Get in the mood for "Six" by listening to this: Jaws' Theme Song

Life is nasty, brutish and short.

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

It is only the rule of law and the threat of punishment that keep us in check." The consequence of this, Hobbes argued, was that if society broke down and you had to live in what he called 'a state of nature', without laws or anyone with the power to back them up, you, like everyone else, would steal and murder when necessary. At least, you'd have to do that if you wanted to carry on living. In a world of scarce resources, particularly if you were struggling to find food and water to survive, it could actually be rational to kill other people before they killed you. In Hobbes' memorable description, life outside society would be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short".

But Hobbes' theory did not end there: he wanted to find a way out of such an undesirable situation. 'The solution, Hobbes argued, was to put some powerful individual or parliament in charge. The individuals in the state of nature would have to enter into a 'social contract', an agreement to give up some of their dangerous freedoms for the sake of safety. Without what he called a 'sovereign', life would be a kind of hell. This sovereign would be given the right to inflict severe punishment on anyone who stepped out of line. […] Laws are no good if there isn't someone or something strong enough to make everyone follow them.' (Nigel Warburton, A Little History of Philosophy)

An Enneagram habit, in this case, Six, creates a world view. We may not be conscious of our world-view but we are quite conscious of others' because we say, either consciously or unconsciously, "I can't tell her that." You know her worldview will not include what you may want to say. The worldview of a Six is clear in Hobbes. It is a dangerous and hostile world; it's all about survival in a hostile environment. There is no intrinsic reason we can live in harmony; we need an outside organizing principle –in this case a strong authority.

Sixes often give their power away to a boss or teacher or pastor or leader of some kind. They can see themselves in a servant or at least a supportive position. When they are healthy they support leaders and structures that nurture the common good, and especially nurture traditions and community values.

The high side of style Six. Country music has a lot of style six songs. They are fiercely loyal to a location (Galveston, Alabama, Oklahoma), and are loyal to just being country. Here's a classic country song, "Stand by your man."." Notice that Tammy Wynette says it is difficult but you have to be loyal –and forgive. Sixes can forgive many things, except betrayal.

If Sixes are more in the trance of their Enneagram habit, they can be led astray by their loyalty. We have a vivid example in Michael Cohen - Trumps lawyer. He boasted of his loyalty, saying he would take a bullet for Trump. Spoken like a good loyal style Six. But Sixes require returned loyalty, so when Cohen saw Trump betray him, he turned against him. But you may have noticed htat how he formulated his new positions, "I will be loyal to my family and my country," Keeps the loyalty. When he repented and confessed, he said "I was blinded by my loyalty to Trump." Observers might scorn his talk about loyalty or be confused by it, but it illustrates a principle I use in coaching: If something doesn't make sense on a behavioral level, it often does on an Enneagram level.

To return to Hobbes, it is the individual who is vulnerable in this hostile world. Sixes are the guardians of tradition, family, and community and are often superbly able to deal with bureaucracy. Their attention to detail, reliability when they work, respect for both spoken and unspoken rules make them the kind of people you want to have behind the counter when you are renewing your driver's license.

Sixes, especially phobic Sixes, are usually pleasant and agreeable-- smooth in their relationships. Their emotional pleasantness, however, hides the negative content of their thinking. Their inner world can be dark and dangerous like Hobbes (above and Hamlet (below). They are pessimists, expecting the worst and preparing for by it by anticipatory anxiety, oscillating surveillance and trying to control the future with careful planning. Be prepared is only half the motto. Be alert is the other half. Hamlet describes how difficult and prickly the world is and explains why appropriate action is so difficult for a Six. Thinking is the balance and enemy of action. Sixes often paralyze themselves with over-thinking and trying to solve all difficulties before beginning a project or implementing an idea. A phrase like paralysis by analysis was probably first uttered by a Six.

To be or not to be, that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep—

No more—and by a sleep to say we end

The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks

The flesh is heir to! 'Tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep—

To sleep, perchance to dream; ay, there's the rub,

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause. There's the respect

hat makes calamity of so long life:

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time

Th'oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,

he pangs of despised love, the law's delay,

The insolence of office, the spurns

The patient merit of unworthy takes,

When he himself his quietus make

With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the read of something after death,

The undiscovered country, from whose bourn

No traveler returns, puzzles the will,

And makes us rather bear those ills we have,

Than fly to others we know not of?

Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all,

And the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,

And enterprise of great pitch and moment,

With this regard their currents turn awry,

And lose the name of action.


Hamlet III,I,56-88

When I coach Sixes I mention how many Sixes say that they really suffer from anticipatory anxiety, but when a real crisis hits, they become almost clinically calm and deal with the reality at hand. They don't fear the present, they fear the future – as does Hamlet in several ways. "Perchance to dream" and "the undiscovered country" and "bearing the ills we know" instead of "others we know not." Fear paralyzes.

Woody Allen, himself a famous phobic Six, gives us a brilliant conversation in Crimes and Misdemeanors. In this four minute clip, you see Judah, a counterphobic six, project on to Dolores what he ends up doing. You also see him refuse to move from thinking into action, badgering his brother for ideas that will solve his problem. He rejects the aggressive suggestions by his style Eight brother and then repeats requests for actions. He gets angry when faced with making a decision.

In the popular Daytime series, Monk, you can see how a style Six both puts his searching for what is wrong to good use and how he controls everyone around him by his inner limitations. Monk notices everything, has multiple fears and is highly intellectual.

In the movie, Ransom, (Mel Gibson, himself a Six), plays a style Six whose son has been kidnapped. The plot is the Six dynamic in addition his character. He has some guilt in his past that we know of which he denies. When his son is kidnapped, he becomes frightened and does exactly what he is told. But when the kidnappers fail to release his son, he immediately assumes the worst. He says he knows his son will be murdered, so he offers a million-dollar reward for their capture. Assuming the worst is a Six specialty and he acts it out. He will not believe anything else. That's a Six in a deep trance.

Here's my song about a Six: Thin le Blues.

Horror movies as a genre are designed to activate fear and the Six-ish dynamic is the music that creates anticipatory anxiety—the kind that makes little kids scream, "Don't open that!"

The most famous style Six novel is probably The Brothers Karamazov. Raskolnikov's murder is even an expression of loyalty to his mother and sister, Judith Searle says. If you want to feel like a Six feels, read his obsessive thinking about the murder long before he actually does it. Because Sixes feel so much fear, they see themselves as victims, so it is very hard for them to claim fault. In the movie Crimes and Misdemeanors, Judah has to vilify Dolores and Raskolnikov and employs the same dynamic.

When I coach Sixes, we always begin with trust. Until trust, personal and professional, is established, nothing can happen. Neither of us must assume trust – it has to be built and more often than not, tested a bit. Personal growth for style Six has to begin with various kinds of trust in themselves – their worth, their ideas, their energy, their competence and finally their spirituality, their place in the world. Mary Oliver explains how excitement can replace fear, always,

It was hard to tell fear from excitement:

How sensual

The lightning's

Poured stroke and still,

What a fire and risk!

As always, the body

wants to hide,

wants to flow toward it---strive

to balance while

fear shouts,

excitement shouts, back

and forth---each

bolt a burning river

tearing like escape through the dark

field of the other.


(Mary Oliver, Lightning)