The Enneagram Type THREE personality wants to succeed, avoid failure, and be the best or first. They are goal-oriented workaholics whose charm, ambition, energy, and competitive nature serve their need for personal advancement. They feel like the whole world is watching them, and they want all due approval and recognition. They aren’t particularly concerned with being liked. Feelings make them uncomfortable and impede forward movement.
THREES view life as though they’re climbing a mountain or working a machine. They are doers and go-getters who don’t like to sit around. They’ve got “to do” lists by the bed, on the kitchen table, in the car, and at work. They’re constantly multitasking and gladly take short cuts to make forward progress. THREES harbor the false sense that their world will crash and burn if they stop moving. There’s security in knowing that everything can be pushed aside in order to deliver the goods. They don’t like to sit around. Free time can make them feel lost.
THREES are chameleonlike and adopt personas that they believe will lead to a good result. They assume roles with the potential to be rewarding and applauded, and get rid of everything else. People pay attention to them due to their confidence, lack of doubt, and inspirational personality. THREES focus on the art of persuasion and presentation to achieve results; it’s all about performance. They’ll tell you what you want to hear and believe it when they say it. They’ll massage their image until it works, and may lose themselves in the process. They can get so caught up in their own press releases that they disconnect from reality.
THREES won’t do something if they can’t win or will feel shame. Failure exposes inadequacy and will be avoided at all costs. (They’ll even avoid you if they think you’ll be a failure!) Rather than endure humiliation, they’ll cut-and-run and have a story about it. That attitude cuts them off from experiencing things that could bring joy but for which they may not be stellar and/or have an awkward beginner stage.
The THREE’s wings draw their attention to those who are suffering and forgotten (FOUR) and compel them to take up the mantle to help them thrive (TWO). These influences transform compassion into a call for action. They’ll push information and encouragement onto others in the confident belief that the objects of their discourse will be better for it. They’re also driven to put their personal stamp on everything (FOUR) while creating devoted followers (TWO) under their leadership (THREE).
THREES are also influenced by their dominant instinct:
- Self-Preservation THREES work hard to attain a level of success that provides for their material security and stability. While they appreciate recognition for their achievements, they put more faith in the quality of their work and the efficiency with which they prosecute it. They value integrity and work hard to be who they say they are.
- One-to-One THREES place greater emphasis on their personal appeal than their worldly success. They want to be desired and admired by important others; they take great pride in having an alluring mate to show off. To that end, One-to-One THREES are as invested in their physical packaging as they are in their personal and intellectual competencies.
- Social THREES are status seekers who bask in the limelight and pine for influence and applause. For them, pedigrees and credentials matter as do neighborhoods, cars, social circles, and designer labels. They are great image makers and networkers. They use their political will to do good and work hard to raise everybody up.
While all of that external focus can pay dividends in terms of personal advancement, it can have a deleterious impact on THREES. Their chameleon nature can cause them to lose sight of who they really are or what they really want. They can become slaves to the images that they’re trying to maintain. They can also be so caught up in work that they fail to make time for restorative activities and authentically intimate relationships.
Under stress, THREES may adopt characteristics of an Unhealthy NINE. They shut down and numb out in response to the relentless pursuit of success. While maintaining an outward appearance of busyness, their attention may be drawn to unimportant tasks. They may also get caught up in a fantasy world surrounding their next big success and put pressing concerns on hold until that day dawns.
The antidote to stress lies in developing the capacity to recognize when they’re living into a false image of themselves rather than speaking and acting authentically. The path to enlightenment requires that they drop the need to achieve and public acclaim. That level of clarity can be attained by taking time to relax and allow for thoughtful reflection on what is really going on. It’s also supported by cultivating trusted relationships that welcome forthright communication.
THREES find strength in movement toward a Healthy SIX. From this position, THREES discover the voice of their inner guidance and gain the courage to embody their true nature. They commit to projects and relationships that hold personal significance irrespective of public opinion. They are loyal and evoke loyalty in others.