Common Descriptive Names: (1) The Achiever, (2) The Performer, (3) The Motivator
Unconscious Fear for type Three: Of being worthless (apart from their achievements)
To compensate for their Unconscious Fear an Unconscious Desire arises…..
Unconscious Desire for type Three: To be valuable and desirable (as measured by the favorable
responses they receive from others)
As our personality was forming in early childhood we each developed limiting subconscious beliefs
about ourselves, others and the world. For example, your mother or father might have yelled at you
“Get your hands out of there!” or “You should be ashamed of yourself!” or “Stop being such a cry
baby!” If you had really loving parents you might have heard, “Don’t touch that, it’s hot!” or “Don’t do
that, you might hurt yourself!” We also developed limiting beliefs about others. Growing up you may
have heard, “I don’t want you to play with those kinds of kids” or “Salesmen are sleazebags” or
“Politicians are so duplicitous and two-faced.” We also developed limiting beliefs about the world.
Newspapers and television constantly bombard our minds with reports of scandals, crimes, wars,
economic crises, natural disasters, and political corruption. Does this help us believe the world is a
loving, safe place to live? Of course not. One way or another, none of us escaped childhood without
some limiting subconscious beliefs. Your Enneagram type identifies some of the strongest
subconscious beliefs that you’ve developed over time based on your distorted perception of reality.
Limiting Subconscious Beliefs for type Three:
• My worth depends on my achievements.
• True feelings are not to be expressed if they make you look bad.
• My value is dependent on the positive regard of others.
• It’s important to present a winning image.
• It’s up to me to “make it” in life.
• To be loved I must be successful, a winner.
Core Coping Strategies for Threes:
: (where Threes focus their attention because of their
• Intense focus on tasks, goals, achievement, and success
• Manage time for maximum efficiency and productivity
• Work exceptionally hard and compete to be the best
• Can be extremely focused and work diligently
• Know how to present something in a compelling and acceptable way
• Repress feelings for maximum performance and results
• Present a winning personality that people will admire
• Meet challenges by being extremely adaptable. Threes adjust their behavior and affect
to meet expectations and succeed
Here’s a brief profile of some healthy, very healthy, average, unhealthy and destructive type
Healthy Threes are highly productive, naturally self-confident, optimistic and unpretentiously selfassured.
They have an attractive, winning personality. They’re energetic, enthusiastic, diplomatic and
often very charismatic and popular. They are tremendously hard-working but they’re also extremely
effective at time management and delegating responsibility so they get more done in a day than most
people do in two or three days. If Threes work with other people, they can be extremely good at
building company moral and improving team spirit since they have a positive, can-do attitude. They
are curious, adaptable and like to be in the know about what’s going on in the world. Healthy Threes
want to make something of themselves so they invest a lot of time and energy into improving
themselves and their lot in life. Healthy Threes are charming, have good manners and know how to
“win friends and influence people.” They are sociable, personable, likeable people who put their best
foot forward and present themselves well. They also know how to motivate, promote, market and
communicate exceptionally well. They can embody widely admired cultural values whichever country
they happen to live in (such as attractiveness, physical fitness, wealth, fame, popularity and
philanthropy in the U.S.). Healthy Threes are truly inspiring and many people aspire to be like them.
Very healthy Threes like Deepak Chopra* and Jack Canfield* are honest, inspirational, authentically
self-confident, self-accepting, inner-directed and humbly self-assured. They have intrinsic self-worth
and genuine self-esteem that has come from developing their talents fully and using them wisely.
They have gotten in touch with their deeper feelings and thus can be vulnerable, tender, affectionate,
self-revealing and intimate with others. Very healthy Threes believe in themselves like no other type
and always strive to be the best they can be at whatever they do under any circumstance. As a result,
they enjoy a fulfilling personal and professional life, becoming outstanding models of excellence and
accomplishment. They are supremely proactive and often use their talents and money to further
causes they believe in.
* My speculations based on their lives and my experience with the Enneagram
Average Threes fear being overshadowed by others so they strive harder to be noticed, to distinguish
themselves. They are competitive, driven for success and highly concerned about standing out from the crowd, looking good, being somebody. They seek recognition for their accomplishments and
constantly compare themselves to others to see how they are doing. In their drive for success they
can become pragmatic, task-focused workaholics, putting their feelings and personal values aside for
the sake of achieving the recognition they so covet. But they can fear that others are out-doing them
so they work harder and longer, sometimes neglecting their family and/or health, although their
appearance is important to them too so some do make time to workout. Their career is extremely
important to them as it becomes their vehicle for making a name for themselves. Professional
achievement and social recognition can become all consuming for average Threes. Some average
Threes are driven by status and prestige while others are more concerned with having material security
or being successful in the eyes of their family or those they admire.
Average Threes can be image-conscious and need to look good. They may buy a large house in a
prestigious neighborhood or an exotic car (that helps them stand out of course) or go for a glamorous
career (like being an actor or actress) or get more credentials and degrees to impress others. If they
are athletic (many top-notch athletes are Threes) they will be concerned with setting records, winning
the trophy or being the best in some way. They may even be concerned about how the people in their
lives reflect on them. How they are perceived is very important.
Average Threes like to learn about human behavior techniques, success strategies, winning formulas,
methods of negotiation and persuasion or anything that will give them an edge on the competition,
help them win people over or allow them to rise to the top and make a name for themselves. They can
be smooth talkers, saying or doing whatever they believe will work in a situation.
Average Threes can be out of integrity with themselves concerning who they are in public versus who
they are in private. It’s all driven by the need to impress and look good. In public they are highly
concerned about projecting a winning image, saying the right thing, being likeable, being popular and
adjusting their behavior and affect to suit the person or situation they are in. However, in private with
family, under pressure they can be impatient, edgy, cold, calculating, preoccupied and short tempered,
especially if bothered while working. Many average Threes have focused more on persona
development to win recognition and praise rather than character and soul development to value
themselves. They don’t know who they are apart from the images they project to others. As a
consequence, they can have problems with intimacy in a relationship (and I don’t mean sex) because
they fear that their charming, “I’ve got it all together,” public façade could be seen through and then
they’ll lose face. True intimacy is about being REAL with each other and average Threes have a hard
time opening up their heart, sharing personally, being emotionally vulnerable or bearing their soul to
their partner. They feel the e need to keep the relationship upbeat and action-oriented so that messy
feelings don’t get in the way.
Unhealthy Threes want to convince others (and themselves) that they are as successful as the image
they project. They are desperate for attention, recognition and validation. They are narcissistic and
often talk about themselves a great deal. They become superficial, self-promoting and self-important.
They can be ostentatious, pretentious show-offs with grandiose expectations of themselves. They
don’t just want to be successful, they want to be famous, a star. They have to inflate their talents and
accomplishments to impress people and bolster their low self-esteem. They can be dishonest, arrogant
and contemptuous to defend their fragile ego.
Destructive Threes do whatever is necessary to support their empty, fraudulent claims. They have
such an extreme fear of failure that they become deceptive and their life becomes a web of lies. They
are so detached from their Essential nature (higher self, Divine Being, etc.) that they become devious,
duplicitous, unscrupulous, exploitative and opportunistic. They don’t want anyone to realize how
troubled they are so they desperately try to convince others that they still have it all together by
making up impressive stories about their nonexistent wealth, fame and success. They can become
true con artists, imposters and swindlers. Even destructive Threes can still be charming and smooth
talking so some people can be deceived by their concoctions and under-handed schemes. At worst
they can become hostile, malicious, vengeful and psychopathological.