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The Enneagram 8 – The Challenger

The Challenger (Enneagram 8 Type) is a powerful and headstrong fighter and advocate for those who are disadvantaged or lack a voice in society. They believe, with vigor and pride, that the future is malleable and within their control to wield. Eights are bold, daring, and willing to break down walls themselves.

When life throws Eights lemons, they leap on the opportunity, make the best-tasting lemonade, and execute a downright effective game plan to turn the incident into one which gives them an upper hand. Yes, Eights will turn failures into success—by simply reframing and anchoring their mindsets toward growth. They are often drawn towards leadership roles because they crave independence and struggle with authorities being in control over them.

As Eights mature and learn to acknowledge their softer and more vulnerable sides, their relationships grow in depth and improve drastically. They become less aggressive about plowing the field and more keen on nurturing their (real and metaphorical) houseplants. Loved ones will notice their gradual shift in behavior, and let them know.

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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

A Quick Overview of the Eight:

  • Part of the Body Triad (along with Enneatypes Nine and One)
  • Can have a Seven or Nine wing: 8w7 or 8w9
  • Nicknamed ‘The Challenger’
  • Ego Fixation: Vengeance
  • Vice: Lust
  • Virtue: Innocence
  • Integrates into the Two (The Helper) under growth
  • Disintegrates into the Five (The Investigator) under stress
  • Basic Fear: To lose the ability to gain and hold power
  • Basic Desire: To be in control of the external and internal environment

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 Eight:

  • Strength
  • Power
  • Influence
  • Achievement
  • Perseverance

The Enneagram model of personality identifies three distinct levels of health for each type: healthy, normal, and unhealthy.

Under healthy levels of growth, Eights integrate in the direction of the Two, and become more caring, as they eventually learn how to let down their guards. They’re protective of those who are disadvantaged and give it their best shot to fight for them. In a crisis, they proudly protect their loved ones and shield them from any potential signs and sources of danger or harm.

As Eights mature and flourish, they develop sophisticated systems of managing emotions and relationships, to which all parties involved can grow and learn from each other. They’re both strong and kind; driven and forgiving. When Eights discover the beauty and meaning behind standing still and fully taking in and cherishing each moment of the present.

At normal levels, Eights are driven by a sense of power, influence, and competence. They’re sensitive to the power dynamics in every conversation and situation they encounter (and often have a secret penchant for eavesdropping and people-watching). Eights naturally take charge of situations because they don’t want someone else to have control and steer the ship in the wrong direction. They analyze and dissect conversations (again, only in their minds) to figure out the underlying formalities and subtle shifts in tone or mood. Many are acute and have sharp skills, highly suitable for work in law enforcement or the military.

In contrast to the (also competitive) Three, Eights are far more concerned about rising to the top—whatever it takes—and will likely offend (read: more than) a few people along their path. With eyes on the prize, Eights assert their dominance and sit in the driver’s seat when it comes to steering the course of their lives. Deadlines? Bring it. Prioritization? Of course. Work? Signed, sealed, delivered, and done.

Under unhealthy levels of stress, Eights disintegrate in the direction of the Five, and become isolative, preoccupied with research and solitude. The once determined spark in their eyes dwindles away and is replaced with a lifeless gaze. In business or professional pursuits, Eights can develop a serious case of tunnel vision, where irrelevant details are given more credit than necessary.

Their once audacious plans gather dust at this stage, abandoned and forlorn. Eights have rationalized the inevitable doom for their projects, and feel dejected to pick themselves up and try something new. At their tipping point, they may take on a risky investment or venture and go “all in” with their hard-earned assets, with hopes to turn around the situation (with some luck) in a short amount of time. This feat almost always ends up in shreds, which leaves Eights miserable and trapped further down the hole of debt.

An infographic about the Enneagram 8 personality type at unhealthy, average, and healthy levels of maturity.

Enneagram 8 Behavior Under Healthy Levels:

  • Protective of loved ones
  • Gallant walk and voice projection
  • Fearless and visionary for a brighter future
  • Productive and hardworking
  • Emotionally aware and empathetic

Enneagram 8 Behavior Under Normal Levels:

  • Easily irritated and angered
  • Competitive and forceful
  • “My way or the highway”
  • Strong (or subtle) superiority complex
  • Argumentative and high-strung

Enneagram 8 Behavior Under Unhealthy Levels:

  • Less do, more think
  • Withdrawing and negative
  • Development of tunnel vision
  • Lack of self-esteem and self-efficacy
  • Isolative and sheltered

When it comes to vocational preferences, Eights gravitate towards careers where they can hold power and status over others. They excel in managing and streamlining finances, people, and ideas.

  • Politician
  • Product Manager
  • Consultant
  • Investor
  • Advisor

During down time, Eights aim to exercise their mental and physical finesse on the path of constant improvement.

Common Hobbies:

  • Debating
  • Exercising
  • Goal-setting
  • Extreme sports
  • Public speaking

Many well-known CEOs and influential figures throughout history were Eights in the Enneagram. Eights are often seen in positions of power and make natural leaders.

Quotes From Famous Enneagram 8 Types:

  • “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway
  • “There’s always a new challenge to keep you motivated.” – Sean Connery
  • “Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday.” – John Wayne
  • “In life, all good things come hard, but wisdom is the hardest to come by.” – Lucille Ball

Other Articles You Might Enjoy:

The Enneagram 8 Child

Myers-Briggs® and the Enneagram – What’s the Same, and What’s Different

Here’s How You Communicate, Based On Your Enneagram Type

The Hidden Talents of Every Enneagram Type

More Enneagram Type Eight Resources:

About the Author:

Lily Yuan, Personality Blogger

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 or follow her on Twitter @LilyYuanWrites.

Get an in-depth look at what it's like to be an #enneatype eight! #Enneagram #Personality

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