Enneagram Type THREE

                                    The Achiever

Threes are success and image-conscious, dynamic, self-driving people who want to excel and be the best they can.

At their best, they are driven to obtain excellence and can become exemplary and be role models in the areas they master. They are highly focused and know how to effectively set and meet goals. They want to bring out the best in themselves and are willing to keep sacrificing a great deal to achieve excellence, but at the same time they are accepting of themselves as they are. Their self-acceptance and confidence comes from within, not from the need to impress others and obtain external validation. They are sincere and realistic with themselves, and it is possible to see their heart together with their usually energetic attitude. They are inspirational and motivational in helping you achieve your goals, injecting hope in you that you are capable of attaining your potential. Although they are ambitious and are able to subordinate present needs in order to attain excellence in all they do, they know how to be supportive team players who can respectfully and inspirationally coach the other team members and inject hope in those who feel behind. They are hard workers, but work doesn't become everything for them; they are also committed to their family and friends. They are great communicators, receptive to people, personable and sociable, fast moving, fast learners, eager and enthusiastic, full of a go-ahead energy, entrepreneurial, efficient, practical, independent, ambitious, energetic, competent, persistent, and industrious.

In the Stuckness Zone, an intense desire to impress others starts running inside them. An “I must be and look successful” belief dominates their thinking. Consequently, their attention automatically goes in these two directions: on one hand, how to be successful; on the other, how to look successful.

In order to be successful, they believe they must work hard to get things done quickly and efficiently. Their attention automatically goes to tasks and goals, which in itself can be a good thing, but they can become overactive workaholics who never take a rest and are unable to slow down their tempo and pace. Work becomes their only focus. Their own feelings (and other people's feelings) are seen as distracting obstacles to their efficient, machine-like desired performance. Other people may be themselves seen as obstacles in their way to obtain their goals, and the Three begins playing more for himself or herself and less as a cooperative team player with others. They are tougher and impatient with people, especially if they perceive them as inefficient, incompetent, or hesitant. A strong competitive drive arises, and with it a desire to always be on top of others in as many aspects of life as possible, as if life was a game to be won. Failure is not an option for them. If they try to attain success “the faster the better,” they may adopt a “the end justifies the means” frame of mind. They can become manipulative, unprincipled, and unscrupulous.

In order to look successful, they believe they must carefully cultivate a successful image and promote themselves. Their attention tends to go automatically to the way they look and how they are perceived by others. They may become image-conscious performers, trying too hard to mask their real self in order to be seen as successful and obtain external approval, acceptance, and appreciation for their achievements. They adopt the language of selling and self-promotion. This makes them chameleonic and makes them act adaptively to whatever they believe will win the admiration of others in every situation and context. They will try to project prestige, status, professionalism, beauty, or whatever their social context will value as ideal. In a parallel approach to their human “imperfections,” they avoid talking about them and try to project an image of flawless functioning in as many areas of their life as possible.

Stress and emotional drain arise, since it is very difficult to maintain a perfect, “successful” image for periods as long as they do. Physical exhaustion arises from their busy, workaholic lifestyle.

Type description, from "From Stuckness to Growth: Enneagram Coaching" (2012) by Yechezkel & Ruth Madanes