May 142013

Do You Engage Only in Activities You Are Good at in Order to Avoid Failure?

This is the third in a series of articles based on the nine personalities of the Enneagram. We use the Enneagram Personality Assessment in our Coaching and Ascending Leader’s Program(TM) to gain knowledge about our behaviors and those of our team members. Self-knowledge helps us understand why we do things the way we do. It also helps us understand why others do things the way they do.

In this issue, I will discuss personality Type 3, The Achiever. The Achiever is a motivator, a status seeker and one who is driven and image conscious. Achievers feel the need to succeed, and they are energetic, optimistic, and self-assured. They are primarily motivated by their desire to achieve a successful image, and they feel it’s more important to get something done than to get it right. While poised and diplomatic, Achievers can be overly concerned with image and the opinion of others.

Threes can be challenged by competitiveness and workaholism. They want others to see them as successful. As such, Achievers exemplify the human need for attention, encouragement, and affirmation. They engage in competition because they fear being overshadowed by someone else.

Threes use their Heart Center to focus on how others respond to them in terms of gaining their respect and admiration. These Achievers read their audience quite well and can change their persona in order to elicit the response they desire. Because of this, they are called the “chameleons” of the Enneagram.

Famous Achievers include Michael Jordan, Bill Clinton, Denzel Washington, Sharon Stone, George Clooney, Demi Moore, Halle Berry, and Vince Lombardi. They figure out practical ways to use their resources, communicate by talking about results, work under pressure to achieve the outcomes they want, and pursue their goals until they attain them.

How do we recognize a Type 3? They exemplify a desire to be their best self, to develop all of their potential, and to value others and themselves. They have a generous smile as well as a pleasantly seductive demeanor. They make you feel appreciated, fully heard, and good about yourself. Threes are the “stars” of the personality types – people of tremendous drive, ambition, and belief in themselves.

The average Achiever is well intentioned, an excellent communicator, motivator, and promoter. They can be very effective in building morale and company spirit. They value excellence and accomplishment, and enjoy helping others discover how to shine. This makes them feel real, and they impress others with their sincerity. At their best they are tender, genuine, and affectionate – role models and heroes who inspire others.

Unhealthy Achievers can drive themselves too hard, leading to unnecessary stress. This can cause them to go on “autopilot,” or attempt to get thru difficulties without being bothered. As a result, they lose focus and involve themselves in busy work to give the appearance that they are getting things done. Sometimes they become stubborn and refuse help, not wanting to accept that they have a problem.

The Type 3 communicates by enthusiastically motivating themselves and others for success. They are frequently in management or leadership positions in business, law, banking, the computer field, and politics. They also tend to be in the public eye as broadcasters and performers.

Coaching an Achiever may focus on their strengths, which are energetic, entrepreneurial, confident, and results oriented. For development purposes, coaches assist Achievers by helping them understand the extent to which they over identify with their work as well as the personal price they pay for doing so. They expect a clear discussion and a firm decision about their coaching goals early in the coaching process. A key motivator for development is to have them see themselves as successful without feeling the pressure of always having to prove it.

If you are a Type 3, or know one, know that they are in their element when they drive for results. They have the ability to maintain a laser like focus. The core of their Enneagram personality architecture is to achieve outstanding goals and results.
Suggestions and exercises for Achievers are about relaxation and self-nurturing.

  • Schedule time every day to rest and practice meditation or stress-reduction techniques including massages, steam baths, or saunas.
  • Make time for activities you value outside of work.
  • Reduce stress by appreciating and accepting your present level of success.
  • Take a vacation and leave all your work at home.

Remember, none of the personality types is better or worse than any other. All types have unique assets and liabilities, strengths and weaknesses. While it is common to find a little of ourselves in each of the nine types, one of them typically stands out as being closest to ourselves. This is our basic personality type.

The Enneagram is a valuable tool coaches can use with individual clients and teams, helping them understand why they behave the way they do. In an organization or business, this can help in employee development, hiring decisions, or forming highly functional teams.

To identify your dominant personality type, visit and take the free assessment, or take the enhanced assessment for ten dollars, then contact me so we can discover how you can become more effective in your work and personal life. Coaching can be a valuable resource for developing yourself, your business, and your employees.


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