Enneagram Type 3

Type 3 ~ The Achiever

Basic Proposition

The original state of hope in which things work according to universal law (and independently from anyone’s effort) goes into the background in a world that Type 3s perceive as rewarding “doing,” not “being.” Type 3s come to believe that they can gain love, recognition and acceptance through performance, “doing,” and success. Concurrently, they develop a go-ahead energy of self-deception to match the image of success and approval. Type 3’s attention naturally goes to tasks, goals, and items to accomplish. Identification glues the structure together by helping Type 3s take on the attributes of the desired image as their own. Their ultimate concern or fear is the inability to do or accomplish anything, and consequently, becoming a total failure or incapacitated in some way. As compensation, they sometimes control and dominate by taking charge, becoming impatient, being insensitive towards others, overriding others’ feelings, demanding performance, and becoming angry at obstructions. They believe in the phrase, “One is what one does and performs.”

Where Type 3’s Attention Goes

Type 3s’ attention goes towards the many tasks they have to accomplish, and then converges onto a single, out-focused goal. They yearn for action and approval, and so they look to the future and what is positive to accomplish. As a result, they reference others’ actions and strive for self-empowerment. 

Type 3’s Stressors: What Makes Them Most Personally Reactive

Type 3s’ fixation on achievement results in numerous stressful preoccupations. Being so focused on accomplishment and identifying with performance, they screen out any obstacles or interferences to your agenda that might thwart your success. As a result, they might neglect their real feelings. In order to ensure this success and to gain the status, prestige, or power they search for, Type 3s stay busy and active, always striving for efficiency. In an effort to look good and to win positive feedback or approval, they constantly adjust their image to match with the desired one. Because Type 3s fixate on accomplishment, they resent incompetence in others or their own outright failure, and resent indecision or needless delays when working towards goals. 

To self-develop, Type 3s should work to diminish these preoccupations, as such reactions block them from feeling appreciated and loved for who they are rather than what they do, and ultimately the true expression of their feelings.


Type 3’s Strengths and Weaknesses

Type 3’s Strengths

  • Effective and industrious leadership
  • Seeing possibility
  • Enthusiasm
  • Hope in action
  • Encouragement
  • Problem solving and solutions
  • Ability to provide
  • Efficiency
  • Practicality
  • Competence

Type 3’s Weaknesses

Difficulties Produced for Self

  • Self-deception about real needs
  • Missing own feelings
  • Moving to a new task and leaving items incomplete
  • Avoiding reflection and acceptance by doing something instead
  • Suffering and fear appears to come from “nowhere” and wants to be chased away
  • Impatience with differences, which are seen as obstructions in the path towards the goal
  • Wanting too much admiration and attention

Difficulties Produced for Others

  • Perceiving the Type 3 does not care about me, especially my feelings
  • Believing that Type 3 appears artificial or superficial
  • Perceiving that things and goals matter more to the Type 3 partner than people do
  • Experiencing the Type 3’s difficulty with letting go, relaxing, and reflecting
  • Suffering when the Type 3 cuts corners or softens the truth
  • Feeling manipulated by the 3’s agenda, always focused on accomplishment


Personality Dynamics

When Type 3s suffer from personality biases, the resulting features are biased mental and emotional dynamics. Fortunately, if Type 3s work to diminish their personality biases, they are able to return to their Essential Qualities and, consequently, attain a higher mental and emotional capacity. 

Mental Center Dynamics: Vanity and Hope | Law

Mental Preoccupation (or Fixation): Vanity

Essential Spiritual Quality (or Holy Idea): Hope | Law

When a Type 3 has a biased mental dynamic, they experience a Mental Preoccupation (or Fixation) called Vanity – the excessive pride in one’s own appearance, qualities, good points and achievements. In Vanity, Type 3 is addicted to success and efficiency, and so attention is focused on accomplishment. Type n3 believes that, “achievement is up to me, and I will be admired for it.” 

When a Type 3 restores its mental dynamic, they experience an Essential Spiritual Quality (or Holy Idea) called Hope / Law – the realization that life works out and that things are accomplished according to universal law. Type 3 finds relief in knowing that accomplishment and success are largely independent from their sole effort or efficiency. 

Emotional Center Dynamics: Deceit and Veracity | Honesty

Emotional Reactivity (or Passion): Deceit

Higher Emotional Capacity (or Virtue): Veracity | Honesty

When a Type 3 has a biased emotional dynamic, they experience an Emotional Reactivity (or Passion) called Deceit. In Deceit, energy is channelled towards the Type 3’s image, action, and impatient drive. Type 3 projects a specious and spurious image, rather than its true self or true feelings. They lose their value in just “being,” and, like an actor, conceal themselves to become what they desire to be or feel others desire them to be.

When a Type 3 restores their emotional dynamic, they experience a Higher Emotional Capacity (or Virtue) called Veracity / Honesty. In Veracity | Honesty, Type 3’s body rejects deceit and invites its essential state, expressing only what it is and manifesting only what is true.

Instinctual Center & Subtypes

When any of the Enneagram types suffer from biased passion and emotional reactivity, they can either contain or compensate for the associated preoccupations through their subtypes. 

Self Preservation (Self-Survival): Security  

Type 3s with a self-preservation subtype cope with emotional bias by identifying themselves and their survival with external items and products. As such, they gain security through material objects, social position, and possessions. They believe that because they are successful, marketable, and have assets and wealth, that they are valuable and safe. Material status. 

Sexual (Pair Bonding Survival): Masculine / Feminine Image

Type 3s with a sexual subtype cope with emotional bias by transforming themselves into the other person’s ideal image of what is desired in a relationship. They emphasize performance, and as such they are reassured by positive sexual regard and respect in business. Personal (relationship) status.

Social (Group Survival): Prestige

Type 3s with a social subtype cope with emotional bias by possessing status, credentials, positioning, notoriety, and power. They are reassured by their image, their position, and their success within the group. Social status.

As the Enneagram types are quite dynamic and intercorrelated, Type 3 is influenced by:

Left Wing Type 2: The Giver

Right Wing Type 4: The Romantic

Security Point Type 6: The Loyal Skeptic 

Stress Point Type 9: The Mediator


Self Development Strategies: Attaining Higher Personality Qualities and Reuniting with Essence  

The Central Theme for Type 3’s Healing and Development

Healing and development for Type 3s involves not making life into tasks. They are not just human doings, but human beings. So the simple prescription here is: expand the range of pace so that they can slow the pace down enough to allow feelings to emerge and to realize that love and acceptance comes to them for being as well as doing. Type 3s should remember that they depend on active force and mistrust receptive force. Since Type 3s are hooked on producing and succeeding, they just do what it takes to get to the goal, automatically adjusting their image to become what they perceive as bringing the rewards. This is where the distortion of the truth comes in. They take short cuts and sometimes soften the truth to get the job done, which makes sense, since they focus on approval and an image of success through the accomplishment.

How You Can Self-Develop and Fulfill Your Relationships

  • Develop your receptivity and patience
  • Slow your pace, detach from performance and allow your feelings to emerge
  • Allow for failure; make it OK to lose once in awhile
  • Welcome and appreciate feelings, realizing that doubt and anxiety often arise first
  • Develop empathy and understanding for yourself and others
  • Be truthful to yourself and your own true feelings

How You Can Help a Type 3 Self-Develop and Fulfill Their Relationships

  • Encourage your Type 3 to take time to smell the flowers
  • Pay attention to their feelings and ensure that they really listen to you
  • Support them in making relationships and feelings a priority
  • Let them know that you care for them regardless of their accomplishments
  • Show and tell them what is really important to you


Need help finding your Enneagram type? Take the scientifically validated Enneagram test online or through the paper-back book version found in Dr. David Daniels’ The Essential Enneagram.

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