Enneagram, Identity & Purpose, Self Enneagram Five: The Investigator

By Hannah Stapleton


Read the Enneagram series here.

If I could be any number on the Enneagram, I would want to be a Five. Fives are ruthless in their pursuit of knowledge and truth. At their healthiest, they have depth and balance, and are engaged in their surroundings and relationships. At their most unhealthy, they become defensive, valuing their independence and privacy above all else. If you find your nose always stuck in a book and always chose a night in versus a night out, you might be a Five!


The Passion or Deadly Sin of Fives is Avarice – they have a deep desire to retain and protect the little resources they believe they have. Most Fives have a scarcity mindset; they are always worried when they will run out of time and energy. Part of the Head/Fear triad, Fives fear the outside world and withdraw. When they are stressed, they look like unhealthy Sevens: they become disorganized and clingy. In times of growth, the take on traits of healthy Eights. They are spontaneous and outspoken, fully present and engaged.

Tim Ayers (TA) is the Teaching Pastor at Grace Church.
Joanna Burress (JB) is a 35-year-old mom of 3 boys (4, 6, & 8) and a business analyst at a software company in Carmel. She has been at Grace for 22 years, since she was in junior high! She is one of the leaders of Listening Table, a group focused on combating racism, as well as one of the leaders of the Grace Volunteer Photography team. Joanna and her family live in downtown Noblesville and attend the Fishers campus.
What’s your favorite thing about being a 5?
JB: I love that 5s can take a step back and dispassionately and logically look at a topic or issue. I feel like this helps me in crises or in disagreements where others are emotional and biased. (I may be biased, but I have researched and peer-reviewed reasons for it ;-) ) I love spending time with other 5s and it being OK to be a nerd about things, not getting weird looks when I start sentences with ""Hey, I heard about this on NPR and [insert weird, obscure fact]""
TA: I like being someone that can speak wisdom into situations. I am not very vocal in most circumstances, but people that know me, respect what I have to say when I do speak up.
What’s the worst or hardest thing about being a 5?
JB: Being afraid of people. (Only kidding a little bit.) It's hard being terrible at small talk.
I'm self-aware enough to know that empathy is not my strength. I can recognize the facts of the situation, the injustices or hardships that brought a person to a hard place but feeling emotion along with another does not come naturally to me.
TA: To be honest, it’s always a bad thing when I assume, I am most likely the smartest person in the room. It is a bad aspect of being a 5. I tend to see the big picture right away and can’t stand it when others dive into the details or try to enliven things with what I can’t help but see as superfluous things.
If you could describe your number in three words, what would you pick?
JB: Curious, Logical, Analytical
TA: Independent, Thoughtful, Knowledgeable. 
When did you know you’d found your number?
JB: When I was reading from The Road Back To You and my husband laughed out loud because it was so spot-on for me. Also, the Enneagram Institute description was relatable and detailed. It was helpful for me to look at the relationship between my number and my husband's number and see, yes, this is the dynamic in our relationship, so it's likely I'm a 5.
TA: I first took the test in 2011 and was made aware of my number. There was no question at all that this was my number.
What’s one thing about your number you think everyone should know?
JB: As a 5, I have boundaries, but I also respect boundaries to a high degree, so I'm not going to reach out to you, but that doesn't mean I don't want to pursue a friendship or don't care about you. I'm just bad at it. 
TA: I can’t help it that I remember what I learn and that I put things into the fullest of perspectives. People tend to wonder about where 5’s keep all of that ‘knowledge/wisdom’ but it’s just in there.
What’s your wing? How does that play in to your dominant type?
JB: I think my 6 wing makes me more able to synthesize data for something useful. 
TA: 6. It makes it more likely that I will participate in group things. I don’t naturally care if others are involved in what I am doing. The wing gives me a sense that it’s worth being a part of the ‘team.’
How does the Enneagram play into your vocation?
JB: I was a computer science major, which is pretty typical for 5s. My 6 wing and Social instinct has pushed me out of programming day-to-day and into business analysis at a software company, where I work with developers and often become the expert for the business case for our varied clients and can translate the business needs into programmer-speak. As a 5, I like learning each new niche industry, sometimes very quickly, and I like becoming the expert. I like seeing all the needs a system needs to do and bringing bits and pieces together into a plan and concrete list of tasks.
My volunteer roles are similar: becoming an expert, sharing information, and organizing behind the scenes. For Listening Table, I run the social media (Facebook and Twitter) and post articles I find to help educate about systemic racism in our community and culture. Niche interests and research are what 5s do best!
TA: I am a pastor and my calling/vocation is based around me being a wise, thoughtful, knowledgeable person. My number is a HUGE part of the way that I am perceived by our congregation. My role as a pastor at Grace Church could almost be described as being the best 5 that I can be at all times. My task is to stay resourceful and as I do, I will be the best pastor I can be.
How does your knowledge of Enneagram affect or influence your relationships?
JB: My understanding of the Enneagram influences all of my relationships.  With my friends and family, my understanding of their type helps me see their behavior in context (""He's challenging my ideas bluntly, but he's an 8, so I can push back and our friendship will be stronger for it."" or ""My friends are over and cleaning my kitchen after dinner- I feel judged for having a messy kitchen, but when I understand they're a 1 or have a 1 wing, I can see they're doing it out of love, not (necessarily) judgement.""). With my husband, we've been able to talk a lot about our tendencies using the language of the Enneagram and I'm able to understand his needs better. For example, he can understand I'm in the Fear triad, so I will want to talk about plans and contingencies more than he feels the need to. I can understand, as a 9, his energy level isn't the same as mine, especially when I'm under stress and want to go-go-go like a 7. I've resisted typing my kids, because experts say not to. I do tend over-think, ""If he is an X, is there anything I can do to let him be who he is more fully, or minimize his childhood wound?"" 
Overall, understanding the Enneagram helps me give others grace.
TA: It helps me understand why I see things so differently than other people and it often explains others very-different reactions to the same moment. But I tend to see the Enneagram as a way for self-reflection far more than I do as a way to influence my relationships with others. 
How does the Enneagram affect your faith? Do you use it as spiritual practice?
JB: As a 5, I hold Facts and Truth in high regard, and knowing Truths will quiet my fears and help me trust. Holding onto the truths I know about God, while holding loosely and being open to learning things I don't yet know or I may have wrong, is the basis of my faith. When I've been in crisis, having someone remind me of the bedrock, the unchanging truths about God's character, is the way I get through
TA: I would say that it has had a great influence in the way I approach my faith. My instincts are to do a great deal of study on my own to find ways to understand and explain things. This is normal for a 5 and it is very helpful when dealing with a ancient faith that is often shrouded in mystery.
How does the Enneagram bring you closer to God, if it does?
JB: See above. J
TA: I am unsure that I can answer this one. I would say that the way that I have been created affords me ways to grow closer to God, but the Enneagram itself is not something that I see as a means to getting closer to God
What are some resources you would offer to other 5s?
JB: Enneagram Instagram accounts, including @5ishandIknowit, are fun.
TA: The only resource that comes to mind is to talk to David Bell. He knows so much about this and he can help anyone with figuring out what is what related to Enneagram. I do know that I rarely meet other 5’s that seem to be anything like me. Either I am an uber-5 or one unresourceful aspect of being a 5 is that you never see anything of great worth in other 5s.

Resources for Fives

The Enneagram Institute
The Typology Podcast
Sleeping at Last “Five”
The Road Back to You Podcast with Kenny Benge


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