Enneagram Type 3: Description and Characteristics

Enneagram Type 3: Description and Characteristics

The Enneagram is a psychological model of nine distinct personality types. It describes how each personality type manages their emotions and drives, and how they respond to the outside world.

It also examines how the personality types interact with each other, demonstrated in the nine-pointed Enneagram symbol below.

Enneagram Personality Test: All You Need to Know
Enneagram Personality Test: All You Need to Know

The nine personality types are:

  1. The Reformer or Perfectionist
  2. The Helper or Giver
  3. The Achiever
  4. The Individualist
  5. The Investigator
  6. The Loyalist or Skeptic
  7. The Enthusiast
  8. The Challenger
  9. The Peacemaker

The Enneagram personalities are grouped into three classifications – heart, head and body.

Heart types react with emotional intelligence. Head types use intellectual intelligence to respond to the world. Body types rely on instinctual intelligence.

The nine personalities are grouped like this:

  • Heart (emotion) – Types 2, 3 and 4
  • Head (intellect) – Types 5, 6 and 7
  • Body (instinct) – Types 8, 9 and 1

Everyone will identify with one of the nine personalities, but an individual’s unique reading will also include elements of other personalities too.

Each personality has a leaning towards one or the other of their Enneagram type wings. This will be one of the personality types on either side of your main personality. For instance, a type 3 personality may have a 2 wing or a 4 wing.

Your wing will add a further element to your main type personality. For instance, an achiever may experience more of a helper’s sociability or an individualist’s introversion.

As with any psychological model, the Enneagram strives to help you understand both yourself and others. It can also be used to arrive at your most suitable career and industries to work in.

Finally, knowing your Enneagram personality type, how you react to the world, and your wing can help you grow into the best version of yourself.

For more information on all of the Enneagram personalities and the connected test, read the guide to the Enneagram test.

What Is an Enneagram Type 3 Personality?

The Achiever, sometimes referred to as the Performer, is a driven, ambitious and charming individual. They are competent, energetic and strive to achieve a high status in their peer circle and career.

As a heart type, they are driven by their emotions and place great value on what other people think of them. They seek to build their reputation as a go-getter and someone to be admired. At their core, an Achiever wishes to be accepted and valued by the people in their lives.

Achievers set big goals for themselves with the full belief that they can reach their targets.

Despite their drive and focus, Achievers are excellent at judging situations, whether that is their place in a team dynamic or how a problem can be solved and are able to adapt their behaviour accordingly.

As an employee, an Achiever can be highly valued for their hard work, drive and willingness to put in the extra hours, but this can sometimes work to their detriment. Achievers are prone to losing themselves in their work to the point of exhaustion, self-doubt and disillusionment.

You will often find Achievers working in the marketing and advertising arenas, but other compatible careers include lawyer, surgeon and investment banker. Achievers also make excellent entrepreneurs.

Famous Enneagram type 3s include Will Smith, Nancy Pelosi and Beyoncé.

Enneagram Type 3: Strengths and Weaknesses

As with any of the nine Enneagram personalities, the Achiever has their own distinct strengths and weaknesses.

The Achiever: Strengths

The Achiever is not only ambitious and driven, but they also have complete confidence and belief that they can accomplish their goals. If you want someone to drive a project and convince the team that success is a sure thing, then the Achiever is the person to have on your side.

Their charm and diplomacy skills mean that they have a talent for motivating others and getting the best out of anyone they encounter.

This leads to another strength of the Achiever – their ease at reading the room and adapting their behaviour appropriately.

At their best, type 3s find it easy to understand others and therefore know how to make connections. This understanding of colleagues or friends helps them to adapt their own behaviour to get the best out of people.

The Achiever is efficient. That is not to say they are always the hardest working. Instead, they can see the most efficient – and often most productive – way to get any task done.

Where other personality types may lose motivation or focus part-way through a project or task, the Achiever has their eyes set firmly on the end-result. Type 3s are goal-driven to the extreme. They are the people who will get the job done, because they find deep satisfaction in achieving their goals.

The Achiever: Weaknesses

At this point, you may have a picture of the Achiever as the ultimate employee, manager or leader, but as with any other Enneagram personality type, they also have their weaknesses.

The Achiever likes to make a good impression. They will generally be well-dressed, attractive, well-spoken and charismatic.

However, this level of presentation can often turn into a mask. The Achiever can invest so heavily in appearing professional and charming, that they lose sight of the entirety of their identity. They begin to identify with their professional or public image solely, to the detriment of the rest of their personality.

The Achiever likes to be seen as a success and therefore tries to distance themselves from failure or negativity. They may avoid difficult conversations, have little time for evaluating the reasons for the failure of a team project or task, or move on too quickly from their own failures instead of attempting to learn from them. This may be perceived as dismissal of others, a lack of caring or a lack of conscientiousness.

Enneagram Type 3: Description and Characteristics
Enneagram Type 3: Description and Characteristics

With their eyes on the end-goal, the Achiever can often be seen as impatient or dismissive of the details. They may brush away the concerns of colleagues in an attempt to maintain motivation and avoid what they see as negativity.

Their drive and ambition can cause others to perceive the Achiever as cut-throat and overly competitive if they do not take the time to connect with those around them.

If the Achiever assumes that everyone shares in their focus on the end-result without taking the time to motivate their colleagues, they may find themselves dragging a resentful team behind them instead of moving towards the end-goal together.

Growth Strategies for an Enneagram Type 3

At their healthiest, an Achiever is driven, successful and efficient, but also kind, open to constructive feedback and finds it easy to maintain a good work-life balance.

At their least healthy, an Achiever is overly competitive, needy for the approval of others and resentful.

Whether you are an Achiever yourself or you wish to understand and motivate one, there are many strategies that a type 3 can use to grow into the best version of themselves.

Take Time Out

There are two aspects to this strategy. First, the Achiever can become so embroiled in striving to reach their work and professional goals that they forget to take a break.

That means remembering to take a lunch break and refraining from working extra hours just to get the job done.

Like any other personality type, the Achiever needs time out to physically recoup from a hard day’s work, and, yes, that means switching off the mobile phone and stepping away from the computer at home.

Second, the Achiever can find more fulfilment in life by looking outside their professional life for enjoyment and quality of life from time to time. Time spent on hobbies, personal projects or with family can be just as satisfying as achieving work goals.

Embrace Failure as a Learning Tool

The Achiever does not like failure. It makes them uncomfortable. They will do their best to avoid it at all costs, whether that is the actual occurrence of failure or discussing a past failure, either their own or someone else’s.

However, the Achiever misses out on a valuable opportunity to learn from their mistakes when they fail to acknowledge their failures.

Examining why a project was unsuccessful or a goal was not achieved can have several benefits.

First, it teaches the Achiever to take responsibility for their actions, even the ones that they would rather brush under the carpet. Second, failure is a key step in making improvements to any process. It is simply one path to take to that end-goal so treasured by Achievers.

Finally, accepting one’s failures teaches humility and self-acceptance.

Develop a Mindful Approach

The Achiever can be so focussed on their goals that they forget to enjoy, or even notice, what is happening right now.

Mindfulness is all about being in the moment. Most Achievers will benefit from taking time to enjoy the now.

That might take the form of:

  • Walking with no mobile device to distract from what is going on around you
  • Spending time in nature
  • Sky-watching and thinking how many other people are looking up at that moment
  • Thinking of all the things you have in your life and what you are grateful for
  • Slowing down to use your five senses; notice one thing you can see, one thing you can hear and one thing you can smell.

Take the time to savor the taste of your favourite food. Use your sense of touch to appreciate the different textures of nature or the softness of a favourite piece of clothing.

Mindfulness grounds you in the present, instead of looking to the future or the past.

Learn to Really Listen to Others

The Achiever has the charm and people skills to adapt their own behaviour in a way to motivate others.

However, they can spend so much time working out how to adapt, what the best way is to get a task done or how to solve a problem that they forget to actually listen to their colleagues.

In their drive to reach that goal, or even decide what the goal should be, they can make assumptions about their colleagues and hear what they want to hear.

The Achiever who can learn to really listen to others, without the distraction of planning ahead or considering the impression that they are making on that person, will find it easier to form better connections with their colleagues.

Drop the Mask

The Achiever’s most basic need is to be accepted and valued by their peers and professional circles.

This is probably the main reason that they are so talented at adapting their behaviour to fit the situation or group dynamic. The Achiever likes to give a good impression and appear polished, professional and efficient. They are usually well-presented, attractive and charming.

However, the Achiever may find they adapt so much in their attempts to give the best impression that they lose themselves in the process. The impression they portray becomes a mask and not who they really are.

This is partly caused by their discomfort with failure and negativity. The Achiever fears displaying aspects of their personality that may not be acceptable to their peers or may not marry with the professional impression they wish to convey. They are uncomfortable with making themselves vulnerable.

The problem with continually ‘wearing a mask’ is that it can become tiring to maintain, breed resentment that the Achiever cannot be themselves and ultimately lead to burn-out.

Instead, the Achiever should embrace vulnerability, drop the mask and be their true, authentic self.

Frequently Asked Questions

Type 3 is known as ‘the achiever’. They are success-oriented and will dedicate themselves to hard tasks. In relationships, they can be quite driven if it is conducive to their long-term goals. The biggest fears for a Type 3 are failing in their projects and a sense of worthlessness.

Because Type 3s are ambitious and driven, they need someone calming to be around them. They do not work well in relationships that are competitive because it may harm their sense of worth.

Type 9s are good partners for a Type 3 because of the stability they bring to the relationships and the support they offer towards goals.

Type 3 is not as rare as a Type 8 Enneagram, but they are not common. In a population, they make up around 11% and it is a more common personality type in men than in women. Men who are Type 3 make up 12% of the population whilst women make up around 10%.

An Enneagram Type 3 is driven and dedicated to achieving their goals. Because of this, they mirror the MBTIs of ESTP, ENTP, ENTJ and ESTJ.

They are extroverted and outspoken, and they are task-oriented as well. You will find Enneagram Type 3 personalities in boardrooms and on project management teams.

Final Thoughts

The Achiever is a great team player with the skills to motivate others and work efficiently towards their goals.

However, they can often become so caught up in needing to be the best that they face burn-out or risk losing themselves in the professional impression they attempt to portray.

The path to health as an Enneagram type 3 is to slow down, learn from failures, actively listen to others, develop a mindful approach and dare to be their authentic self.


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