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Ancient symbol. Modern psychology. 

The Enneagram Type 3 Journal:
A Guide to Inner Work & Self-Discovery for The Acheiver

Check out the newest resource now available for your Type 3 Enneagram journey!


Adaptable, Success-Oriented, Driven, and Egotistical


to feel valuable, worthwhile, to be successful and admirable



manifests as a constant drive to present themselves in a way that does not reflect their authentic self but instead creates a mask of “value”


to be a failure, to feel worthless and of no value, to be unsuccessful



seek out opportunities to prove their worth by manipluating the truth to serve their own need to succeed and thus prove their value


to be affirmed, to distinguish themselves from others, to have attention, to be admired, and to impress others, to appear worthy for what they do in order to hide who they really are



acceptance of authentic self in that they are loved not for what they do, but for who they are, they move out into the world with honesty and genuineness  


Heart / Feeling

wisdom held in the heart and through emotional awareness is used to create a self-identity that will manifest an impressive exterior in order to conceal the deep shame and guilt around the feelings of unworthiness


expel energy outward to create opportunities to prove their value 

Pain and suffering often transforms into internalized and repressed shame and guilt ; denial of shame is likely



negative — self-centered and focused on image, possessive and unintentionally manipulative

positive — dedicated, self-aware, efficient in making things happen, deep concern for people, warm and caring


negative — overly competitive and egotistical, manipulative and emotionally distorted, begin acting with hidden agenda

positive — adaptable, connected to others, strive to improve themselves and others, emotionally aware and receptive to others



negative — become self-absorbed highly indecisive, anxiety and fear take over, self doubt and imposter syndrom

positive — deeply connected to finding solutions where they are instead of manipulating situations



negative — aimless and apathetic, detached from compassion and self awareness, overwhelmed adn stressed

positive — ability to pause for reflection and emotional honesty, grounded in the moment to become present in order to grow


Enneagram Threes are self-assured, attractive, and charming. Ambitious, competent, and energetic, they can also be status-conscious and highly driven for advancement. They are diplomatic and poised, but can also be overly concerned with their image and what others think of them. They typically have problems with workaholism and competitiveness. All Threes share an aversion to "failure"; in whatever form resonates with them personally.

Threes exemplifies our desire to be our best self, to develop all of our potentials, and to value ourselves and others. Threes are the "stars", people of tremendous drive, ambition, and belief in themselves. They want to excel, to be the best at whatever they do, and they are willing to put in the effort it takes to do so. Threes can be found at the gym, taking classes at night, putting in extra hours at work, learning how to coordinate their best colors when they dress-basically doing what it takes to shine. Threes are generally energetic and ambitious. They strive to be presentable and appropriate, not wanting to come across in ways that would be disapproved of.  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.


Healthy Levels of Development:  When operating from a healthy level of development the Three becomes self-accepting, inner-directed, and authentic, modest, and charitable, they use self-deprecatory humor, and a fullness of heart emerges. Threes become gentle and benevolent, leading with authenticity and an inspiration charisma. They are willing to face failure with principled strength and resilience, leading with kindness and selflessness in the face of division, confrontation, and conflict. They have found truthfulness in the ability to access the authentic self and take right action with a collective awareness rather than a self centered approach. They find worthy causes and channel their energy into making the cause successful and impactful, sometimes finding supporting roles without needing to be front and center. The need to project a “desirable” identity in order to maintain validation transforms into the emotional awareness for growth over progress.

Average Levels of Development: Threes are projecting a fraudulent self-image, unwilling to engage authentically, they become shape-shifting, stubborn, self-absorbed, shameful, and apathetic towards other people. Threes become conceited and self-serving, they are emotionally distorted, they deflect their authentic self and repress their capacity for humility. They are apprehensive of forward progress or sacrifice without the guarantee of success, their apathy is caused by fear of failure. Often deeply hurt or insecure individuals who feel that they must be “on top” to be valued, never overshadowed or outdone by others, they become deceptive and dishonest, bending their truth to become whatever will make them the most "impressive".

Unhealthy Levels of Development: Threes become extremely egotistical, self-centered, dishonest, vindictive, and duplicitous individuals who justify their actions and beliefs from the unhealthy energy of Point Three. Threes can also become relentless and obsessive about destroying whatever reminds them of their own shortcomings and failures. Fear, shame, and low self-worth are the primary motivators that distort reality resulting in a destructive arrogance that facilitates the dehumanization of anyone who challenges their value. Deep down they fear that someone has seen through their facade and knows how much shame they are holding onto which can trigger feelings of deep guilt and worthlessness, and reinforce the aversion to failure which will further fuel deceitful and narcissistic behaviors. 


Triggers / Biases: injustice towards marginalized communities, experiencing the devaluing of a person, failure of a cause, not contributing to the solution, self-betrayal, a disregard for the feelings of others, witnessing someone being dismissed or diminished based on identity, devaluing of dimensions of diversity that cannot be controlled ie. race/ethnicity, physical/mental ability, disabilities, or gender and sexual diversity, dismissal of personal value, underachieving, “lazy”, or unsuccessful people, personal trauma projection onto external situations and people

IDEA Challenge: Threes are always aiming for the top—falling or failing is not an option. As they navigate challenges they may cut corners or bend the truth to make sure they secure a position at the top. But this aversion to failure, in whatever form it may take, deprives Threes of opportunities to truly grow and become a whole human being who is authentically exceptional and capable of true greatness. In the search for success and achievement, Threes often forget to look back and offer a hand to those behind them. They become narcissistic, and the scope of focus narrows; they forget to honor their own humanity, thus negating everyone else’s humanity along the way. Additionally, many Threes’ strong inner drive for hard work and persistence leads them to believe that another person’s circumstance could be improved if they just worked a little harder, rather than the person’s circumstances being beyond their control or a direct result of systemic inequities. This is a common disconnect for many Threes when communicating across differences and can lead to actions, beliefs, and behaviors steeped in bias, bigotry, and stereotyping.

Disconnects: They often experience a blindspot for opportunities for authenticity through failure. A typical disconnect for Three is a constant need to project an impressive exterior but deep down they are tiptoeing the line of being truly great and being fearful that they are not in fact anything great at all. They may have the experience of “imposter syndrome”, as do most people who identify with Three energy. They believe that someday someone will see through the shiny exterior and discover that they are a fraud who is empty and undeserving. This fear leads them to conceal their authentic self and develop an impressive persona to mask whatever shame they are feeling about being loved for what they do instead of who they are. The concept of “horizontal bias” is a common trait found within the Three energy: the dehumanization of people who fall into similar categories of diversity as a way of lowering the value of others to elevate their own value. They often find it difficult to address their own internal wounds or trauma; fearing that people will see through the shiny exterior of the persona they’ve constructed, they shift the guilt outwards and hold on to their achievements and success in order to conceal their real pain. 


Unhealthy Reaction: vanity over advocacy, inability to speak up, narcism, false sense of self-image, inaction, jealousy, avoidance, emotional distortion, shame, misdirected anger, distorting the truth to fulfill a need to be seen as valuable, emotionally demonstrative displays aimed at people who challenge the Three's identity of being a good/valuable/worthy/successful person.

Healthy Reaction: pause for honest reflection, courage, compassion, empathy, emotional honesty, externally focused, balanced self-awareness and communal awareness, outspoken and fierce challenges to biased, bigoted, and discriminatory situations, genuine desire to be present and honest with no hidden agenda, ability to take action, motivational charisma manifests and inspires others to get involved and show up as authentic allies.


If you would like more information about The Enneagram in business please visit


Dr. Deborah Egerton and her team of Trinity Transition consultants are inclusion, diversity, equity, and anti-racism specialists. Our culture change initiatives utilize the Enneagram and trademarked TTC tools to design workplace and community workshops. Our work creates the mindset shift necessary within communities and organizations to respect the diversity of every individual at all levels of society. We coach individuals, organizations, and communities to move from the space of apathy & tolerance to acceptance & inclusion.
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