In this bonus episode of the Awareness to Action Enneagram podcast, Mario Sikora, María José Munita and Seth "Creek" Creekmore revisit the pattern of expressions and the instinctual biases. Creek asks Mario why his view on the pattern of expressions is exempt from the falsifiability standard.
“Once we’re agreed on the definitions, which may be different from other people, and if you’re using a different definition, then that’s fine. What I’m suggesting doesn't apply to different definitions, but to these definitions, to all the empirical experience I have over 25 years, it holds up.” -Mario [10:26]
“I’ve seen people who for different circumstances have developed skills and habits that are different to what we understand through the pattern of expression or it has to do with their preferred strategy. There are different reasons. And to me, it doesn’t really matter because if we go back to understanding that the Enneagram is a model, and they’re all wrong, but some are useful. This part of the model, the pattern of expression, is useful most of the time, and I think it’s valid for that reason.” -María José [11:40]
“The more I’ve gotten into the Enneagram, the more I’m less interested in being a ‘Enneagram person,’ but rather just a skilled user of the Enneagram that is more focused on the flourishing of myself and those around me.” -Creek [16:26]
[02:20] Mario’s view on pattern of expression not falsifiable
[07:24] Mario’s observations on instinctual biases
[10:47] Non-intentional focus of attention
[14:40] Leaps of inference
Connect with us:
Pod: Enneagram in a Movie
Maria Jose Munita:
Seth "Creek" Creekmore:
Pod: Delusional Optimism
And we're back. Awareness to Action Enneagram podcast. Um, I’m a little scared. I'm supposed to be asking a smart question. I'm afraid that I might get shut down.María José:
How many times have you thought about asking these questions, Creek?Creek:
Well, it's just kind of been in the back of my mind. And I mean, in all of my conversations, every single one of my conversations, like, why does Mario actually think that he's right? I mean, what makes him any better than the rest of us?Mario:
Not better Creek, just smarter.María José:
Yeah. And he talks in a declarative way. When I learned that, when I understood that, make my life so much easier.Creek:
Just got any thoughts confidently.Mario:
So I'll share a quick story to illustrate this. So, years and years ago, um, I had a real job. And we had to go through this personality style training that was like this quadratic model of drivers and analyticals, and some kind of pleaser type and so forth. And so, of course, I came up on the squares that driving driver, right?María José:
Double dose of whatever is higher.Mario:
Exactly, right. And so they put me into an exercise with the amiable they're called. And so they give us this exercise to do, and we're doing the exercise and we got to help each other out and so forth. And then they come into the room and they say to all the amiable, okay, you amiables can only now make declarative statements. And Mario, you can only ask questions. And so they're going around, and they're trying to make declarative sentences, and they can’t, right? They kept having to force themselves into it, and then it came my turn to try and give instructions by only asking a question. And so I said, Well, you put this over there, okay? So, I can be overly declarative.Creek:
But that wasn't really the question, so go ahead.Creek:
No, it wasn’t really the question, but there is, there is something to the question that I wish I would have asked the last couple of episodes was when it comes to the pattern of expression, and in a lot of just your model, you've changed a lot of things, and I think it's for good reason, but what makes your view of the pattern of expression, that order, even though it's not really a stacking, right? What makes that not falsifiable?Mario:
Falsifiability is the attempt to disprove something through a test, through an experiment. And…María José:
Should I be taking notes here?Creek:
Professor. Well, falsifiability…Mario:
Oh boy. All right.Creek:
Take two.María José:
No, no, no. That’s staying.Mario:
Well, we’ll keep that in, right, because that’s staying. Okay. So, what was the question?Creek:
Falsifiability. What makes a pattern of expression? Why are you exempt from….Mario:
The falsifiability standard?Creek:
Exactly, there it is.Mario:
Yeah. So because in this case, the falsifiability standard doesn't apply, quite frankly. All right. And no, no, no, let me let me explain why.Creek:
You’re the exception. Got it.Mario:
The rules don’t apply to me, Creek. No. See, what we were talking about before when we were discussing falsifiability was causal mechanisms. We were talking about is somebody a type because this happened to them.
And so you're positing a cause in that case that can't be tested. So therefore, it's non falsifiable. I am not suggesting for example, I forget exactly even what we were talking about.
But say for example, because one of the common ones is childhood relationships with the parents. Now, I'm not suggesting that a particular type might express yes, I don't feel like my mother loved me well enough. But did that cause them to be that type? I don't know. Did they experience that because they were already that type, and therefore interpreted their environment that way? Could be. Or are they just falling victim to confirmation bias and say, oh, the teacher told me on this type because my mother didn't love me enough. And I can find experiences of my mother not loving me enough? So when you're talking about a causal mechanism, you have to apply the falsifiability test.
Now, when it comes to the pattern of expression, I'm not claiming there's any cause in it. In fact, we were explaining that we stay away from any cause. We're not saying that it happens for a particular reason, although we could. So we're not making any sort of causal claim. Now, what we are doing is sharing our empirical experience. Empiricism is making assessments about something, either through testing or through observation. And so the pattern of expression, as we describe it, is the result of our observations of people in the world and how they act. And so we have observed this pattern. And even though I think it happens all the time, I can't prove that because I haven't met everybody yet. So there's eight billion people on the planet. There might be some out there who do not fit the pattern. I don't know. But in my experience, everybody has.
As with any phenomenon, you have to start thinking in terms of probability. I'm a skeptic by nature. And if you go to radical skepticism, you know, the kind of like David Hume, you can't believe everything is going to happen all the time, because we just don't know. You don't know with 100% certainty that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow. But at a certain point, you have to start acting as if it will. Or else you just can't live your life. You can't know for 100% certainty that gravity will work. But I have to act as if it will, because I've seen it enough times, without exception, to start saying, you know what, there's something to this. Now, the other question that you didn't ask, has to do with confirmation bias.María José:
That was a smart question, Creek.Mario:
See? Phew. That is a smart question, yeah.Creek:
Yeah. Well, I mean, yeah, you're about to get into it, but that was going to be my follow-up question, is that what makes your observations of the instinctual biases any more or less valid than how other people approach it?María José:
Especially when we see somebody who doesn’t… They don't see themselves kind of fitting into this pattern. And then I say, No, it's because of these. We’ll rationalize the observation so that they do. And I do think that it applies to everyone that I've met at least, but it could be that we're falling victim of confirmation bias.Mario:
So what I tend to say regarding this, is I am not trying to talk about somebody's inner experience. I am not trying to talk about what someone is. I'm describing specific patterns. And it's also why I'm not saying most second, most third, most, when it comes to the instinctual biases. I'm saying the patterns that I tend to see in people is that one of them is one that takes up a lot of their attention, and they have enthusiasm about. Another one they have inner conflict about. And another one they don't pay enough attention to, because they don't think it's interesting. That I have not seen an exception to in practice.
Now, when I do work with clients, I do 360 assessments of them. And I've done hundreds of these over the years. And so I have data that shows me what people's patterns are. And when I do a 360 assessment, I asked three questions. First question is, what's this person good at? What do they need to get better at? And where do you see them in the future? I purposely ask open ended questions, so I'm not leading the feedback. And it has just been my experience over and over and over again, and so far without exception that for preservers, they're weaker area is in the transmitting domain, the most underdeveloped. For navigators, their most underdeveloped area is in the preserving domain. And for transmitters, the most underdeveloped area is in the navigating domain.
Now, again, there's going to be people who disagree with that. But they're going to define those terms in a different way. They're going to talk about social instead of navigating. So once we're agreed on the definitions, which may be different from other people. And if you're using a different definition, then that's fine. What I'm suggesting doesn't apply to different definitions. But to these definitions, to all the empirical experience I have over 25 years, it holds up.Creek:
María José, what do you have to say?María José:
Great, so that's the end of the episode.María José:
No, I agree. I think that although I agree, it's something to be aware of, something to continue to pay attention to.Mario:
I would love…María José:
Would you really?Mario:
I would love to see an exception. I'd be shocked, but I would love to see a genuine exception to the pattern. Because I would learn something. I would see, hey, wait a minute, there's something different going on here. And quite frankly, I'd have to, I would get to stop defending this idea, which I've been doing for 15 years or so.Creek:
Which’d be difficult to do on some level.Mario:
It would be difficult to do, but it would be a sign of intellectual integrity.María José:
And I've seen people who for different circumstances, have developed skills and habits that are different to what we understand through the pattern of expression, or it has to do with their strategy, their preferred strategy or they’re different reasons. And to me, it doesn't really matter. Because if we go back to understanding that the Enneagram is a model, and they're all wrong, but some are useful. This part of the model, the pattern of expression, is useful most of the time, and I think that it's valid for that reason.Mario:
I also think that it's important to remember the difference between skillfulness at something which can be learned and attention to something, which is kind of innate. And I'll say non-deliberate, non-intentional attention to something. Because I can point to navigators who thrived in finance roles or operation roles. And people will say, Oh, well, that's all preserving stuff, so they must be good at it. But each one I talked to, it's a learned skill that is not something that they really enjoy. And if they had the option, their mind would tend to go away from the actual preserving parts of those roles and more to the navigating parts of those roles.
It's like, you know, we've talked before, I think on this podcast or at least other places, that a lot of women feel compelled to do preserving stuff, but they're not preservers. Again, if you look at the them from the outside, you would say, oh, you know, she cooks, she cleans. She does this, she does that. Must be preserver. And a lot of women identify themselves as preservers because of that, but they're not. They're just somebody who is doing things, doing tasks or behaviors that we associate with that instinctual domain. So what we're talking about here are our non-intentional focuses of attention. And since we live 90% of our lives non-intentionally, that’s a lot of our lives.Creek:
Well, on that glorious note.Mario:
Any other question, Mr. Smarty Pants? No, but this is an important topic, because you have to keep challenging these ideas. Otherwise, dogma sets in. And everybody who is a teacher of anything has to keep asking themselves, what if I am wrong? How do I know I'm right? How could I set up some sort of experiment to see if I'm wrong or not? Look for counter examples. I just haven't found any yet.Creek:
When do you know when you're not making as large of leaps of inference? Like how do you know I've done enough work with confirmation bias that I know that there's some level of dependency I can put on this idea or concept?Mario:
So that's a little bit complicated because it's not like you can keep a score. But, you know, I think that's something you have to feel. But here's the process to protect yourself from that. You gather the data first, and then see if it fits the pattern. Now you can go into some, you know, so for again, right now I'm doing an assessment of an organization, a leadership team. And I'm asking them questions, what's working well? What's not working well? What things are getting done? what things are not getting done? And I just started doing it, so I don't know how it's going to turn out.
My suspicion is that it's a preserving organization. And therefore, some of the navigating and transmitting things are going to be underdeveloped. But I'll wait and see. And I'll look at what the data says. And again, the data has to be that I collect what's working well, and what's not working well. It's not, Oh, are you guys preserving or navigating or transmitting? I wouldn't go in and explain the concepts, and then say, which of these are you?Creek:
The Enneagram is secondary.Mario:
It's absolutely secondary. The Enneagram is a tool to solve a problem, and that problem is improving performance and helping people see the obstacles that get in the way of change.Creek:
That's a whole other rant we could probably go on, but the more I've gotten into the Enneagram, the more I'm less interested in being a quote unquote, Enneagram person, but rather just a skilled user of the Enneagram. That is more focused on the flourishing of myself and those around me, and whatever tool fits the job, then that’s what I want to do. But I see so many people where it's like, they have one tool in their toolbox, and it's the Enneagram, and it shows. Yeah.Mario:
Yes, you're absolutely right. And we see this all the time with people going into organizations, for example. I'm seeing more and more of this these days with people. They’re teaching the Enneagram somewhere, and somebody sees and says, Hey, can you come do this at our company, and they don't understand that teaching the Enneagram in a church or in a self-help workshop or something is different than teaching it in a company, when they don't know anything about business. They don't know anything about organizational dynamics. And they go in and just think that the same ideas are gonna apply, and I can just take this tool and solve your problems.
They can’t because those folks aren't interested in being Enneagram experts either. They’re interested in improving performance, improving communication, increasing collaboration, so forth. So the Enneagram is just grist for the mill. For us, what we're really selling, by lack of a better word, is the Awareness to Action process. How do you help people change? And the Enneagram types and the instinctual biases are just the variables that we slip into the Awareness to Action process to help people develop awareness, create more authenticity, and then express new actions.Creek:
Ah, so with that, dear listener, hopefully some of your questions were qualmed. Is that the right word? Qualmed?Mario:
Qualmed. What does that mean? Qualmed.Mario:
I'm not sure if qualm does a word, but I have no qualms with that right? So that's that's interesting. I don't even know…Creek:
Quelled. Quelled! Quelled is the word I want.Mario:
I'd stick with answered.Creek:
Okay, Mr. Big Words. Hopefully some of your questions were answered. And we hope you'll continue to be curious with us as we move forward into strategies and other concepts with the Awareness to Action model. We'll see you next week.María José:
So long, guys.Creek:
Thanks for listening to the Awareness to Action Enneagram podcast. If you're interested in more information or talking to Mario, MJ or myself, feel free to reach out to us through the links in the show notes or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. All episode transcriptions and further information can be found at awarenesstoaction.com/podcast.