptions I've read of my type (4) so I was not expecting to be so completely and fully pegged when I read these lines: "As you might guess, Fours are prone to melancholy. Like the Old Testament figure Job they can steep in lament. After all, it's hard to be chipper when the now-dated U2 song "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" or the Radiohead song "Creep" play like the soundtrack in the movie of your life." (p. 156) How did Cron know what songs I turn to on sad days?! I could not stop laughing. I also really liked this part: "Fours are the most complex of all the types on the Enneagram: what you see is never what you get. There are always more layers of things going on underneath the surface." (p. 158)

Finally, I liked the emphasis on how learning about our type is both a benefit for ourselves and for our relationships, as well as our worldview. Throughout the book, the call is to become more aware of how we go through life and what mistakes we continue to make so that we can "get out of your own way and become more of the person God created you to be.'" (p. 17) Figuring out my type has allowed me to have so much more compassion and understanding for myself and others. That's why I continue to encourage people to learn more about the Enneagram. I can't help but imagine a world where we all had this level of compassion and understanding.

Disclosure: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,110 reviews8,032 followers
October 31, 2018
If you are new to and curious about the Enneagram, I think this book is a fantastic way to start digging into it. Cron wonderfully explains each type, giving context to them in many ways (work, childhood, relationships) as well as details the various elements of the Enneagram (wings, stress, security). It was insightful, accessible and entertaining, and has truly opened my eyes to how I see the world in a particular way as well as how other people very unlike me see the world—and that gives me the ability to reframe my relationships with other people so I am slower to judge, quicker to listen and overall more gracious.

On the other hand, if you have absolutely no idea what the Enneagram is, you can take this free test (granted you can also just read about the 9 types and figure out which one you are, but I think the test is a helpful starting place). I'd encourage you to do some research and read up on your type because it's truly changed my life and interactions in such a positive way! #enneagramforlife
Profile Image for Andrea.
278 reviews61 followers
June 18, 2021
This book was assigned reading at my job. I believe the intention was for our small team (about 10) to understand that each of us is different and, if we can understand each other's perspective, we can improve our communication, compassion, expectations and overall teamwork. According to the author, "The purpose of the Enneagram is to show us how we can release the paralyzing arthritic grip we've kept on old, self-defeating ways of living so we can open ourselves to experiencing more interior freedom and become our best selves." (pg. 36)

I would have been much more receptive to this theory of personality if people didn't insist on trying to Christianize it (or I should say "spiritualize" it, because there's really no Christian theology in it). Other personality tests like the Myers-Briggs or even the whole love language concept can be helpful insofar as they help people understand that not everyone sees the world the way they do. I think it would be hard for anyone to ignore that we are different and that those differences cause conflicts. Our understanding of those differences, though, and how we go about working through them is of the utmost importance.

And that's why I can't recommend this book and would be throwing it away if I didn't have to hang onto it for reference at work.

I'm not sure the authors pretend to be Christian specifically (although Cron was/is an Episcopal priest), but this book (and this concept) is being promoted in Christian churches and I could see why people would read this book and think, "Oh, this whole idea is Christian?! Cool!" But from what I remember, though the author references God and the Bible, I found no evidence of the tenets of Christianity - only some vague spiritual language that skirts the Gospel, courts Eastern religion and, in general, confuses all kinds of religious thought. For example, the author writes toward the beginning that "the true purpose of the Enneagram is to reveal to you your shadow side and offer spiritual counsel on how to open it to the transformative light of grace." (pg. 31) Pretty generic. Yet, supposedly, each of the Types is associated with one of the Seven Deadly Sins from the Bible: "each personality's deadly sin is like addictive, involuntary repeated behavior that we can only be free of when we recognize how often we give it the keys to drive our personality." (pg. 31) The author doesn't seem to know how to choose between an amorphous spiritual theory that is truly incompatible with Biblical teaching and some sort of compulsion to make his view of the Bible fit with the Enneagram. The results is a failure on multiple fronts.

I'll try to summarize a few of my biggest complaints with the book below.

First, Christians should be suspicious of any book that claims to deepen your connection with God but without reference to God's word. I kept track of the number of times that the authors referenced the Bible and I believe it was under five...in over 200 pages. And the references that were included were mostly in a section that had to do with the author's own "spiritual journey." They weren't necessarily instructive (which is good because, after reading this book, I wouldn't trust this author to do any instructing from the Bible).

You might think, "So what?" Well, for a book on a topic that apparently claims to be "known among clergy, spiritual directors, retreat leaders and laypeople as a helpful aid in Christian spiritual formation" (pg. 11) I find it odd that the Bible, the foundation of Christian belief and practice, is almost completely absent.

Where he does talk about the Bible he gives the impression that it's a secondary aid from which to pick and choose to support the "life-changing," supposedly centuries-old theory of the Enneagram. At one point he reluctantly introduces the story about Martha and Mary (from Luke 10) calling it "hackneyed." Those pesky, overused Bible passages. Who would have thought that in a book written from a "Christian" perspective by a dude that is an Episcopal priest you would find an apology for introducing scripture?

Worse than the lack of Bible references is the redefinition of orthodox terms like sin and sanctification. Early on the author writes, "Bearing sensitivities in mind, allow me to offer a definition of sin I have found helpful and one we might use together in our conversation. Richard Rohr writes, 'Sins are fixations that prevent the energy of life, God's love, from flowing freely. [They are] self-erected blockades that cut us off from God and hence from our own authentic potential.'" (pg. 30) Setting aside how nonsensical this "definition" is, anyone who has spent time with the Bible should feel deeply uncomfortable with its total lack of scriptural integrity. Sin isn't what gets in the way of us finding our authentic selves; it's what we as rebellious people willingly commit against a holy, perfect God that puts us at odds with him and cause us to desperately need a Savior. Both the act and the outcome are woefully misunderstood (which isn't surprising consider the slew of other heresies that Richard Rohr holds to). Speaking of Richard Rohr, the author holds him in very high regard writing, "If it weren't for spiritual teachers like Richard Rohr, we wouldn't have as clear a picture of the loving heart of God." (pg. 99) Cron is kind of fanboy-ish about Rohr throughout the book and it speaks volumes about where Cron stands theologically.

Regarding sanctification and salvation, the author quotes Thomas Merton (a mystic who studied Eastern religion) in the conclusion of the book: "For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self." (pg. 230) I'm not sure if my mouth dropped when I read this on the final page of this book, but I certainly was aghast at the proposal that salvation itself is the process of becoming more of me. Never mind that the apostle Paul said, "He [Christ] must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30) or that God called Christians to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). Merton's (and the author's) sentiment is so far from the Biblical emphasis and explicit teaching on salvation and sanctification that he really can't be trusted to handle any spiritual topic with any skill or honestly.

Second, the whole idea of the Enneagram (at least according to this book) is that spiritual development and, really, self-fulfillment and satisfaction in life, all come back to the idea of knowing yourself. Without self-knowledge we are "asleep." (pg. 14) The author quotes Brother Dave as saying, "Working with the Enneagram helps people develop the kind of self-knowledge they need to understand who they are and why they see and relate to the world the way they do. When that happens you can start to get out of your own way and become more of the person God created you to be." (pg. 15)

The author goes on to quote from a variety of theologians/mystics about self-knowledge. Irritatingly, he quotes from people like Calvin and Augustine who would be rolling over in their graves if they knew their words were being used to promote this piffle. Calvin is quoted as saying, "Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God." (pg. 15) I'll let Kevin DeYoung provide the explanation for why Calvin never meant that in the way that the authors in this book claim.

Knowing yourself, says the author, leads to restoring our authentic selves (which is purportedly what God wants for us). (pg. 23). At one point the author talks about a "highly evolved" Three named David and quotes him as saying, "Today I think far less about winning and losing and more about 'David-ing.'' (pg. 136) This is supposedly after the man had a "meet Jesus" crisis. I don't know a lot of people who, after truly meeting Jesus, become more interested in themselves, but this is the very type of "enlightened" thought the book is trying to promote.

Third, the whole concept is just subjective and anecdotal. Apparently, the Enneagram theory is that "though we all adopt one (and only one) of these Types in childhood, there are an infinite number of expressions of each number, some of which might present in a similar way to yours and many of which will look nothing like you on the exterior-but you are all still variations of the same primary color." (pg. 25) Well, that's handy. Everyone has one type (and only one), but the type could look like basically anything. That's how you invent an indisputable theory.

Cron writes, "Don't expect to identify with every single feature of your number-you won't. Just be on the lookout for the one that comes the closest to describing who you are. If it's any comfort, it takes some people several months to explore the numbers and gather feedback from others before they feel confident in identifying their type." (pg. 38)

He goes on to say that, "While your motivation [what drives you at the deepest level] and your number can never change, your behavior can be influenced by these other numbers [Types], so much so that you can even look like one of them from time to time." (pg. 28).

In fact, with the one number that you supposedly really are, and the way you're influenced by the "wing" numbers in both stress and security, any person could cover more than half of the Types in the system without being inconsistent with their main Type. That's convenient for the system and you've got to hand it to them for building in an explanation for why people actually don't line up with the types all the time, even though their explanation kind of negates the whole thing, in my opinion.

I also found it strange that, apparently "many Enneagram teachers" believe that the Six Type makes up more than half the world's population. There are nine types, but half the world is a Six? Ok.

Lastly, while I had the most trouble theologically with the 40-50 pages of the introduction and conclusion since that is where the author outlines his incredibly flawed theory about life (complete with exclamations and anecdotes about how life-changing it all is), the rest of the book was pretty tedious mentally. The whole middle (about 190 pages) is just nine chapters, one for each of the nine Types. They all follow the same formatting and have the same components so, by about the third one, it becomes sort of a drudgery to get through them all, especially when the theory that these Types are based off of has been just about completely discredited by its explanation in the introduction. If it hadn't been a work assignment, I wouldn't have finished the book.

Out of all of this, I did take away a few things from this book.

In particular, I liked this quote: "Like flowers, relationships don't grow in the dark. Relationships bloom in the light of self-disclosure." (pg. 180)

And also this quote: "...we can't change the way we see, only what we do with what we see." (pg. 95) In a sense, I think I agree that the way we view the world will always be flawed and different from other people, but we are accountable to work with what we have and to glorify God with what we know/see at any given time. Of course, I also take God at his word when he says that, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." (James 1:5) God does, over time and through the work of the Spirit, open Christian's eyes to see things differently.

I also can appreciate the fact that we are, indeed, different from one another. I don't buy into this system of explaining those differences, but I do think it's helpful to be reminded that we approach things differently. Toward the end of the book the author writes, "When you realize that your Loyalist Six husband views [the world] as a place filled with danger and uncertainty, and he in turn understands that when you get up in the morning you as a Performer Three feel an urgent need to compete and excel at everything you do, it's amazing how much more compassion you can for each other. Everything isn't so personal anymore." (pg. 227) I can relate to this sentiment as I see it play out in how my husband and I think about life. I see it in my co-workers, my family, my church family, my friends, etc. We are different.

And did I see myself in any of the Types? Well, yes, I did. If you're going to attempt to describe just about all of human behavior in the context of nine basic Types, people are bound to relate to a few of them. There were a couple that stood out to me in particular, but also a handful more that I could easily relate to. There were really only one or two that I didn't relate to in some way. There were also some Types that I read about that instantly brought to mind someone I know. Does this prove the theory? Not to me, although I know some people who swear by it. The whole thing is just too subjective for me. It reminds me of astrology - make vague enough statements and they will sound true most of the time. And, like I said earlier, I don't necessarily begrudge people of exploring theories of personality, but if you're going to wrap it in a Christian façade and tell people it will bring them closer to God, that's a different story.

I don't know what kind of religion this is, but it's not Christianity. Even the most basic concepts of Christianity, like sin and salvation, are redefined to suit the author's purposes. It's has a couple of vague references biblical characters like Paul and Job, but it's otherwise full of fuzzy, pseudo-Christian ideas like, "Christianity is not something you do as much as something that gets done to you. Once you know the dark side of your personality, simply give God consent to do for you what you've never been able to do for yourself, namely, bring meaningful and lasting change to your life." (pg. 36)

Sadly, the author (and the people that the author reveres) has committed himself to the Enneagram and has tried to work the Bible in where he can/wants to. But the Bible isn't an additive; it's the main ingredient. The Bible, when taken at its word, must be first. Anything less is a misunderstanding and misapplication of what it claims to be in and of itself. This book/theory is a perfect example of the ineffectual, misleading, harmful and specious mish-mash that you get when you abandon the Bible as the one, authoritative source of truth.

We should be very concerned that the teaching about the Enneagram has made its way into churches (I have a friend who used to attend a church that had someone come present on this topic at church). May our boast be not more of self, but, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)

"You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is." (Galatians 5:7-10)
Profile Image for Britany.
950 reviews413 followers
March 8, 2018
I kept hearing about the Enneagram, took a quiz and got multiple answers, that's when I decided to go digging...

Many of my very favorite podcasts mention the Enneagram and I got curious. This book was a wonderful introduction. There are 9 categories that you can fall into with wings and shades of others. What does this all mean? Cron spends time explaining what a healthy number looks like vs someone struggling with their related deadly sin. I kept trying to think of this as it relates to my closest friends and family members. Changing and adapting my thought process when dealing with conflict and added some new life mantras to help me move forward and own my truest self.

I would highly recommend checking this one out if you have any interest in personality and bettering yourself. Slight tinges on religious undertones, but not heavy handed.

PS I'm a 3 (Achiever) with the energy/sin of a 9; Which one are you?
Profile Image for Barnabas Piper.
Author 11 books889 followers
March 29, 2017
Super helpful and enjoyable introduction to the enneagram. I'd read nothing on it previously other than a couple inline summaries, and this was an accessible and relatable entry into what seems to be a rich and complex thing. It moves quickly, it is concise, it is funny in parts, and it is strikingly insightful.
Profile Image for JanB .
1,126 reviews2,274 followers
December 30, 2019
This is an excellent reference book for the different Enneagram types. Very well done and a book to keep on my bookshelf.
Profile Image for Morgan.
140 reviews7 followers
November 16, 2019
Unfortunately, much of what I want to say about this book is bad. The overall premise of this book is that God made us unique individuals whose show aspects of his character. Each type has a tendency toward certain sins that they will need to work on. The way we should use this book is to better understand ourself and others to learn how to get to know ourselves better. Ultimately, when we know ourselves better we then understand God and become who we were made to be.

I find this thinking deeply faulty as a Christian (which, this book would advertise itself as firmly in the Christian camp). You doesn’t need to learn about yourself to understand God; you need to learn about God to understand yourself. You are starting from the wrong viewpoint.

I also deeply object to how the author portrays God. He is represented as our Creator, but as someone who thinks that we all are too hard on ourselves and that we need to forgive and love ourselves. He sees us as lovable, why can’t we? While there are slivers of truth in here, this does not accurately reflect the Gospel.

His alarmingly lax view of God can be seen in his joking remark, “Angry parents, teachers and coaches find it all but impossible to discipline puckish Sevens. They can talk their way out of almost anything. If Adam and Eve had been Sevens we’d all still be living in the Garden of Eden.” As if God could have the wool pulled over his eyes, or see our sin as something we could wiggle out of with a bit of persuasion and personal magnetism.

His view of people is equally skewed when he comments, “We owe it to the God who created us, to ourselves, to the people we love and to all with whom we share this troubled planet to become ‘saints.’ How else can we run and complete the errand on which God sent us here?” This completely circumvents the doctrine of sin, grace, man’s depravity, and God’s omnipotence (to name a few). This is not the Gospel.

He also offers skewed (read: unbiblical) advice for how “overly emotional” types should deal with their emotions. The fact that this man was once a pastor makes me very concerned.

He did mention that we can’t be complacent and each type must fight against our sin tendencies. I will give him a small nod for this. I will also give him props for sharing that this book is to used as a tool for compassion toward others. This is commendable.

I also don’t find the meat of his explanations on the enneagram to be revolutionary or different than what a quick search on the Internet could provide. He does not offer new or interesting thoughts to the dialog. He fills his books with anecdotal tidbits from his personal life and the lives of those around him. This book felt like a long personal ramble with surface enneagram talk and some jokes and “inspirational” quotes thrown in.

I would bypass “The Road Back To You” in your reading journey. This book is not worth your time.
Profile Image for Iman  Dirige.
11 reviews
September 26, 2022
My love and I have optimistically embraced personal growth and deeper self-awareness since our sweet beginning almost nine years ago - to better ourselves as both a faith-based married couple, mothers to our two adorable children, assertive individuals, mirrored soulmates with a beautiful life journey together, our best-friendship, and philanthropists with a profound love for humanity.

Together, we’ve gracefully developed in an all-encompassing matter alongside the in-depth knowledge we've gained on cognitive functions, Myers-Briggs, and Big Five personality traits since beginning our cognitive function and MBTI journey in Iraq - only in recent months have we delved into the ancient enneagram system.

We’ve taken both the official Enneagram Institute type indicator, the Tritype enneastyle theory questionnaire, as well as numerous unofficial enneagram personality tests online.

All have been conclusive with the same results...

This enneagram type nine (9w1) is joyfully married to an enneagram type eight (8w9).

Not surprising results for us considering that my cognitive functions are FiNeSiTe and my equal half's are TeNiSeFi - both fine-tuned.

We’ve confirmed our enneagram along with this highly insightful book - an assistance of self-discovery, encouragement, transformation, and understanding from a Christian perspective.

Coupled with lighthearted humor and compassion - this book is a must read!🌻

Goodreads review shared publicly March 5th 2019 - coincides with our Pinterest vision boards for our humble Dirige Ohana.🌻
Profile Image for Ali M..
317 reviews56 followers
November 28, 2016
Knowing my Myers-Briggs type never did much for me. Knowing my Enneagram number has deepened my self-awareness, given me practical and specific tools for growth, and helped me better understand people who are wired entirely differently than me.

Part of what makes this ancient personality typing system so compelling is the fact that your number is not a static description of yourself; it's a spectrum you're constantly engaging with as you learn to recognize the behavioral patterns, coping mechanisms, and ways of seeing the world (both healthy and unhealthy) that are rooted in your number... and how they evolve as you do. The idea that your greatest strength is simply a conquered/integrated version of your greatest weakness—i.e., your struggles and victories emerge from two sides of the same coin—fascinates me, and echoes wisdom found across many spiritual traditions. Meanwhile, reading up on the other numbers tends to inspire a needed dose of compassion for people that might otherwise frustrate and/or mystify you. Since becoming familiar with the nine Enneagram types, I've largely stopped asking the question "How could anyone think that way?"

Cron and Stabile don't bother getting into niche Enneagram topics here, like the instincts, subtypes, or levels of development. For that kind of depth, check out any of the more detailed tomes written on the topic by Riso/Hudson or Richard Rohr. Instead, this is an accessible, well-organized primer on the basics—one I know I'll be referencing in abundance, and no doubt handing off to friends and family left and right. (Bonus: It's also laugh-out-loud funny in places.)
Profile Image for Brooke — brooklynnnnereads.
985 reviews239 followers
August 23, 2019
This was an informative read for those that have an interest in the enneagram, whether it be as an introduction or for those that have previous knowledge surrounding these personality types.

As someone who's new to learning about the enneagram, I find this content fascinating. It may not be scientifically objective or measurably sound but I find the information regarding these personality types interesting.

For those that know their enneagram type, it's tempting to solely flip to that section; however, it was really eye-opening to read the information on the other personality types (can you tell I'm a type five). Reading the other personality types not only allows you to gain insight on different people but it also allows you to firmly conclude you are not another personality type.

There will be many people who will be quick to dismiss this method (or any method really) of personality typing but I found this book to be an interesting and thought provoking read.
Profile Image for abigailscupoftea.
137 reviews1,547 followers
January 12, 2021
I’ve always been interested in the Enneagram, and this book was so informative! While learning more about the nine different personality types I gained more self-compassion (and self-awareness) and compassion for others. “Inside each number is a hidden gift that reveals something about God’s heart.” 💛
Profile Image for Kiko.
7 reviews11 followers
November 4, 2018
Recommended for: Christians who have already read a non-religious take on the Enneagram
Not recommended for: Everyone else.
*Listened to the audiobook

I guess I am not the target audience for this, being non-religious, but reading the Goodreads Q&A above stating that is not religious save for the short spirituality sections and because I've listened to Ian's podcast where it was more "discussion on the Enneagram while the people happen to be religious", I gave it a shot.

Boy was I disappointed. I really should have put more weight on the book description.

Having read Riso & Hudson and Beatrice Chestnut's books, I am aware that the system has some very vaguely defined Christian roots and is also sometimes passed through these religious groups. However, it is clear in these books, once they start to describe the system, that it is fundamentally a psychological framework, not a religious or spiritual one. The Christian ideology injected and laced into the Enneagram through the Road Back to You, in my opinion, diminishes the system's power and usefulness.

A very good example of this is in the intro section where he describes the basic types. "6s look for safety and security in authority figures and systems of belief instead of ____"

If you read Riso & Hudson or Chestnut, you'd say "themselves" or "their own power and capabilities". Cron says, "god". Newsflash: Christianity both imposes an authority figure and is a system of belief. This completely dismantles the objective of the Enneagram. It is just replacing a crutch for another crutch. You are right back where you started.

The book is laden with this type of stuff: "the shadow of the personality blocks love from god". Cron states that this is the only system that is both psychological and spiritual. In truth, this version of the Enneagram is spiritual and religious only because it is deliberately soaked with Christian agenda.

As a Type 5, what I am looking for is truth and knowledge. I grew up in a very religious environment but even from childhood it never sank into me and I eventually completely removed it from my life. I guess this would be par for the course for a 5w4, Iconoclast. That's why this distortion leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Even if you are Christian, I recommend you read the other, more secular, takes on the Enneagram FIRST before reading this one. Understand the core system first, objectively. You can link it to your spiritual objectives afterwards.

While I recognize that I shouldn't give this book a low rating because I am not its target audience, I will give it 2 stars for taking a good system and replacing parts of it with its own Christian agenda.
Profile Image for Charlsa.
529 reviews21 followers
May 14, 2019
I discovered this book by listening to Anne Bogel's #whatshouldireadnext podcast, episode #141. She and Ian Morgan Cron were talking about the Enneagram #s of various authors and characters in books. I had already taken to test to determine my Enneagram type, but I still wasn't sure. I listened to the audiobook first, narrated by the author, then purchased the book. I needed to go through it in detail. This book really helped me to narrow down my type. I like that he shared the h isotry of the Ennegram. He explains it and gives examples that shows the reader that it isn't just your actions by the motive behind your actions that determines your type. I'll be referring to this book often.
Profile Image for Morgan.
192 reviews40 followers
September 3, 2018
I haven't read or learned extensively about the enneagram, and truthfully this was my first exposure to it. I doubt that I'll read much more.

I'll start with some positives about the book and my understanding of the enneagram as a result. The book is an easy read. Cron's writing style is colloquial and his humor lighthearted. The lists at the beginning and end of each chapter, "What It's Like to be a #" and" Ten Paths to Transformation for a #. " I also like that they attempt to come at this from a Christian worldview and acknowledge sin and our need to change as well as the encouragement to view others and ourselves with compassion. The last few pages are also an attempt to encourage Christian readers to view their identity in light of who God created them to be. And in reading the description of my suspected number (2), there were some helpful insights, though overall pretty common sense.

But that's about all the positive I can ascribe to it. The glaring fallacy in the book is that the prescribed transformation for each number begins with self and takes no look at the power of the gospel to transform our lives. I would have LOVED for a pastor (Cron) to tackle this... That our personality "stressors," "deadly sins," "childhood wounds," relational and work shortcomings can be transformed by the power of the gospel, by knowing who God is and rightly fixing our minds on him. Instead, we have another introspective self-help book for searching people who fail to receive the truth of the good news they so desperately need to hear. Instead we're pointed to examples of Buddhist teachers, Jesuit priests, politicians, and Catholic monks. Cron's attempt at this is a mere 2 pages at the end of the book where--unsurprisingly--our instruction to embrace our God-given identity is nestled amongst the sage advice of a Buddhist teacher and Catholic monk. No words from our Messiah or Heavenly Father.

What a powerful book this would be if the authors fully understood and embraced what it means for a Christian that their identity begins and ends in Christ, not in a personality number or type, not in childhood experiences or wounds. Do those all shape us? Absolutely, but they are not the essence of who we are. Any "Christian" teaching that starts with US, our personality types, etc., has already missed the mark.

After digging a bit more into the history of the Enneagram as well as its most well known proponent (Richard Rohr), I am convinced that a book like this is more damaging than good. For those wishing to read a really well written and thought out review, please see Kevin DeYoung's review on The Gospel Coalition's blog. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/bl...
Profile Image for RuthAnn.
1,297 reviews178 followers
March 3, 2019

I'd been avoiding it for a long time, but I finally read The Road Back to You. I put it off for a long time because I was reluctant to dig into the Enneagram, aka, the type indicator that deals with your junk. Can't I just do another StrengthsFinder, please? But after reading Dare to Lead and Braving the Wilderness, it was time.

Well, in no surprise to anyone, I am a big ol' Enneagram 1 (perfectionist/reformer). I really hoped I would be the investigator (5), because I like to think of myself as logical and cerebral, but apparently, I act out of my gut/instinct because of a need to prove my goodness out of perfect living. OKAY FINE. Even this level of self-examination is uncomfortable, and I DO NOT LIKE IT. But I know it's for the best. I'm glad I read this book so I have a clue what the heck everyone is talking about. I'm at the stage of Enneagram learning where I read the type descriptions, type my husband, and see all my actions through the lens of my type, but I haven't got to the point of listening to podcasts or reading more books. I guess we'll see? At this point, I'm just trying to chuckle at my 1-ness and not berate myself when I observe unhealthy patterns. But you KNOW I'm making an action plan because ones gonna one.

Sidenote: I didn't realize that this book was written from such a clear Christian worldview. I didn't mind, because it helped me interpret the types and next steps, but it really surprised me that this book is so widely recommended. How must it have felt to others reading this book who didn't share this worldview??
Profile Image for Taylor Cole.
25 reviews3 followers
November 29, 2016
Maybe it's because I came to this book already equipped with a basic working knowledge of the enneagram, but I found The Road Back to You to be a bit more helpful in my understanding of the enneagram than Richard Rohr's book (The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective), which was my introduction to the enneagram and a major source of guidance for many others (and which, frankly, left me a little confused). Ian and Suzanne's writing made the characteristics of each number much more clear to me, and I appreciated the fact that they tried to avoid stereotyping the numbers. I also enjoyed the introductory stories in each chapter—cute, funny, and insightful. Will definitely be recommending this book to friends who are curious about the enneagram—and to those upon whom I force my own enneagram curiosity. :)
Profile Image for Amy.
2,555 reviews393 followers
May 12, 2020
While the Myers-Briggs holds my loyalty, I am beginning to understand the draw of the Enneagram. It definitely offers a different dimension in which to understand people. And as always, I'm egotistical enough to be endlessly fascinated by my own personality. (7w6, thank you very much.)
This was a good overview of the Enneagram overlaid with a vaguely Christian perspective. Nothing necessarily mind-blowing, but it provides a helpful introduction and tries to be upfront with the strengths and weaknesses of each type. It also explains wings and the two other numbers corresponding with stress and growth.
Lots of personal examples from the author of the various people in his life corresponding to each number (particularly his immediate family) which I could have done without. But it fits the self-help vibe.

Thanks to my sister-in-law for lending me her copy!
Profile Image for Bob.
1,810 reviews615 followers
January 3, 2017
Summary: Describes the Enneagram and each of the nine types, and how these may be helpful in Self-discovery, uncovering one's true self and experiencing spiritual growth.

John Calvin, and many others have observed that knowledge of God and knowledge of self often go hand in hand. Often, what we do not know or knowledge that has been colored by the wounds of our upbringing deflect us from knowing God and ourselves truly. One of the tools that has been found increasingly helpful by many spiritual directors and others who work with spiritual formation is the Enneagram. It's roots go back to a fourth century Christian mystic, Evagrius, who developed a system based on the seven deadly sins, plus an overarching sin of self-love. G.I. Gurdjieff first developed the Enneagram figure and two personality psychologists, Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo developed the modern theory that underlies the Enneagram. It was introduced into spiritual formation circles by Catholic retreat leader Richard Rohr and several other Jesuit priests.

Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile provide a readable and witty introduction to the Enneagram with chapters on each of the nine types. They begin by giving some of the background of the Enneagram and list each of the nine types and the corresponding deadly sin each type is most susceptible to. They are

The Perfectionist (Anger)
The Helper (Pride)
The Performer (Deceit)
The Romantic (Envy)
The Investigator (Avarice)
The Loyalist (Fear)
The Enthusiast (Gluttony)
The Challenger (Lust)
The Peacemaker (Sloth)

They explain that these come in three triads of three: Anger or Gut: 8, 9, 1 ; Feeling or Heart 2, 3, 4; and Fear or Head: 5, 6, 7. Also each type is modified by one or both of their wings (the types adjacent to them) and have a type the gravitate to under stress and when they are secure. Sound a little confusing? Cron and Stabile walk us through all this both in introduction and the survey of each type.

Starting with the Anger or Gut triad and Type 8, they devote a chapter to each type, beginning with a list of 20 points of what it is like to be that type, describing the type in its healthy, average, and unhealthy expressions, and talk about its deadly sin. Then they give a more detailed description, talk about the type as a child, in their relationships and at work. Then they explore how the "wings" and the types they tend toward when feeling stressed or secure shape the expression of their type. They conclude with what spiritual transformation looks like for the type and ten steps for each type to take in transformation.

Throughout, they give examples of the type from people they know (including themselves and their families) as well as famous individuals (I discovered that Oliver Sacks, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer were/are likely the same type as I am--except they are all far more intelligent!). I found myself laughing as they describe the different types, until I got to my own, where I found myself alternately saying "yes" and "ouch!"

Like other writers like Richard Rohr, they don't offer a test to find your type. Rather, here is what they recommend:

"If while reading a description you begin to feel squeamish because it's captured your inner world in a way only someone who hacked into the server where you back up your personality could know about, then you are probably zeroing in on your number. When I first read my number I felt humiliated. It's not pleasant to be the rat in a dark kitchen who is so focused on devouring crumbs that he doesn't hear the stealthy homeowners approaching and therefore doesn't have time to take cover before they suddenly switch on the light and catch the rat in the act with a bagel in its mouth. On the other hand I felt consoled. I didn't know there were other rats like me. So if this happens, don't despair. Remember each number has its assets and liabilities, blessings and blights. The embarrassment will pass, but in the words of novelist David Foster Wallace, 'The truth will set you free, but not until it's done with you.' "

That gives you a pretty fair picture of what you are in for, both in terms of writing and your experience as you read this book. The one thing worse than knowing this stuff about ourselves is for it to be present in our lives and to not know it. Knowing helps us pursue paths of growth along the lines of who we are rather than who we aren't. And it helps us to be gentler with all those other types, whose unique predicament parallels our own. Most of all, it begins to help us understand the depths of the grace of God that meets each of us uniquely and in the depths of our own deadly sins. If you are ready for and hungry for that kind of knowledge, then this book is a good place to begin.
Profile Image for Shawna.
274 reviews2 followers
September 12, 2019
I was curious to read this as I am hearing about the enneagram from so many people. I've done a fair amount of reading about Meyers-Briggs so I was happy to learn about another tool for understanding people. However, I found this to be quite general. While I think I was able to figure out my number, from reading the chapters the only one I definitely eliminated for myself was three. Because the of the generality, I identified with almost all of them. My husband, when told about this, said it reminded him of a horoscope a bit.
However, where I really have a problem with this book is in the fact that it claims to come from a Christian perspective. With MBTI, I knew that there was nothing spiritual about it so I was able to see it very clearly as a tool that I could use to understand why I do the things I do but not stay there. With the understanding came an ability to see where to go. And I knew that in myself, I would not be able to change but had to depend on Christ for that life transformation. With this presenting itself as Christian, I was disappointed that it did not speak more of the need for the rejection of sin and dependency on Christ to truly effect any change. From reading, I think someone could easily do a great job of self-love. I also found the lack of Scriptural foundation concerning coupled with the appeals to other religions like Buddhism.
The book was well written and easy to read with a good flow. There is certainly appeal in this kind of information, and people are always interesting so it is helpful to have insight into others. The need is simply to see this as a tool not an excuse.
Profile Image for Christina DeVane.
359 reviews29 followers
April 13, 2019
My favorite quotes from this book:
• The Enneagram should only be used to build others up and help them advance on their journey toward wholeness and God. ❤️
• When we stop trying to change people and simply love them that they actually have a shot at transformation. The Enneagram is a tool that awakens our compassion for people just as they are, not the people we wish they would become so our lives would become easier.
• Each type is at its core a signpost pointing us to travel toward and embrace an aspect of God’s character that we need. ❤️
I did enjoy the explanation of the Enneagram for a novice like me. This book makes a deep subject easy to read although I have many questions coming out of this book.
The Enneagram does a great job at revealing our faults “deadly sins” showing us why we make certain choices or react a certain way.
Each number by itself seems extreme so categorizing people can be difficult because they only fit a few of the descriptions.
I truly sense an awareness of seeing people through their own eyes and my heart giving compassion and love to them instead of getting frustrated at why they they struggle and have problems with things that seem so basic and trivial to me.
Typing yourself takes time and study, but I believe this can be very helpful when not obsessing but kept in balance of why I do this in the first place. (First quote)
Profile Image for Donna Craig.
879 reviews38 followers
November 15, 2020
This enneagram guide is the kind of book I would usually read in hard copy and keep for reference, but my library had the audio, so I went for it.

What a wonderful book! I actually went back and reread a few sections when I finished. My husband enjoyed listening to his number info as well.

This book is much friendlier and more accessible than other enneagram books.
The descriptions of the types were written in such a clear and useful way. It is a Christian book which is not evangelical, pushy,or overdone in any way. I think people with no interest in Christianity would still find it useful and interesting. I absolutely loved it.

The author reads the book, and he brings along a self-deprecating humbleness and humor. I had zero complaints. Loved it.
Profile Image for K.M. Weiland.
Author 29 books2,274 followers
April 15, 2018
Sound basics of the Enneagram. I feel like it’s obviously just a starting place, but it helped me find my own surprising number and opened my eyes to some areas of personal understanding and growth I hadn’t previously considered.

Profile Image for Rainer Erani.
24 reviews5 followers
May 30, 2020
Well written, a fun read with a lot of the authors personality being shown. Blatantly convicts and confronts my sinfulness, making me feel exposed to everyone who's read this book and that I've told my "number" to. But... best of all, it gives good steps for spiritual transformation. This book gives a good platform to start building empathy towards neighbors and helps teach the reader how to best love those around them.
Profile Image for Sara Khosravi.
57 reviews12 followers
October 20, 2020
برخلاف چيزي كه فكر ميكردم بسيار كتاب جالبي بود.

خود شناسي طبق اينياگرام از اين جهت جذابه كه اولاً اينطوري نيست كه هر فرد صرفاً تو يه تايپ شخصيتي خاص قرار بگيره و يجورايي از هر تايپ ميشه يه سري ويژگيا رو داشت.

دوم اينكه،ميشه يكمي بهتر رفتار اطرافيان و به ويژه افراد نزديك تر رو درك كرد .

و سوم اينكه اينجوري نيست كه نويسنده بگه شما فلان رفتار و افكار رو دارين و نقطه!بلكه يه سري توصيه هاي مفيد داره كه به نظرم ميتونه مثل تلنگر باشه.
Profile Image for Bonnie DeMoss.
762 reviews84 followers
March 30, 2020
The Road Back To You explores the Enneagram personality theory, which says there are 9 basic personality types for everyone in the world.

I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with the Enneagram model. The book, however, doesn’t give you a clearcut way to find your Enneagram. You’re supposed to look at each model, answer some questions, and figure out which one you are. What if you can’t figure it out? On any given day I’ve been a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 8. A quiz with a definitive answer would be great.

My biggest problem with this particular book is that the author’s “examples” of different personality types usually involve pushing a leftist political viewpoint and insulting those who don’t share it.

I was surprised to find out this was supposed to be a Christian book. I don’t see anything Christian about it at all.

I am still interested in the Enneagram theory, but will look for a book by an author without a political agenda and a book that truly helps you find your Enneagram.
Profile Image for Pat.
158 reviews1 follower
August 7, 2022
This book is a great place to start learning about the Enneagram. It's clear and well-organized. The "What's it like to be a ..." questions at the beginning of each chapter were very helpful to members of my study group. The group loved this book. John O'Donohue's beautiful Blessing for Solitude is included near the beginning and again at the end of the book:

"May you recognize in your life the presence, power, and light of your soul.
May you realize that you are never alone, that your soul in its brightness and Belonging connects you intimately with the rhythm of the universe.
May you have respect for your individuality and difference.
May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique, that you have a special destiny here, that behind the facade of your life there is something beautiful and eternal happening.
May you learn to see your self with the same delight, pride, and expectation with which God sees you in every moment."

An Enneagram journey of self-discovery and self-knowledge with Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile assists the reader in reaching these realizations. Our relationships with ourselves, each other, and our loved ones have been transformed by our study of the Enneagram.
Profile Image for Yolanda Smith.
224 reviews25 followers
September 4, 2019
I’m way behind on the Enneagram craze, but since I’ve cracked the pages of this book I’m fully intrigued. For over a year I’ve mistyped myself as a three (faulty online testing) but this book made me take a step back, actually a few steps back, and really study the good-bad-ugly in my life. No doubt about it, I’m a seven. I’ve had a lot of fun digging through this book, as well as some painful (but necessary) moments.
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