Enneagram Type 3 – The Achiever
Threes value achievement, results, and recognition and like to do their best. They tend to be ambitious, efficient, highly flexible and adaptable to help them accomplish their goals. Hard working and principled, Three’s can make reliable, devoted parents with the will and energy to be their best.
Image-conscious: Maintaining a positive image is crucial for Type 3s. They are concerned about how others perceive them and often work hard to present themselves in a favorable light.
Adaptable: Threes are adaptable and can adjust their behavior to fit different situations. They are skilled at reading social cues and can be charming and engaging.
Competitive: Threes are naturally competitive and enjoy measuring their success against others. This competitiveness can drive them to excel and achieve their goals.
Focus on productivity: Threes have a strong work ethic and are highly productive. They prioritize efficiency and effectiveness in their tasks and projects.
Fear of failure: Despite their outward confidence, Threes often have an underlying fear of failure. They may tie their self-worth to their achievements and feel a sense of emptiness or inadequacy if they don’t meet their goals.
Attention to appearance: Threes are conscious of their physical appearance and the impression they make on others. They may invest time and effort in looking polished and put-together.
Desire for recognition: Recognition and acknowledgment of their achievements are crucial for Threes. They thrive on positive feedback and appreciation from others.
Tendency to suppress emotions: Threes may suppress or downplay their emotions, focusing more on what is pragmatic and efficient. They might prioritize tasks over addressing personal feelings.
Struggle with authenticity: Threes may struggle with authenticity, as they can be prone to presenting a persona that aligns with societal expectations rather than expressing their true selves.
Core Fear: Threes have a deep-seated fear of failure and being perceived as unsuccessful. They are afraid of not living up to expectations, losing face, or being seen as incompetent.
Core Desire: The core desire of Enneagram Type 3 is to be successful and admired. Threes seek recognition, approval, and acknowledgment for their achievements. They desire to be seen as competent, accomplished, and capable in the eyes of others.
Core Motivation: The core motivation for Type 3 is driven by the need to excel and succeed. Threes are motivated to prove their worth and value through their accomplishments. They work hard to achieve their goals, often striving for external validation as a measure of their success.
I worked with a client for 3 sessions before she stopped showing up. She was exhausted from working at her demanding career all day, and caring for her 3 daughters in the evening.
On our first call, I pointed out that our energy goes where our attention goes. She realized her attention was focused outside of herself all day, taking care of business, but never focused inward, onto her body and emotions. She craved her own attention but when we discussed sitting down for 5 minutes to just breathe and catch her breath, she panicked.
Intellectually, she understood the benefit of resting and giving herself some time and attention, but it triggered a lot of fear.
“There is too much to get done” “More work will pile up if I stop” are the thoughts that run through the minds of type 3 Supermoms who value efficiency and productivity, over emotions. I’ve helped many 3’s learn to value relaxation but this mom stopped coming before we get over the resistance to relaxation and the fear of inefficiency.
3 Questions to help decipher your type:
- Do you mind cutting corners for the sake of efficiency?
- Do you always want to be the best? (even beating your kids at board games?)
- How important is it to you that other people see your achievements?
Elizabeth was a people oriented go-getter. She loved leading a team and getting things done at her prestigious job. When she showed up for coaching sessions, she had an agenda of topics to cover and her desired results.
The topics often had a theme, someone else was displeased with her. She could intuit the emotional discord but didn’t know how to process the emotions of it. I learned to ask about her sleep and her overeating, as this was the best barometer of how she was feeling.
Three’s care about people but when things get tough, they get down to business. Elizabeth had a hard time understanding why other people didn’t see things they way she did. They often got stuck in their emotions and couldn’t see that her decisions were logical and efficient. Others could view her as emotionally distant, impatient and dismissive.
During coaching sessions, Elizabeth overcame her fear of vulnerability and sat with her uncomfortable emotions. She used her difficulty sleeping and overeating as a reminder to tune inwards and ask, “What am I trying not to feel?”. Then she practiced the 90 second process of feeling feelings so that she could move past it in the most efficient way possible.
Supermom Kryptonite: What trips Threes up?
- Extra curricular activity is the first thing to go. Difficulty taking breaks, unplugging and having fun even while on vacation. Their fear of being seen as a failure or incompetent can override their desire for self care. Relaxation takes last priority because it doesn’t feed their image of success. 3’s worry about being considered worthless if they don’t achieve their goals but all this ignoring of their emotions can cause depression if they don’t get enough down time or personal time.
- Under stress, Three’s go to numbness and inaction which connects them with the worthless feelings they try hard to avoid. When 3’s are burned out and they rest, it feels like giving up on themselves rather than self nurture and self love.
- The image-conscious nature of Threes can translate into a desire for their family to appear successful and accomplished. Seeking social prestige can be tricky when the definition of success keeps changing – physical appearance, career success, family dynamics. Compare and despair. Competitive.
- Overscheduling and Overcommitment because they are so liked and depended upon.
Relationships that require emotional vulnerability are really challenging. Because 3’s don’t dwell on failure, a critical comment from a loved one can derail a 3 and cause them to withdrawal.
- Pressure to succeed: Type 3 parents may unintentionally project their own desire for success onto their children. This can create an environment where the child feels pressured to meet high expectations, potentially leading to stress or kids feeling like they are worth less than your work or your image.
- Everyone has difficulty listening to long, boring kid stories but 3’s REALLY have a hard time. The emphasis on productivity and achievement might make it challenging for them to slow down and engage in meaningful, unhurried interactions with their kids.
- Balancing work and family life. Threes may find it challenging to be authentic about their struggles and imperfections as parents. The fear of failure and a desire to maintain a positive image may hinder open communication about difficulties or mistakes.
3’s want to hear that they are loved and valued not for what they do, but for who they are.
What Three use life coaching for:
- To Learn effective and productive ways to process emotions quickly!
- To slow down, be in the present moment and make time to open their hearts to others.
- To say no
- Getting comfortable with vulnerability (zoom vs. phone)
- To take off the mask and be their true self. appreciate who they are at their core.
- To separate their achievements from their children so they can feel like successful parents.
- To understand the mind of a child who thinks differently than you.
- To accept and appreciate the diverse personalities of their kiddos.
- To create their own definition of success for each stage of life. There comes a time in every 3’s life where SOMETHING NEEDS TO GIVE. It’s helpful to see that the tools you used to become successful in your 20’s are not the same tools you need in your 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.
Small Action Steps Three’s Can Take to grow in a positive direction