Enneagram Type 3

Type 3: The Performer / Achiever

Threes belong to the Heart Triad. They repress feelings especially those of sadness and channel their optimistic focus toward being busy and productive and into doing and presenting a successful image to others. The Three then appears very driven—a workaholic. Threes learn to avoid pain by juggling multiple tasks and projects, or adjusting their image to be seen as successful.

Early Childhood

During childhood, the Type 3 child felt rewarded only for what they did and how well they did it. Their feelings were discounted and ignored, only their performance and what was expected of them mattered. This harmed their ability to love themselves and others. Admiration replaced real love.

Strengths of the Type Three

1) Ambitious: Threes are optimistic, friendly, and upbeat. They are energetic and out there to connect, get ahead and move toward their ideals which could be about connection with others or achieving targets.

2) Threes are Resilient from setbacks and are able to ward off most challenges partly because they have also blocked much of their capacity to feel pain. They charge ahead in tough times with the goal clearly at the top of their minds.

3) They are resourceful, informed, actively participate and frequently take charge of situations to ensure progress is sustained in projects. Their playing a big part in it, allows for better control to keep things on course.

4) Persistent: Threes are the most persevering and they have a relentless work ethic to be competent and be able to get things to work efficiently. They are known to live to work and ensure they reach new heights of success and growth consistently. The worst nightmare for a Type 3 is to be laid off from work and feel useless.

5) They strive to be the best, set goals and milestones and have a boundless energy to get there. Ambitiousness is the order of the day and a Three will not sleep if they recognize they have not put a hard day’s work to get on track with their goals.

6) They are known to put their best foot forward, to look good, feel good and have a comfortable life. They appreciate good quality and will strive to maintain this quality of life.


Any type becomes Unresourceful when they begin to over-do some of the thoughts and behaviours that are typical of the type.

1) Live to work: Threes have a fear of being seen as unsuccessful. Hence, where they perceive this might be lacking there is a deep insecurity of failure or not having achieved much. So, they work themselves to the bone and repress their feelings. Threes sometimes can’t see an illness coming because of their dogged pursuit for the external trophy.

2) Excessively image conscious: Their energy is put into developing a positive image vs how they feel. Hence, as mentioned, it’s hard to find a Type 3 who does not care about how they look. However, once it gets overboard, there is excessive resources that go into buying branded goods and expensive wears which they believe will make them feel better. However, the pattern of vanity and looking good only serves to deprive them of looking after more important needs like balance in life and inner happiness rather than external pleasures.

3) Wants to stand out on top: Threes tend to compare themselves to people who do things better. While it brings out the competitive spirit to strive for excellence, it also evokes a sense of need to be superior and be a cut above the rest.

4) Inauthentic: They can assume a chameleon-like adaptation strategy and blend in with the rest. They can be inclined to put on a façade or wear the cloak of success even if they aren’t successful yet. Fake it till you make it is an unconscious mantra. Authenticity can afford to take a back seat. This is when they might sometimes take great effort to hide certain deficiencies by faking success or not allowing themselves to be vulnerable and face up to it with courage.

Reflections for the Type Three

1) Learn to detect when you are putting on this “image” of performance and when you are not. This self-awareness will allow you to serve your needs rather than your self-image.

2) Learn to do some things for its own sake, that you can be proud of, rather than doing things for the sake of approval from others.

3) Like the 8’s and 1’s, you are not good at taking a break or noticing that you need one. Breaks allow you to take stock and reinvent.

4) Threes will find it hard to sit and do nothing which is why meditating will be last on your list but do consider it. It will keep you grounded, stable and mindful.

5) Learn to move more with the flow of events and experiences and be less driven to continuously try to make things happen.

6) Find people whom you are comfortable sharing your vulnerabilities. Putting on a façade of extreme competence and ability adds extra stress and expectation to your already busy schedule. Others can help you see a perspective you can’t.

7) Try being part of a team and being in the fringes rather than calling the shots all the time. This allows you to build other competencies while harnessing relationships with others and focusing on the big picture.

Self-Preservation Type Three

Known as The Company Man or Woman and their Vulnerabilities / Vices is Security. They can accomplish their goals of financial security with their drive, but they can lose their real selves and become workaholics.

Sexual or One-to-One Type Three

Known as The Movie Star and their Vulnerabilities / Vices is Femininity or Masculinity. Their personal charisma makes them attractive and they stay in the performer role, whether on the center stage or in personal relationships.

Social Type Three

Known as The Politician and their Vulnerabilities / Vices is Prestige. They can adapt and sustain a successful image to gain prestige, and know the right people to achieve influence in social or business communities.

Read more on the 27 Sub Types here.