The Achiever (Enneagram Type Three) is an energetic, goal-oriented “Type A” personality with a lifelong dream to continuously improve on every aspect of their life. Threes are energized by new plans, activities, and meetings to get things done and make things happen. Most at ease in the spotlight, they actively search for opportunities to push their name, talents, and credibility out into the world.
Sophisticated and image-conscious, high-flying Threes know exactly how to work hard and play hard. In the workplace, field, house, or air (for all the astronauts and pilots), they give each challenge their blood, sweat, and tears to successfully break through—with new heights and high scores. If this drive is paired with a healthy growth mindset, Threes can truly become a force to be reckoned with.
Throughout their life, Threes feel the need to keep improving and hustling (it’s arguable that the new-age #hustle culture has been single-handedly founded by Threes). They work extra hard to garner followers, credentials, and awards—while looking effortlessly stylish on top of it all. Underneath the surface, however, they may struggle with feeling like an imposter, along with intense self-esteem issues.
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Table of contents
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
The Enneagram Type Three – The Achiever
A Quick Overview of the Three:
- Part of the Heart Triad (along with Enneatypes Two and Four)
- Can have a Two or Four wing: 3w2 or 3w4
- Nicknamed ‘The Achiever’
- Ego Fixation: Vanity
- Vice: Deceit
- Virtue: Authenticity
- Integrates into the Six (The Loyalist) under growth
- Disintegrates to the Nine (The Peacemaker) under stress
- Basic Fear: To be worthless or without value apart from their achievements.
- Basic Desire: To be worthwhile, desirable, and accepted
Values are the core beliefs that make up the most important aspects of life. They have a strong influence over important decisions, especially during critical times, when standing between a fork in the road.
Common Values of the Three:
The Enneagram model of personality identifies three distinct levels of health for each type: healthy, normal, and unhealthy.
Under healthy levels of growth, Threes integrate in the direction of the Six, and become more community-focused and committed to making contributions for the well-being of society. They also allow others to share in the spotlight and learn the principles of effective teamwork along the way. Once ruthlessly ambitious and status-seeking, healthy Threes are emotionally intelligent and genuinely want to inspire and help others succeed as well.
Resourceful and bursting with energy, balanced Threes often find success as coaches or mentors to ignite inspiration in others and propel action. They learn how to remove their many masks from the past and be wholly authentic in expressing their thoughts. Others will take notice and appreciate their newfound realness. Most importantly, Threes are able to cultivate and focus on activities outside of their career—and perfect the work-life balance tango.
At average levels, Threes thrive under pressure and seem to be continually setting goals (think SMART: Specific-Measurable-Attainable-Realistic-Timely). They make the effort to go above and beyond, as proud overachievers—to eventually “become somebody”. The Script, an Irish rock band, sang it best in Hall of Fame: “You can be a master, don’t wait for luck, dedicate yourself [and you’re gonna] find yourself standing in the hall of fame.”
Image-conscious and aware of pre-existing social hierarchies, Threes make every effort to learn the rules of the game, as they’re in it to win it, even if it means practicing their craft over time and giving 110%. As their fan-base and support increases, they can develop arrogant traits and shut down people who try to oppose their opinions or decisions. At this point, toxic behaviors take center stage as Threes shift the blame onto their external circumstances. They become more self-promoting, competitive, and concerned about their image as a defense against their secret insecurities.
Under unhealthy levels of stress, Threes disintegrate in the direction of the Nine, and become passive, sluggish, and find themselves waist-deep in procrastination. Instead of striving for glory and fame, they accept the illusion that their efforts will eventually go to waste and lean toward self-destruction. Like running into quicksand, they desperately try to escape the funk as quickly as possible—only to sink deeper into despair and confusion.
After Threes endure too much failure or stagnancy, they begin to fall into dangerous loops of feeling grossly inadequate. Their darkest fear of ending up as a useless “nobody” in society emerges, and they typically isolate themselves to console these worries or plunge into mindless distractions (e.g. watching television for hours on end, the weird side of Youtube, etc,..).
Type 3 Behavior Under Healthy Levels:
- Open, honest, and brave
- Willing to mentor and support others
- Mentally and physically balanced
- Strong emphasis on sharing
- Intrinsically makes friends and decisions
Type 3 Behavior Under Normal Levels:
- Type A habits: prone to overworking
- Focus on the extrinsic value of tasks
- Trend-aware and culturally savvy
- Energetic and attuned to their reputation
- Status-seeking and charismatic
Type 3 Behavior Under Unhealthy Levels:
- Failure-adverse and depressed
- Keep emotional vulnerabilities and failures hidden
- Burnt-out and emotionally numb
- Reliance on deception to relate to others
- Extremely self-conscious and anxious
- Distrustful and secretive
When it comes to vocational preferences, Threes gravitate toward careers where they can use their skills and talents to influence and charm others. And of course, indulge in the shameless self-promotion that naturally follows.
- Social Media Specialist
- Brand Ambassador
During down time, Threes aim to express their wide range of talents and hone their skills to move up the (proverbial) ladder in their games and areas of choice.
- Competitive sports
- Developing talents
Many well-known actors and singers throughout history were Threes in the Enneagram. Threes are often spotted (and most comfortable) in the limelight.
Quotes From Famous Enneagram Type Threes:
- “When I was a boy, I always saw myself as a hero in comic books and in movies. I grew up believing this dream.” – Elvis Presley
- “When you have to cope with a lot of problems, you’re either going to sink, or you’re going to swim.” – Tom Cruise
- “I have always tried with my shows—win, lose or draw—to take the boundaries of music as far as I can.” – Andrew Lloyd Webber
- “The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Summing It Up…
This video will leave you with some of the most important facts of the 3 Enneatype.
Find Out More About Your Type:
More Enneagram Type Three Resources:
Lily Yuan is a personality psychology writer who has a knack for just missing the bus. She tests as INTP 5w4 and constantly questions her type. Learn more at www.lily-yuan.com or follow her on Twitter @LilyYuanWrites.