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The Art of Four II: Playing With Others

In our last blog, we presented an overview of the Enneagram Type 4. As you’ll recall, the Type 4 is commonly referred to as the ‘artist’ of the Enneagram; fiercely individual, obsessed with uniqueness, and driven by the need for creation and beauty. It’s easy to see why the creative world is full of Number Fours: their basic desire is for authenticity and self-expression; their basic fear is an insignificant life. In short, the Type 4 is determined to leave a lasting impression on the world

While art is often a sacred arena where this significance can be found, a Type Four’s search for beauty can sometimes take them to an isolated place; they can often drown in their own search for depth. For this reason, Fours can often make great artists, but terrible collaborators. 

The question for a Number Four then is, how can I contribute to a healthy creative community? How can I be my best in an environment like the recording studio, or the songwriting room, where cooperation is key, and compromise is often required? With a little self-awareness, and a healthy balance, it can be achieved. 

Here are a few tips for working best as Number Four:

Allow room for play
As a Four, you’re best when you’re lost in the creative search. Practically, this means it’s important to make room for play in the studio, allowing space to go down necessary rabbit holes and explore stories that lead to authentic expression. 

Make peace with the ordinary
When creating, your favourite place to be is chasing the muse, plumbing the depths for unique inspiration. But much of the creative act is ordinary; finding chord structures, endless vocal takes and melody tweaks. According to Richard Rohr, a healthy Four learns to find beauty in the ordinary. Arthur Koestler speaks about finding a balance between the tragic and the trivial. You’ll work best when you can balance the magic with the mundane.

Don’t compare
A Four’s main challenge is described as envy; the constant comparison to others – at its worst, this can be a handbrake for a creative. When collaborating, it’s important for you to not only know the value you bring, but to accept that others can have valuable input too, and that this doesn’t have to result in compromised art – in fact, it can often create a thing that is better than the sum of its parts. 

Don’t get lost in your emotions
The mantra of the Four is “my feelings are my reality”. In a creative collaboration, you’ll be great at plumbing the depths for inspiration, but you’ll often need help with re-entry into the real world. Yong Kang Chan calls this learning to “live on land and not on sea”. In a collaborative setting, Fours need to learn to balance emotion and inspiration with logic and objectivity. When working in a team, you will be great at finding a great idea, but you’ll need people around you to ensure that you don’t get lost in that idea. In a studio setting, Fours make great explorers, disappearing into themselves to find a story, a great truth or abstraction. It then becomes the job of the people around you to bring that abstraction to ground, to give it a melody and chords. You’ll work best when you realise your place as the group’s treasure hunter. 

To read more about the Number Four at work, check out this overview.

Luke Oram