The Success-Oriented, Efficient Type:
Threes are, above all, goal-oriented. They get a particular objective in their sights and then actively engage in activities that will bring them closer to whatever they seek. They pursue their dreams tirelessly, and cannot understand why others are not similarly motivated. Thus, Threes also enjoy sharing self-development tips, explaining how to make money, lose weight, develop career skills, and so forth. They are hard workers, diligent and effective—and they like helping others to be that way, too.
To achieve their goals, Threes learn to be highly adaptable. They are able to change course when necessary and may even do so several times, including a change of career, if that is what it takes. They may try different approaches to problems until they find a formula that seems the most effective. Similarly, Threes quickly adapt to different social settings, always wanting to be appropriate and to exemplify the values of whatever group they are in. While their adaptability can be an enormous asset, it can also be overdone, leaving Threes unsure of who they are or what their own deepest values are.
In all of their dealings, Threes value efficiency and effectiveness, and they are often prized by businesses for these values. They are extremely goal-driven, and once they are given a task to perform, will do their best to make sure that it is done as quickly and efficiently as possible. The problem is that Threes can be efficient to a fault—becoming accomplishment machines, brushing their real feelings and needs aside to "get the job done." This way of living can leave Threes feeling empty and emotionally isolated, despite the successes they may be having.
Problem arise because Threes learned in childhood that they are only valuable for their accomplishments and self-presentation. They believe that they will only be loved if they become extraordinary in some field of endeavor. Thus, the pressure to be outstanding in whatever they do is intense and draining. Even if they are not working at a career and are primarily keeping a home, they will strive to have the most outstanding home in their neighborhood and to be "Super-Mom" or "Super-Dad." Threes find it difficult to stop or rest when they are caught up in their drive for success. They believe that to do so is to risk failure—and most Threes would rather die than fail and risk being humiliated. Their drive for success can also create conflicts with their personal or family life. Similarly, intimacy issues are not uncommon.
When Threes push themselves too hard and are unable to deliver everything that they would like to, they may resort to presenting successful images to others rather than letting people know their actual state or emotional condition. They attempt to convince others and themselves that they have no problems and that they are doing great, even though they may feel depressed or even burnt out. They believe that they can "fake it until they make it," but if Threes do not slow down to deal with their emotional problems, sooner or later, a crash is inevitable.
In brief, Threes want to feel valuable and worthwhile, to excel, to be affirmed, to be effective and efficient, to perform well, to be "the best," to have attention, to be admired, and to impress others. Threes do not want anything that looks like failure, to sit around "doing nothing," to be overshadowed by others, to look unprepared or awkward, to be average, to ask others for help or support, or to be caught in distortions of the truth.
Their Hidden Side
To learn more about the compatibility issues of Type Three and their interactions with other types, click below on the Enneagram type of the other person in the relationship. This will open in a new window.
The Passion: Deceit (Vanity)
Thus, Threes convince themselves that they must always be outstanding, superb, and exceptional—the best at whatever they are focusing on. To be any less than this is to fail, to be worthless. This is like the child who gets straight A's but is then tormented by getting an A-minus or a B-plus, or the athlete who wins several gold medals but then feels like a failure for getting a silver or bronze. This kind of self-rejection and self-deception causes Threes a great deal of suffering. Once Threes lose themselves in these self-deceptions, truth becomes whatever works to keep their self-image going, and they are able to deceive others, often without any apparent remorse.
At Their Best
Healthy Threes are able to do this because they believe in themselves and invest time and energy in developing their native talents. They value themselves, their lives, and the people they love, seeing life as an opportunity to offer what talents they have been given to the world. They are also "adaptable" in the best sense of the word. If they see that they are doing something incorrectly or that their methods are not reaping positive results, they are willing to learn another way and to change. Further, healthy Threes are not in a contest with anyone. They deeply enjoy working with others toward shared goals and do not need to outshine their peers.
Thus, healthy Threes may or may not have significant accomplishments, but others are impressed by their realness and their heartfelt sincerity. They model an honesty, simplicity, and authenticity that inspires people. They do not try to impress others or inflate their importance; rather, they see their limitations and appreciate their talents without taking themselves too seriously. At their best, they are also tender, touchingly genuine, and affectionate—they truly become "heroes" and "role models" who inspire others by their outstanding achievements, humility, and warmth.Personality Dynamics & Variations
An explanation of the Directions of Integration (Security) and Disintegration (Stress) can be found here, which opens in a new window.
Under Stress (Three Goes to Average Nine)
Security (Three Goes to Average Six)
Integration (Three Goes to Healthy Six)
An explanation of the three Instincts can be found here, which opens in a new window.
Self-Preservation Threes: The Workaholic (Ichazo's "Security")
Of the three instinctual variants of this type, the Self-Pres Three has the most difficulty contacting feelings. They tend to express affection through accomplishing things for their partner and by meeting practical expectations. But they may begin to see all of their relationships in terms of functional roles, transactions, task lists, and how well they and the people in their lives are fulfilling these roles. While this can be efficient up to a point, it often ends up creating distance between Self-Pres Threes and the people they care about.
Sexual Threes: The Catch (Ichazo's "Virility/Femininity")
Sexual Threes want to be appreciated for their depth and intelligence too, but they fear that others are only interested in them for their attractiveness. Some Sexual Threes may go through periods of rebellion, downplaying their physical attributes for a while to see if people still like them and to find out more about themselves. Ultimately, this type grows by recognizing their own value directly—that is, without believing that it only exists reflected in the admiring eyes of others.
Social Threes: The Status Seeker (Ichazo's "Prestige")
Thus, of the three instinctual variants of this type, Social Threes are at the greatest risk of losing track of their core values and goals. They may adapt so successfully that they find themselves adrift without tangible goals or a clear path for achieving them. In this regard, they can resemble Sevens, moving from one promising project to another as they adapt to different opportunities that present themselves. Social Threes can also get into trouble by attempting to rise faster than they are able or by taking on tasks that they are not yet ready or qualified to perform. The desire to please and to impress can become a powerful magnet that can derail the Social Three from pursuing real, achievable goals.The Levels of Development
An explanation of the nine Levels of Development can be found here, which opens in a new window.
Below is the complete Levels of Development diagram for Type Three. The levels range from most healthy, Level 1, to least healthy, Level 9. To understand these charts, start with the Basic Fear, at the top right of the chart. This fear gives rise to the Basic Desire, which is the Desire at the second level of health, the Level of Psychological Capacity.
The Desire of each level gives rise to the internal Attitudes (the A-Terms) of each level, which create the external Behaviors (the B-Terms). Over time, due to internal conflicts, these behaviors and attitudes create another layer of Fear at that level.
Each new Fear generates yet another desire at the next lower level, which gives rise to a new set of attitudes and behaviors, creating a spiral structure in which a person becomes increasingly enmeshed in self-destructive reactions and increasingly terrifying fears. The process of growth is to become aware of each of the cluster of attitudes and behaviors as they occur, bringing conscious awareness into the moment. As we do this, the underlying fears and desires also begin to emerge into consciousness, and the person begins to shift up the levels.
|PERSONALITY TYPE THREE: The Achiever|
|THE HEALTHY LEVELS:|
|1. Level of Liberation|
|Lets go of their identification with a particular self-image, that their value is dependent on their accomplishments and the positive regard of others||
Of being worthless
|Basic Desire:||Secondary Fears:|
2. Level of Psychological Capacity
|To feel valuable and worthwhile||That they will be rejected (of disappointing others
by being less than outstanding)
|3. Level of Social Value|
|To develop themselves (to be "all that they can be")||Of falling behind, of being over-shadowed by others
|THE AVERAGE LEVELS:|
|Social Role: The Best|
|4. Level of Imbalance|
|To distinguish themselves from others; to be noticed, valued by others||Of losing the positive regard of others
5. Level of Interpersonal Control
|To create a favorable impression of themselves (to impress)||
That others will see through them — they will be humiliated,
|6. Level of Overcompensation|
|To convince themselves and others of the reality of their image||That they are failing, that their claims are empty,
|THE UNHEALTHY LEVELS:|
|7. Level of Violation|
|To preserve the illusion that they are still superior, still okay||Of being caught, of losing any reason for others
to think well of them (that there is nothing about thempeople
|8. Level of Delusion & Compulsion|
|To do whatever is necessary to support their false claims (without being found out)||
That their falseness and emptiness will be exposed —
they will be ruined
|9. Level of Pathological Destructiveness|
|To destroy whoever or whatever threatens them or reminds them of what they lack||Basic Fear comes true: they are rejected as worthless|
Threes grow by recognizing that they do not need to separate their work and functioning from their feelings. Threes believe they will be less effective and competent if they allow their feelings to enter the picture. Thus, they wait until they are done with their tasks before they pay any attention to their emotions. Nonetheless, their emotions are always operating, even if unconsciously. And if Threes neglect them too long, those emotions start to make functioning much more difficult. Thus, growth for Threes entails pausing while working and actively checking in with their feelings. By tuning in to their heart, and becoming more conscious of their inner life, Threes derive much greater happiness and satisfaction from their work and from their relationships.
- For our real development, it is essential to be truthful. Be honest with yourself and others about your genuine feelings and needs. Likewise, resist the temptation to impress others or inflate your importance. You will impress people more deeply by being authentic than by bragging about your successes or exaggerating your accomplishments.
- Develop charity and cooperation in your relationships. You can do this by taking time to pause in busy day to really connect with someone you care about. Nothing spectacular is required—simply a few moments of quiet appreciation. When you do so, you will become a more loving person, a more faithful friend—and a much more desirable individual. You will feel better about yourself.
- Take breaks. You can drive yourself and others to exhaustion with your relentless pursuit of your goals. Ambition and self-development are good qualities, but temper them with rest periods in which you reconnect more deeply with yourself. Sometimes taking three to five deep breaths is enough to recharge your battery and improve your outlook.
- Develop your social awareness. Many Threes have grown tremendously by getting involved in projects that had nothing to do with their own personal advancement. Working cooperatively with others toward goals that transcend personal interest is a powerful way of finding your true value and identity.
- In their desire to be accepted by others, some average Threes adapt so much to the expectations of others that they lose touch with what they are really feeling about the situation. Develop yourself by resisting doing what is acceptable just to be accepted. It is imperative that you invest time in discovering your own core values.