Enneagram Type 3 (Achiever, Perfomer, Motivator): Motivation, Fears, Growth Tips

Enneagram Type 3–often referred to as ‘The Achiever,’ ‘The Performer,’ or ‘The Star’–is characterized by a profound desire to feel valuable and worthwhile. Driven by their basic motivation to succeed, be admired, and be respected, they are guided by an inherent focus on efficiency, goals, and personal advancement. However, they also struggle with a fear of being worthless or a failure, which propels their relentless pursuit of success and recognition. In relationships, they are motivating and pragmatic but can become overly focused on their image or external validation. Communication is typically confident, articulate, and adaptable, and at their best, they exhibit ambition, competence, and adaptability. However, in stress, they may display workaholic tendencies and a preoccupation with status or appearance.

Basic FearFeeling worthless or without value
Basic MotivationThe desire to feel valuable, successful, and admired
Passion / ViceDeceit – Losing touch with their own feelings and identity while adopting a persona that they believe will be valued by others
Key StrengthAdaptability – Ability to adjust and excel in different situations to achieve their goals
Emotional OutlookBelief that they must excel and be successful to be loved
Communication StylePersuasive, adaptive, and efficient, with a tendency to adjust their message to create a successful image
In RelationshipsEncouraging, driven, can become too focused on their own success and image (or the appearance of the relationship)
At Their BestAuthentic, inspiring, they are able to accomplish great things and uplift others
At Their WorstCan become overly competitive, fear being exposed as a fraud, can be excessively image-conscious
Possible AddictionsWorkaholism, excessive exercise, unhealthy diets, substance abuse related to maintaining an image
Holy IdeasHoly Harmony, Holy Hope, Holy Law

What are the Strengths of Enneagram Type 3?

When Type Threes are in touch with their strengths–and aren’t succumbing to their Achille Heel–they bring others the gifts of confidence and motivation. These are the strengths of Type 3:

  • Motivation: Threes help others feel inspired and find the motivation to keep moving toward their goals.
  • Focus: Threes support others to eliminate distractions and concentrate their attention only on what’s most important.
  • Confidence: Threes feel highly capable and are ready for any challenge, giving them a sense that success is inevitable.
  • Achievement: Threes keep their eyes on the prize and easily overcome obstacles, becoming highly accomplished.
  • Presentation: Not only do they get the job done, but Threes look great doing it. They present a winning image to the world.
  • Perseverance: Obstacles are only temporary speed bumps for Threes as they stay the course and keep moving towards their goal.
  • Efficiency: No time is wasted as Threes pursue the shortest, most efficient path to their goal.

What are the Weaknesses of Enneagram Type 3?

Achilles Heel: The fears of being seen as a failure, and having no value. When Type Threes succumb to their Achille Heel, their strengths become weaknesses.

  • Workaholism: Threes can exhaust themselves burning too bright, for too long. They can make their work a greater priority over important relationships, and even their own feelings.
  • Showiness: Threes can get lost in vanity. Looking successful becomes more important than *being* successful.
  • Inauthenticity: When image becomes more important than reality, Threes can succumb to the temptation to deceive others. Instead of being authentic, they present a larger-than-life persona to the world.
  • Emotional Suppression: When Threes become hyper-focused on their work, their feelings get pushed aside. They lose touch with themselves and their own hearts. They can then become quite cold and unfeeling. 
  • Opportunism: When success is pursued at all costs, Threes can cast aside ethics, as well as the feelings of others. This alienates others and the people around a Motivator begin to lose trust in them.

Which Triads does Enneagram Type 3 belong to?

Centers of Intelligence:Heart Center/Feeling Center
Object Relations:Attachment
Hornevian Groups:Assertives

How is Enneagram Type 3 at Work?

Enneagram Threes are individuals who excel in achievement-driven environments, often acting as the engine of any organization or project. They are deeply goal-oriented, attuned to the markers of success, and are adept at aligning their actions to meet these benchmarks. This ability to understand and respond to the demands of achievement often places them in positions of significant leadership, even without formal authority. They are the strategists, the motivators, and the ambitious leaders who are often seen as the force driving the team to success.

However, their success comes with a relentless focus on image and performance – they anticipate recognition and validation for their efforts. They desire to be seen as successful and admired, subtly encouraging others to view them as indispensable. At their best, Threes provide efficient, effective service without losing sight of their own identity, but at their worst, they can lead you into a cycle of superficial achievement. Their power lies in their ability to persuasively make others believe in them, often under the guise of being unbeatable and exceptional.

What are Good Careers for Enneagram 3?

Enneagram Type 3s often thrive in careers that allow them to express their innate desire to achieve and excel. Their goal-oriented nature and ability to understand what success requires make them excellent in roles such as business, marketing, law, or management, where they can directly impact the bottom line in a positive way. They may also excel in sales or public relations roles, where their confident and persuasive demeanor can create a strong impression. Leadership roles in corporations or entrepreneurial ventures could also be fulfilling for Type 3s, as these positions allow them to set goals and drive towards them on a larger scale. However, it’s important for Type 3 individuals to remember to align their ambitions with their true values, as they can sometimes become overly focused on external validation and lose sight of what truly matters. Balancing self-awareness with their natural inclination to succeed is key for Type 3s to thrive in their careers.

Enneagram 3 Celebrities

  • Michael Jordan: Widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, his relentless drive for success, constant pursuit of excellence, and unyielding determination to win set him apart in his career. Jordan’s focus on goals, achievements, and personal advancement led him to numerous accolades and championships. He was known to be highly adaptable, able to modify his game and strategy to outperform opponents, a trait consistent with Type 3’s focus on competence and adaptability. His public persona also often reflected an emphasis on image, prestige, and status, all characteristics that align with Type 3.
  • Jeff Bezos: His relentless ambition, focus on success, and ability to drive toward goals have been key to building one of the most successful companies in the world. Bezos is known for his strategic thinking, efficiency, and adaptability, qualities that are consistent with Type 3’s desire to achieve and excel. His pursuit of excellence and preoccupation with image and status has shaped not only his personal success but also the success of Amazon as a global brand.
  • Tom Cruise: Cruise is known for his adaptability, seamlessly moving between film genres and often performing his own stunts, demonstrating a focus on achievement and excellence. His carefully curated public image, combined with a drive to continuously push himself in his career, aligns with Type 3’s desire to be seen as successful and competent. Tom Cruise’s commitment to both artistic and commercial success in the film industry offers a compelling illustration of Type 3.
  • Taylor Swift: Swift’s ability to adapt her musical style, continuously evolve her image, and align herself with various genres shows her adaptability and focus on achievement. Her commitment to her craft, pursuit of excellence, and strategic approach to her career, including her keen sense of branding and public persona, are reflective of the Type 3’s desire to be seen as successful and exceptional.
  • Kanye West: His relentless pursuit of success across multiple domains, including music, fashion, and even politics, reflects his ambitious and goal-oriented nature. West’s willingness to reinvent himself and adapt to different artistic genres and industries shows a focus on achievement and personal advancement. His carefully crafted public image, often marked by bold statements and actions, aligns with Type 3’s preoccupation with status and appearance. Kanye West’s continuous push for excellence, recognition, and influence in various fields resonates with the characteristics of the Type

Enneagram 3 Fictional Characters

  • Jay Gatsby, The Great Gatsby — Jay Gatsby’s transformation from a poor young man to a wealthy figure exemplifies his relentless pursuit of success. Driven by the American Dream, he adapts himself to societal expectations, obsessed with status and appearance. However, his single-minded focus leads to morally questionable choices and a lack of authentic emotional connections. Gatsby’s tragic end underscores the dangers of pursuing success at all costs, resonating with the challenges faced by many Type 3 individuals.
  • Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother — His character is defined by an unquenchable thirst for success, whether in his professional life or his personal conquests, always striving to be the best and most admired. Barney’s obsession with appearance, status, and validation is evident in his meticulously crafted persona, complete with catchphrases, tailored suits, and a playbook for social interactions. However, beneath the surface bravado, there are moments in the series that hint at a vulnerability and a deep need for acceptance, reflecting the complex nature of Type 3 individuals who often mask their true selves in pursuit of societal approval.
  • Jaime Lannister, Game of Thrones — Jaime’s early identity is tied to his status as a renowned knight and his moniker “Kingslayer,” reflecting a focus on achievement and reputation. His willingness to adapt and align himself with societal expectations is evident in his complex relationships with family and power, often choosing paths that enhance his status. However, as the series progresses, Jaime’s character evolves, revealing a deeper complexity and moral struggle, illustrating the Type 3’s potential for growth and self-awareness beyond mere achievement and success.
  • BoJack Horseman — His relentless pursuit of fame, success, and validation is a central theme throughout the series, often leading him to make self-serving and destructive choices. BoJack’s obsession with his public image and his past glory as a sitcom star reveals a profound need for recognition and approval, typical of Type 3 personalities. However, his struggles with addiction, depression, and a deep sense of emptiness also provide a nuanced portrayal of the potential pitfalls and inner conflicts faced by Type 3 individuals, making BoJack a complex and resonant example of this Enneagram type.
  • Harvey Specter, Suits — Known for his confidence, ambition, and relentless pursuit of success, Harvey’s character is defined by his desire to win at all costs and his ability to present himself as the epitome of professional excellence. His tailored suits, sharp wit, and strategic thinking are all part of a carefully crafted image that aligns with societal expectations of a top-tier lawyer. However, beneath the polished exterior, Harvey’s relationships and personal struggles reveal a more complex character, grappling with issues of loyalty, ethics, and a need for genuine connection, reflecting the multifaceted nature of Type 3s who strive for success while seeking authenticity.
  • Scarlett O’Hara, Gone with the Wind — Her determination to succeed and adaptability are evident in her relentless pursuit of wealth, status, and social recognition, especially during the hardships of the Civil War. Scarlett’s willingness to bend societal norms, manipulate others, and present herself in ways that align with her ambitions showcases the Type 3’s focus on achievement and appearance. However, her complex relationships and inner turmoil reveal a deeper struggle with authenticity and a longing for true love and connection. Scarlett’s character illustrates both the strength and vulnerability of Type 3s, driven by success but often conflicted by underlying emotional needs.

How is Enneagram Type 3 in Love & Relationships?

In relationships, the Type 3 drive for success can manifest in both positive and negative ways. On the positive side, Type 3 individuals are often highly motivated, energetic, and adaptable, striving to improve themselves and their relationships. They can be supportive partners, encouraging growth and success in others. However, their focus on achievement and external validation can sometimes lead to problems. They may become overly concerned with their image and how the relationship appears to others, potentially neglecting the emotional needs of their partner. If they feel that the relationship is not contributing to their success, they may become detached or even manipulative. Understanding and balancing their drive for success with genuine emotional connection and empathy is key for Type 3 individuals in maintaining healthy and fulfilling relationships.

Enneagram Type 3 and Type 1 Relationship

Enneagram Type 1s support Type 3s’ work efforts, projects, and focus on goals and efficiency, while Type 3s appreciate Type 1s’ conscientiousness and devotion to excellence. However, conflict may arise as Ones become critical of Threes’ tendency to overlook details, cut corners, and make changes to suit circumstances. Threes, in turn, may grow impatient with Ones’ pickiness, judgmental nature, and interference with productivity. This can lead to a cycle of angry exchanges, accusations, and disengagement, compounded by both types’ tendency to avoid feelings, resulting in alienation and separation. For Ones, key relationship tasks include acknowledging their own criticality and absorption in details, appreciating Threes’ can-do attitude and efficiency, and working to increase flexibility and reduce judgmental intensity. For Threes, it’s essential to recognize their own preoccupation with image and tendency to take shortcuts, appreciate Ones’ conscientiousness and integrity, and focus on slowing the pace, paying attention to details, and making time for pleasure and relaxation.

Enneagram Type 3 and Type 2 Relationship

Enneagram Type 2s and Type 3s form a dynamic duo, working together towards shared goals and maintaining a positive outlook. Conflict arises when Twos feel that Threes disregard feelings and relationship matters, while Threes perceive Twos as distracting and demanding too much time and attention. This can lead to a cycle of escalating conflict, with Twos feeling rejected and becoming emotional, and Threes feeling unrecognized and retreating into work, resulting in withdrawal and potential relationship breakdown. For Twos, key relationship tasks include acknowledging their emotionality and focus on relationships, appreciating Threes’ efficiency and positive orientation, and working to balance relationship and goal orientations, moderate intensity, and express their own needs. For Threes, it’s essential to recognize their inattention to feelings and excessive focus on work, appreciate Twos’ generosity and sensitivity, and strive to balance goal and relationship orientations, allow emotions, and pay attention to deeper needs. Both types should work on being present in the moment.

Enneagram Type 3 and Type 3 Relationship

Enneagram Type 3s enjoy collaborating towards shared goals and enhancing each other’s efforts, often leading parallel yet supportive lives, focusing on necessary tasks to achieve success. However, this task-oriented approach can lead to neglecting each other’s feelings and the relationship itself, sometimes resulting in competition and viewing each other as obstacles to success. Feelings of insufficient recognition can escalate into a cycle of frustration, impatience, anger, and distancing, potentially leading to alienation or dissolution of the relationship. For Threes in a relationship with each other, it’s essential to acknowledge their inattention to feelings and excessive focus on work, appreciate each other’s positive orientation and enthusiasm, and work on moderating their pace, encouraging the expression of feelings, creating time for non-work-related activities, and recognizing that love stems from being, not doing.

Enneagram Type 3 and Type 4 Relationship

Enneagram Type 3s and Type 4s can mutually benefit from each other’s traits, with Type 3s appreciating Type 4s’ authenticity and creativity, and Type 4s valuing Type 3s’ support for sustained accomplishment. However, conflicts may arise as Threes may become impatient with Fours’ tendency to dwell on feelings, while Fours may resent Threes’ avoidance of emotions and perceived shallowness. This can lead to a cycle of escalating conflict, with Threes becoming angry and Fours falling into inaction, further widening a gulf that may even dissolve the relationship. For Threes, acknowledging their inattention to feelings and excessive focus on competition, and appreciating Fours’ idealism and creativity, can help in moderating their pace and supporting the relationship. Fours, on the other hand, should recognize their preoccupation with what is missing and imbalance between feeling and doing, and appreciate Threes’ optimism and competence, focusing on staying active and balancing emotions with action.

Enneagram Type 3 and Type 5 Relationship

Threes and Fives often support each other in work projects and shared activities, but conflicts may arise when Fives need private time to recharge, and Threes want to continue progressing. This can lead to a cycle of escalating conflict, with Threes becoming frustrated and impatient with Fives’ over-analysis and perceived procrastination, and Fives feeling that Threes are cutting corners and making demands. Since neither type typically attends to feelings, they may struggle to resolve the situation through dialogue, leading to alienation and possibly ending the relationship. Threes should acknowledge their pressure to move ahead and impatience with analysis, and appreciate Fives’ thoughtful analysis and calm under pressure. They should also allow for reflection and respect different work styles. Fives need to recognize their tendency to retract and over-analysis, and appreciate Threes’ can-do attitude and competence. They should also work on staying engaged and declaring when alone time is needed.

Enneagram Type 3 and Type 6 Relationship

Threes and Sixes can complement each other well when sharing a common purpose or goal, with Threes’ action orientation balanced by Sixes’ thoughtful downside analysis. However, conflicts may arise when Threes push ahead, somewhat blind to potential hazards, while Sixes react with caution and think about pitfalls and worst-case scenarios. This can lead to a cycle of escalating conflict, with Threes seeing Sixes as obstructing progress, evoking impatience, and Sixes feeling unheard and discounted, increasing doubt and mistrust. This may spiral into angry allegations and estrangement. Threes should acknowledge their tendency to cut corners and propensity to be overly optimistic, and appreciate Sixes’ loyalty and ability to see the bigger picture. They should also develop respect for pitfalls and listen to Sixes’ concerns. Sixes need to recognize their tendency to magnify hazards and wariness, and appreciate Threes’ optimism and positive go-ahead energy. They should also practice trusting in plausible positive actions and reduce the tendency to either defer or challenge.

Enneagram Type 3 and Type 7 Relationship

Threes and Sevens often support and encourage each other’s projects and activities, both avoiding painful feelings and negatives. However, conflicts can arise when the fun-loving Seven diverts from tasks that the Three feels must be done, leading to a cycle of increasing conflict. The Three may confront the Seven’s “escapism,” and the Seven may counter-confront the Three for taking the fun out of life. Neither wants to be seen as a failure, and this cycle of blame can lead to pain, anger, alienation, and dissolution of the relationship. Threes should acknowledge their “workaholic” tendency and preoccupation with goals, and appreciate Sevens’ mental quickness and playful spirit. They should also allow in painful feelings and develop patience. Sevens need to recognize their avoidance of “drudge work” and desire for life to be fun, and appreciate Threes’ disciplined goal focus and practicality. They should also accept limitations and come more into the present moment.

Enneagram Type 3 and Type 8 Relationship

Enneagram Type 3s and Type 8s can collaborate in pursuit of shared goals with vigor and determination, but conflicts may arise due to control and competition struggles. Threes may shift directions to avoid Eights’ confrontations and anger, further provoking Eights’ truth-seeking nature. This can lead to a cycle of escalating conflict, characterized by hurtful fights, withdrawal, and potential termination of the relationship. Threes should acknowledge their need to compete and win, difficulty expressing anger, and appreciate Eights’ straightforwardness and strength of purpose. They must welcome negative feedback, work on directness, and encourage Eights to express their softer side. Eights should recognize their all-or-nothing approach, habit of confronting, and appreciate Threes’ goal-directedness and flexibility. They must soften confrontational actions, moderate their style, and allow in their own softer feelings.

Enneagram Type 3 and Type 9 Relationship

Enneagram Type 3s and Type 9s can form a complementary relationship, with Type 9s supporting Type 3s’ goals and Type 3s helping to mobilize Type 9s into action. Harmony prevails when Threes attend to Nines’ needs and Nines encourage Threes to slow down. However, conflict may arise when Threes perceive Nines as indecisive and unfocused, leading to frustration and pressure. Nines may then feel controlled and become anxious and stubborn, escalating into angry exchanges and prolonged stand-offs that may dissolve the relationship. Threes must acknowledge their preoccupation with success, fast pace, and appreciate Nines’ steadiness and empathy. They should moderate their pace and practice receptivity. Nines must recognize their tendency to become stubborn, slower pace, and appreciate Threes’ ability to focus on goals and can-do attitude. They should claim their own voice and direction, insist on being heard, and concentrate on what is important.

What are the Wings of Enneagram Type 3?

Wings are adjacent or neighboring types. While every type has both wings available to them, most people lean towards one type or another. For Enneagram Type 3, the two wings are 2 and 4, yielding the two personality types of 3w2 and 3w4.

Enneagram 3w2

An Enneagram 3w2 is a dynamic blend of an ambitious achiever and a nurturing helper. The drive for success and recognition of Type 3 come together with the empathy and desire to help of Type 2. The result is someone who’s highly motivated and goal-oriented, yet also caring and supportive of others. The influence of the 2 helps humanize the Type 3’s ambition, striking a balance between personal advancement and genuine connection with others. The essence of a 3w2 is relentless determination, compassionate engagement, and a love for achievement and collaboration.

Enneagram 3w4

An Enneagram 3w4 is a complex blend of an ambitious achiever and an introspective individualist. The drive for success and recognition of Type 3 come together with the creative introspection and uniqueness of Type 4. The result is someone who’s highly motivated and goal-oriented, yet also values individuality and personal expression. The influence of the 4 adds depth to the Type 3’s ambition, striking a balance between striving for success and maintaining a sense of authentic identity. The essence of a 3w4 is relentless determination, artistic insight, and a love for achievement coupled with a desire for self-expression and individuality.

How is an Enneagram Type 3 in childhood?

Many Enneagram Type 3s report feeling a strong desire to succeed and be recognized from a young age, feeling that they needed to be accomplished, efficient, and admirable to be loved or accepted. They may have felt the weight of expectation, often from parents or caregivers, to excel in various areas such as academics, sports, or other extracurricular activities. This can lead to the suppression of personal desires or authentic feelings in favor of fulfilling these expectations. As children, Type 3s may have been praised for their achievements, talents, or appearance, reinforcing the belief that their worth was tied to their success and how others perceived them. Consequently, they may have developed a focus on external validation, striving for recognition, and fearing failure or being perceived as ‘average’ or ‘unremarkable’.

How is an Enneagram Type 3 as a parent?

As parents, Enneagram Type 3s are typically ambitious, encouraging, and supportive towards their children, often engaging in activities that promote growth and success. They are attentive to their children’s achievements and constantly question whether they are providing the right opportunities and guidance, and worry about potentially hindering their children’s potential. They also have a tendency to become strongly invested in their children’s accomplishments, sometimes projecting their own desires for success onto them.

What is the Disintegration Point (or Stress Point) of Enneagram Type 3?

The disintegration point (or stress point) of Enneagram Type 3 is Type 9. From average to unhealthy levels, Enneagram Type 3 may exhibit traits of average to unhealthy Enneagram Type 9 when under stress or facing adversity, as a means of expressing or venting repressed negative and passive feelings. In the average levels, they begin to exhibit Nine’s complacent qualities, and may become indecisive and unfocused, expressing underlying apathy and feelings of disconnection.

Unhealthy Threes struggle to deal constructively with their passive impulses, and when they move to Nine, they express suppressed disconnection against those they feel have not recognized them sufficiently. Deeply neurotic Threes at Nine can become physically disengaged, even towards those they professed to be aligned with.

What is the Integration Point (or Security Point) of Enneagram Type 3?

The integration point (or security point) of Enneagram Type 3 is Type 6. When healthy Threes transition to Six, they begin to shift their focus from personal achievement and success to the welfare and needs of the community and others. They move from a self-centered drive to a more cooperative and team-oriented approach. They accept their fears and doubts as readily as their strengths, not necessarily acting on them, but acknowledging their existence. This honesty allows them to build more genuine relationships and trust with others. For the first time, they value themselves for who they are, not just for what they achieve, enabling them to form deeper, more authentic connections. They feel valued for their character and integrity, not just for their accomplishments. This integration also opens up the possibility of channeling their drive into collaborative and supportive endeavors. They become more self-aware, responsible individuals with insights into the needs and dynamics of a group or community. Their contributions become more valuable as they become more genuine as individuals, whether as leaders, team members, or friends.

What are the developmental levels of Enneagram Type 3?

How is a healthy Enneagram Type 3?

A healthy Enneagram Type 3 is an exemplar of ambition and authentic achievement, motivated by a deep-rooted desire for personal growth and meaningful success. They harness their natural drive and focus on goals in a balanced, productive manner, efficiently leading the charge towards excellence without being crippled by the pursuit of external validation. Their desire for recognition, instead of being excessive or superficial, becomes a tool for self-improvement and genuine connection with others. These Type 3s can expertly manage their inherent feelings of image-consciousness, transforming them into positive drives for authenticity. The healthier they are, the more they embrace their true selves, accepting their own values and passions, which helps them foster genuine self-confidence and fulfillment. Their dedicated efforts to achieve their goals become an inspiring beacon, radiating motivation and positive change. They are not necessarily trying to impress anyone else, and they appeal to others by setting an extraordinary example of ambition aligned with integrity, not by mere image-building or pretense.

1. Enneagram Type 3, Level 1: The Authentic Person

Very healthy Type 3s transcend the need for external affirmation and become inner-directed, focusing on self-discovery and personal values rather than outward behavior. This inner direction is a rare accomplishment, allowing them to follow their own truth without being swayed by emotions, fears, or societal opinions. Healthy Threes inspire others through authentic and direct self-expression, characterized by an openness of heart and childlike simplicity. They practice self-acceptance, loving themselves enough to recognize both their strengths and weaknesses without embracing negative traits. This acceptance leads to responsibility for personal development and an acknowledgment of their true selves. Healthy Threes are modest, contented, and often humorous about themselves, with their reality and image converging. They are tender, loving, and present to their feelings, allowing them to connect deeply with others. Very healthy Threes become benevolent and charitable, genuinely concerned for others’ welfare, and use their talents to contribute to the greater human family without concern for personal advancement.

2. Enneagram Type 3, Level 2: The Self-Assured Person

Even healthy Type 3s look outside themselves to determine what others value, adapting to embody those qualities. This shift from inner direction to seeking external validation begins at Level 2, where Threes develop a fine-tuned ability to read others’ expectations. They possess exquisite social instincts, effortlessly responding to others’ emotions and moods, and their ability to read people puts others at ease. This creates a “feedback loop” where Threes reflect others’ ideal selves, receiving affirmation that makes them feel desirable. While healthy Threes genuinely embody admired qualities, they require self-affirmation and focus on their unlimited potential, maintaining a “can do” attitude. They often function as the “hero” in their families, striving to make them proud. Their self-assurance, positive attitude, and physical attractiveness make them extremely appealing, and they know how to attract others and make them enjoy their presence. Threes’ desirability and attractiveness make them uniquely suited to attract favorable attention, fulfilling both biological and social human needs.

3. Enneagram Type 3, Level 3: The Outstanding Person

Enneagram Type 3s at Level 3 engage in constructive activities to increase self-esteem and invest time and energy in self-development, making themselves outstanding individuals. They are ambitious to improve themselves in various ways, embodying excellence and the values admired by their culture, thus serving as living models for others. Their outstanding qualities motivate others to develop themselves, and they are willing to help others attain similar qualities. In the workplace, healthy Threes are capable, competent, and focused on goals, inspiring team morale and persisting through adversity. They are often sought out as spokespersons for their poise, charm, and confidence. Additionally, they are energetic and youthful, with a sense of humor that includes self-mockery, making them socially desirable. Their attractiveness, self-assurance, and evident enjoyment of being themselves make healthy Threes truly special, and many people aspire to be like them.

How is an average Enneagram Type 3?

An average Type 3 embodies a strong desire to succeed and be recognized for their accomplishments, driven by a fundamental belief in their potential. They have a clear focus on goals and efficiency, and they put significant effort into aligning their actions with societal standards of success. While they are ambitious and appreciate achievement, they can also become overly concerned with their image and how others perceive them, having a tendency to value appearance over substance. Their focus is often directed towards attaining success and recognition, which can lead to bouts of stress or a loss of connection with their authentic selves. Still, at this level, they usually maintain a decent balance, managing their ambition and image-consciousness while striving to make a positive impact in their chosen field.

4. Enneagram Type 3, Level 4: The Competitive Status-Seeker

Enneagram Type 3s at Level 4 shift their attitude to want to distinguish themselves from others, fearing being overshadowed by others’ accomplishments. This leads to a subtle and covert need to compete, working harder and acquiring symbols of success to reinforce self-esteem. They throw themselves into their projects, careers, or roles, striving to excel and be the best in whatever they are involved with. This drive to outdo others creates rivalries and puts relationships on a competitive footing, leading to estrangement from their own desires and feelings. They pursue success with unrivaled efficiency, valuing career, success, and recognition, and often making big sacrifices, including relationships and emotional health. Their focus on success leads them to present themselves more favorably and become strategic about friendships and networking, assessing others by their prestige value. They become highly status-conscious, constantly assessing their progress, but their focus becomes distorted as they increasingly seek recognition and attention from others rather than genuine self-improvement.

5. Enneagram Type 3, Level 5: The Image-Conscious Pragmatist

Enneagram Type 3s at Level 5 are fearful of losing others’ positive regard due to increasing competitiveness, and become preoccupied with creating a favorable impression, focusing on style over substance. They abandon their authentic selves, pouring energy into developing a polished veneer to win success, viewing themselves as commodities. This focus on image betrays a lack of authentic self-esteem, as they reject their true selves in favor of a more valuable “package.” They become less desirable as genuine human beings and more desirable as commodities, obsessing over how they come across to others. This orientation does not allow them to express genuine feelings, and they act according to the needs of the image they project, not their real needs. They learn to project simulated emotional states, and what they appear to be and what they actually are begin to diverge.

Average Threes know how to package themselves, fitting into their environment successfully, and even setting the standard by which others judge themselves. They can be found in every profession, and their apparent perfection may have a rehearsed quality. They are aware of others’ reactions and make adjustments as needed, but they express few genuine feelings and have few deeply held convictions. They fear genuine intimacy, fearing that their authentic self is worthless, and create the impression of intimacy without revealing themselves. Despite all the attention to their image, they become increasingly unconvincing due to emotional disengagement. They become unsure of what they feel, relying on techniques and formulas, and become increasingly brisk, efficient, and emotionally detached. Losing contact with their own desires, they lead by following, and the image takes on a false life of its own.

6. Enneagram Type 3, Level 6: The Self-Promoting Narcissist

Enneagram Type 3s at Level 6 fear exposure and humiliation after meticulously crafting an idealized self-image, leading them to intensify their self-promotion. They become obsessed with appearing perfect and outstanding, inflating their self-image to grandiose levels. This leads to relentless bragging and exaggeration of achievements, making extraordinary claims that may not add up. Everything becomes a show, with Threes becoming shameless braggarts, displaying whatever they think will garner admiration. Conflicts with others begin due to overt competitiveness, and they feel comfortable only when superior to others. They pursue fame and status symbols, becoming self-involved, arrogant, and contemptuous towards others, using physical attractiveness or other self-enhancing traits to impress.

Narcissistic Threes become passive, resting on their laurels and becoming complacent, losing focus on long-term goals. They take relationships for granted, dropping people once they receive a boost to their narcissism, and enjoy frustrating those who attempt to get close. Conflicts arise from their pretensions, as they puff up achievements to unrealistic extremes, setting themselves up for disappointment. They become touchy about their self-worth, covering up a profound lack of genuine self-esteem. Hostility, contempt, and sarcasm emerge, and they put others down to stay on top. The deteriorating Three becomes consumed by a desperate need for recognition, filled with disappointment and rage. If they can reconnect with their authentic self, they can become healthier, but continued self-deception risks severing the connection with who they really are.

How is an unhealthy Enneagram Type 3?

An unhealthy Type 3 grapples with an extreme manifestation of their basic traits. Their desire for success and recognition, typically a motivating force, morphs into an oppressive obsession, triggering an intense fixation on image and an inability to connect with their authentic selves. The world, through their lens, is a competitive battleground, leading to an excessive focus on achievement and appearance. This internal and external pressure can induce high levels of stress, manifesting in a constant state of dissatisfaction and disconnection. Their fear of failure, often deeply suppressed, can sporadically erupt, causing harm to themselves and their relationships. Their zealous pursuit of success may devolve into a compulsive need to win at all costs, their actions often straying from the path of integrity and genuine fulfillment. The essence of their drive, instead of inspiring growth and meaningful achievement, fosters an environment of superficiality and anxiety.

7. Enneagram Type 3, Level 7: The Dishonest Opportunist

At Level 7, the fear of failure drives unhealthy Type 3s to extreme measures to maintain the illusion of superiority, leading them to become dishonest and unprincipled. They detach from their core values and will lie, plagiarize, and take credit for others’ work to appear exceptional. This level of deceit extends to selling out, changing loyalties, and exploiting others, including themselves, often sacrificing their future, health, and integrity for short-term gains. They become hustlers, lacking empathy, using others as mere objects for self-aggrandizement, and quickly discarding them once they’ve served their purpose. Despite the lack of goal-orientation and the staggering number of exploited relationships, unhealthy Threes manage to maintain an illusion of functionality, often hiding their inner desolation and emptiness until a catastrophe leads to a depressive breakdown.

8. Enneagram Type 3, Level 8: The Malicious Deceiver

Enneagram Type 3s at Level 8, driven by fear of exposure, become increasingly deceptive and destructive to support their false claims. They rely on projecting a convincing image, but beneath it, they become unhinged and treacherous, often only discovered after causing damage. These Threes become pathological liars, compulsively lying to make an impression, even when nothing significant depends on it, leading to potential harm, financial loss, or emotional torment for others. Their lies are often connected to their immediate objectives, and they will say anything to get what they want. This way of living heightens their terror, and beneath a calm surface, they feel cornered and panicked. They may become remorseless and dangerous, capable of betrayal, sabotage, and destruction to keep their wrongdoings concealed. This continuous deception entangles them further, making discovery almost inevitable, and may lead them into complete maliciousness and madness.

9. Enneagram Type 3, Level 9: The Vindictive Psychopath

Deeply pathological Enneagram Type 3s at Level 9 are driven by a fear of exposure and a feeling of worthlessness, leading them to a stage of unmitigated vindictiveness and obsession with triumphing over others. Their need for vindictive triumph manifests in impulses to defeat and humiliate others, often hidden behind frantic ambition. Their hostility grows into irrational malice and jealousy towards anyone who has attained real goals, leading to an obsession with ruining others. They can become psychopathic, acting out cruel fantasies of revenge without remorse, and are capable of crimes like assault, arson, sabotage, and even murder. Their violence may seem random but is motivated by a constant need to regain superiority. Childhood abuse is likely in their past, leading to displaced rage onto substitute figures. Despite their deviousness, they may reveal themselves to their victims, as public condemnation and notoriety still affirm their existence as “somebody.”

Source: Personality Types by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

What are growth tips for Enneagram Type 2?

  • Value Your Feelings. When Threes put their feelings aside, they lose touch with their authenticity and lose the trust of others, making them less effective. By learning to get in touch with their feelings, Threes begin to feel more real, they enjoy their life more, and they become an inspiration to others.
  • Focus on the Team. Threes can become too focused on themselves, losing the support of their team. By championing their team, rather than just themselves, Threes help everyone to be successful. The Three is then seen as the key to the team’s success.
  • Relax and Recharge. Threes often sacrifice their own self care to get the job done, becoming burned out. By taking the time to relax and have fun, their inner resources are rejuvenated, allowing them to operate at peak effectiveness and with greater ease.
  • Embrace Failure. Threes are often terrified by failure, but failures are just stepping stones on the path to success. By embracing failure, Threes are able to learn from their mistakes and increase the likelihood of success.

What are the Enneagram 3 Subtypes (Instinctual Variants)?

Self Preservation 3 (SP3)

Self-Preservation Enneagram Type 3s emphasize efficiency, tangible results, and mastery of specific skills, often gravitating toward professions focused on optimizing health or achieving excellence through the body. They may be driven and competitive, but not necessarily wealthy, as their values may lie in other areas such as healing arts or personal training. They tend to be less flashy and more focused on disciplined work, but can struggle with aligning their path with authentic values, often following a momentum toward goals without true passion. Prone to workaholism, they may run themselves into exhaustion and create interpersonal challenges with loved ones. Under intense distress, they may become indiscriminate and cut corners to pursue goals, even resorting to ruthless competition or sabotage. Growth for Self-Preservation Threes comes from recognizing and internalizing their sense of well-being and valuing themselves in the present rather than focusing solely on outcomes.

Social 3 (SO3)

Social Enneagram Type 3s seek value in relationships and vocation, often aspiring to inspire others through their example and to be seen as special within their social context. Highly charming and charismatic, they focus on cultivating qualities that make them interesting and maintaining a good reputation. They often find themselves in positions where they guide others, and they may become so adept at progressing toward their aims that they pursue paths lacking personal resonance. Social Threes can get caught playing different roles, leading to an inner and outer split, and may blur private life with professional persona. The desire to be seen as special can lead to aloofness and undermine relationships, and their ambition may turn into social climbing, replacing real connection. Unhealthy Social Threes may become identified with their persona, with relationships becoming performative. Self-acceptance and curiosity about their true selves allow Social Threes to trust in their value and build authentic relationships.

Sexual 3 (SX3)

Sexual Enneagram Type 3s seek to experience value through their desirability and magnetic attraction, often focusing on generating intrigue, mystique, and even controversy. They strive to be the most attractive person in the room, and their competition revolves around captivating sexual displays, often involving striking and unique personal styles. They may pursue fields like modeling or performing to signal their sexual value, and their creative output emphasizes impact and energy. Failure for Sexual Threes is defined as failing to attract or keep interest, leading them to go to great lengths to win specific partners, sometimes resulting in unhealthy behaviors like possessiveness, control, or viewing partners as “prizes.” They may also engage in intense measures to preserve physical beauty, such as cosmetic surgery or eating disorders. Balance for Sexual Threes comes from accepting and valuing themselves beyond their sexual display, enriching their authentic selves and drawing others to them.

What are the Misidentifications or Mistypings for Enneagram Type 3?

Misidentification of Enneagram types is the act of choosing the wrong Enneagram type due to misinterpreting a person’s behavior or motivations. Misidentification is also known as mistyping.

Enneagram Type 3 and Type 1 misidentification

Average Enneagram Type 1s and average Type 3s are often confused due to their shared efficiency and organizational abilities. Both are task-oriented and suppress feelings to accomplish goals. However, Ones are idealists, driven by a strong conscience, striving for perfection and order, and adhering to particular methods or procedures. They are less able to conceal their irritations and disappointments, and their emotions remain potentially available. Threes, on the other hand, are pragmatic and adaptable, driven by goals rather than standards. They are primarily interested in success and prestige, and are more skilled at masking their emotions, projecting whatever emotion seems appropriate. Ones strive for moral perfection and see themselves as meeting the highest standards, while Threes aim for individual perfection and personal desirability. Both types are “thinking” types, but Ones seek objective means to reach an ideal, whereas Threes pragmatically find efficient means to achieve their goal.

Enneagram Type 3 and Type 2 misidentification

The confusion between Enneagram Type 2s and Type 3s has to do with the dominant wing of each type. Twos with a Three-wing (2w3) and Threes with a Two-wing (3w2) are sometimes mistaken due to their shared personal charm and desire to be liked. While both can be seductive, they do so in different ways. Twos attempt to gain affection by focusing on others and doing good things for them, motivated by a desire to create closeness or intimacy. Threes, on the other hand, strive to be outstanding and irresistible, seeking attention but fearing true intimacy. Twos can be ambitious but feel uncomfortable pursuing goals directly, while Threes are extremely goal-driven and aim to be the best. Twos are openly sentimental and can lose patience, while Threes tend to be more composed, often driving themselves to excel until they burn out.

Enneagram Type 3 and Type 4 misidentification

The confusion between Enneagram Type 3s and Type 4s has to do with the dominant wing of each type. The confusion between Threes with a Four-wing (3w4) and Fours with a Three-wing (4w3) often stems from their contrasting relationship with emotions. Threes focus on tasks, efficiency, and performance, often putting feelings aside to achieve goals, viewing emotions as hindrances. Fours, conversely, prioritize processing their feelings, even stopping tasks to sort through troubling emotions. Threes may see Fours’ preoccupation with feelings as unprofessional, while Fours may view Threes’ focus on performance as inauthentic. Misidentification is more common for Threes mistyping as Fours, especially if they grew up in environments valuing artistic expression, mistakenly believing that creativity is exclusive to Fours.

Enneagram Type 3 and Type 5 misidentification

The confusion between Enneagram Type 3s and Type 5s primarily occurs when Threes, particularly intelligent ones, wish to identify as “thinkers,” a trait stereotypically associated with Fives. This misidentification is more common among Threes, especially if they grew up in families valuing intelligence and originality. While Threes may excel academically, their intellectual pursuits are often driven by personal goals such as fame, recognition, or rivalry, rather than a love for knowledge. Fives, on the other hand, are process-oriented and can be deeply involved in abstract ideas for the sake of acquiring knowledge, without seeking practical results or public acclaim. Threes are sociable, well-groomed, and concerned with others’ opinions, while Fives are often loners, unconcerned with appearance, and indifferent to social standards. The essential difference lies in Threes’ pragmatic thinking aimed at achieving goals efficiently, compared to Fives’ impractical, curiosity-driven approach.

Enneagram Type 3 and Type 6 misidentification

Enneagram Type 3s and Type 6s are not often confused, but they share a focus on work and performance. Threes see themselves as soloists, striving to excel and needing recognition for their accomplishments. They often project a smooth and composed demeanor. Sixes, on the other hand, work hard to build security and prove their dependability, often feeling awkward about taking the spotlight. They tend to be more nervous and may strive to ingratiate themselves with superiors. The sexual instinctual variant of type Six may lead to some confusion, as these Sixes focus on personal magnetism like Threes, but their insecurities are more visible, and they tend to project more volatile and intense feelings, contrasting with Threes’ cool emotional reserve.

Enneagram Type 3 and Type 7 misidentification

Both Enneagram Type 3s and Type 7s are assertive types interested in success, but they pursue it differently. Sevens love the material world and seek a variety of exciting experiences for the stimulation they provide, irrespective of others’ knowledge of their acquisitions. Threes, on the other hand, seek status symbols to reinforce their sense of superiority and desire for others to envy them. While Sevens become faddish trendsetters seeking excitement, Threes create new status symbols for exclusivity. The underlying motive for Sevens is continuous stimulation, while Threes aim to rise above others competitively. Unhealthy Sevens may have grandiose delusions about their abilities, while narcissistic Threes are grandiose about their self-worth. Sevens inflate their desires and plans, while Threes overcompensate for their fear of failure. The emotional tone also differs, with Threes appearing cool and in control, and Sevens displaying more rough edges and less polished behavior.

Enneagram Type 3 and Type 8 misidentification

Enneagram Type 3s and Type 8s are both assertive and competitive, but their motivations and behaviors differ significantly. Eights are self-assertive, competing for material and sexual dominance, and are unafraid to fight for what they want. They are strong leaders, deal makers, and power brokers, driven by a desire to achieve personal power and glory. Threes, on the other hand, are driven by a desire for success, prestige, and the admiration of others. Unlike Eights, who don’t care about popularity, Threes are deeply concerned with public opinion and fear failure as a personal humiliation. Eights see failure as a learning opportunity, while Threes may resort to deviousness under pressure. Eights are natural leaders, often ruthless in pursuit of their vision, while Threes are natural managers and technicians, more focused on social demand and avoiding rejection.

Enneagram Type 3 and Type 9 misidentification

Enneagram Type 3s and Type 9s can be confused with each other due to their adaptability and interest in gaining acceptance from others, and both may struggle with recognizing their true desires. However, their differences are significant. Threes are highly motivated, driven to succeed, and have difficulty relaxing, often seeking attention from those they deem important. They are excited by their projects and determined to meet their goals. Nines, on the other hand, may need external motivation from friends or spouses to stay on track and often have trouble doing things for themselves. Unlike Threes, who are focused on achievement, Nines are more inclined to take it easy and are excited about their free time and comforts. They are also more reluctant to ask for attention and may discount themselves easily.

What is the Ego Fixation of Enneagram Type 3?

The ego fixation of Enneagram Type 3 is deceit. Oscar Ichazo called this “Ego-Deceit.” This fixation is driven by a deep need for success, recognition, and validation from others. Type 3s often go out of their way to project an image of success and accomplishment, hoping to receive admiration and affirmation in return. This need to feel successful often leads them to seek out ways to excel and stand out, thereby validating their own self-worth. However, this pattern can become problematic when it turns into a cycle of achieving to receive, where the Type 3 individual pursues goals with the secret hope of receiving positive attention in return. This can lead to an unhealthy obsession with success and a detachment from their authentic selves, as they become more focused on how they are perceived by others.

What is the Temptation of Enneagram Type 3?

The characteristic temptation of Enneagram Type 3 is to believe that they are without failure, always successful, and always completely efficient in their pursuits. When they don’t recognize their own authentic desires and feelings, they may manipulate their image and achievements to fulfill their need for recognition and validation from others.

What is the Passion of Enneagram Type 3?

The passion of Enneagram Type 3 is deceit, which manifests as a need to appear successful and valuable in the eyes of others. They take pride in their ability to achieve and present an image of success, often going out of their way to do so. However, this deceit can sometimes lead to a loss of connection with their authentic selves or a belief that they must always be the best. It’s a double-edged sword, as this drive for success can both fuel their ambition and create potential for losing touch with what truly matters. Balancing this passion for achievement with authenticity is key for Type 3s to maintain healthy relationships and a positive self-image.

What is the Virtue of Enneagram Type 3?

The virtue of Enneagram Type 3 is authenticity, which is the antidote to the passion of deceit. This virtue is about being true to oneself and not requiring the validation or admiration of others through achievements or appearance. It is not about self-promotion, nor solely focusing on success in work or status. When Type 3 individuals are truly present and awake, issues about their identity and self-worth based on external accomplishments do not arise. This quality gives very healthy Threes the ability to pursue their goals genuinely, without any thought of impressing others or seeking recognition. They strive to succeed for their own sake, aligning their actions with their true values, without even thoughts of self-congratulations for the effort. They simply see a goal and pursue it (or not) spontaneously and freely, in alignment with their authentic selves.

What are the Holy Ideas of Enneagram Type 3?

The Holy Ideas of Type 3 are Holy Harmony, Holy Law, and Holy Hope. By embracing Holy Harmony, we recognize the interconnectedness of all things and the intrinsic value of each individual, regardless of external achievements or status. Holy Law refers to the universal principles that govern existence, acknowledging that success and value are not solely determined by societal standards or individual accomplishments. Holy Hope embodies the faith and optimism that true success and fulfillment are attainable by aligning with one’s authentic self and deeper truths. Together, these Holy Ideas enable us to let go of the need to constantly perform or achieve, and permit us to align with their true selves and the natural flow of life. True freedom and fulfillment emerge when we connect with these deeper principles, recognizing our inherent worth and the value of others. When they entrust their ambitions to Holy Harmony, Holy Law, and Holy Hope, they grant themselves the right to be genuine and connected, to accept themselves as they are, thereby finding true success and fulfillment.