Driven, excelling, adaptable. If these words describe you, then there’s a chance you might be an Enneagram Type 3.
Enneagram Type 3s are known as achievers. They’re the success-oriented trailblazers of the Enneagram—the folks you’ll find out there getting things done (and doing them well).
If you want to learn more about what makes Threes tick, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll go over:
- How to tell if you’re an Enneagram 3 (plus a quick quiz!)
- The top five things to know about being an Enneagram 3
- What Enneagram Type 3 relationships are like
- The best Enneagram Type 3 careers
- The Enneagram Type 3 wings (Enneagram Type 3 wing 2 and Enneagram Type 3 wing 4)
Are you ready to learn about Enneagram 3? Then let’s begin!
Enneagram Type 3s are high achievers that value success, especially in their professional lives.
The Enneagram Type 3 Personality
Threes are motivated by a desire for personal success...and the attention that comes with it. They dedicate time and effort to understanding and developing their talents, and it shows: Threes are the people others look up to because their résumé is full of impressive accomplishments.
But Type 3s also know that success is about more than just skill or knowledge. Threes also understand that being pragmatic, flexible, likable, and gracious will help them get to where they want to go! That’s why it’s not surprising that Threes are often described as being both magnetic and influential people.
Since Threes are dedicated to developing their best qualities, they tend to inspire others to be their best selves, too. It’s why Threes tend to be popular people. Don’t be surprised if you find Threes occupying leadership positions or held up as role models!
Enneagram 3s definitely want to be successful, but they really thrive on the praise and attention that comes with that success. This means that Threes tend to be performance oriented. They often adjust their behavior to suit their audience in order to get the accolades they desire. In that way, Type 3s can be chameleons, changing themselves to suit the people around them, so they can be the belle of the ball.
But being a Three isn’t all awards ceremonies and standing ovations. When Threes are stressed, they are susceptible to losing sight of who they truly are. All that focus on impressing others can distance Type 3s from their inner awareness. They can spend so much time switching between roles that they forget what they truly want in life. Relentless pursuit of success can alienate Threes from their emotions too. At their lowest, Enneagram Type 3s can become obsessive and vindictive, seeking to destroy the happiness of others in order to cope with their feelings of inadequacy.
Since Threes have a need to achieve, you’ll often find them working in professions with high public visibility. Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Taylor Swift, Michael Jordan, and Muhammed Ali are all famous Threes!
Quiz: Are You an Enneagram Type 3?
Now you’ve got an idea of what a Three’s core personality is like...but you might be wondering if you’re really an Enneagram Type 3.
Good news—we’ve prepared a five question, yes-or-no answer quiz to help you get an idea of whether you’re a Three. So, read the following questions and answer with your gut instinct:
- Are you a person who excels at whatever you do?
- Do you like to be the center of attention?
- Do people often look to you for leadership or direction?
- Is being seen as a successful person really important to you?
- Would your family and friends describe you as well-liked or popular?
If you answered “yes” to three or more of the questions above, there’s a strong possibility that you’re a Three!
Top 5 Things to Know About Enneagram Type 3s
Grasping the core traits of the Three personality can help you get to know yourself (or another Enneagram 3) a little bit better.
Now, let’s look more closely at the core characteristics that set Threes apart from the other Enneagram types.
#1: They Really Care What Others Think
Threes need to feel valuable and worthwhile to be truly happy. This means that Threes work to earn the approval of others. Each choice they make is carefully considered in order to boost their outward image.
This may sound narcissistic at first, but it really means that Threes are eager to make others happy. For many Threes, helping others succeed is as fulfilling as meeting their own goals. Don’t be surprised if the Type 3s in your life surprise you with your favorite soup when you’re sick, or throw an amazing party for you on your birthday. Lifting others up can make Threes feel successful in their own relationships.
But being a person who’s always seeking to make others happy can come with some downsides. For instance, people often expect Threes to set an example of how to achieve excellence for others. Being a role model is a lot of pressure! This responsibility can influence Threes to adopt a “never let them see you sweat” attitude toward life. In other words, Enneagram Type 3s frequently ignore their own needs and desires in order to conform to others’ ideas of who they should be.
To keep their urge for approval-seeking in check, it’s important for Threes to take time for some introspection. Looking inside of themselves to be reminded of their core needs and values can help Threes strike a balance between making others happy and staying true to who they are.
#2: They’re Highly Driven
Threes are known as The Achievers on the Enneagram for a reason! Whether it’s a promotion at work or a new personal best marathon time, Threes are always trying to level up in life. This drive to achieve is backed by a wellspring of confidence—Threes believe they’re worth the effort to become the best at whatever they do.
Because they are so driven, Enneagram Type 3s frequently end up at the top of their class or profession. Their drive to improve and excel puts them out ahead of the pack. This is why people in leadership positions tend to be Threes!
If a Type 3’s drive to succeed gets out of hand, they can be susceptible to workaholism and unhealthy competitiveness. Sometimes Threes can become overly focused on their path to success, leading them to neglect or even sabotage other important aspects of their lives—particularly relationships with others. To combat the urge to overachieve and prevent burnout, it’s important for Threes to allow themselves time to rest. This means disconnecting from to-do lists and study plans in order to reconnect with others.
#3: They’re Adaptable
The fact that Threes are highly driven might give the impression that they’re inflexible. But the road to success is often full of potholes, so Threes actually have to be adaptable in order to achieve their goals.
Three’s adaptability is definitely a product of their ability to strategize. They commit a lot of time to implementing carefully laid plans for pursuit of success. But Threes recognize that it’s wise to have backup plans to their backup plans, which means they’re willing to change course if it helps them achieve their goals.
An Enneagram Type 3’s adaptability is also associated with their need to please. At their best, Threes have excellent social awareness. They’ll use this awareness to mold themselves into a person who will fit seamlessly into any situation or group. And this can be a great quality! Adapting to new contexts helps Threes make lots of friends from different walks of life.
But it’s also important for Threes to know when to draw the line on adapting who they are for the benefit of others. It’s easy for Enneagram Type 3s to adapt so much that they lose track of who they really are. This can be dangerous: Threes that neglect their true selves can be prone to depression. It’s important for Threes to make sure they’re meeting their own needs, too.
#4: They Love to Help Others
Helping others grow is important to Threes. They want to share their knowledge in order to lift others up! And because they’re experts at self-improvement, Threes are typically excellent mentors and motivators of the people around them.
That’s why Threes are often well-suited for leadership positions. They know how to help others identify their strengths and encourage them to develop those strengths into something truly amazing.
Like we mentioned earlier, Enneagram Type 3s are prone to tunnel vision, which can mean they unintentionally neglect the people around them. Working with others without the incentive to achieve can help Threes break out of that harmful cycle. It can also help them learn how to navigate social situations without always being the center of attention.
#5: Pragmatism Is Their Default Mode
Since Threes typically set concrete goals, they’re highly practical. To get what they want in life, Threes understand that they have to have an objective outlook on things. Threes love to build roadmaps to their goals, and they’re great at following through on them. Don’t be surprised to open a Three’s planner and find it full of lists, future goals, and steps for getting there!
Anticipating challenges gives Threes the chance to strategize about how to overcome them. Type 3s understand that finding success isn’t the result of sheer luck or chance—it’s the culmination of practical thinking, careful planning, and tons of hard work.
And that’s the real reason why others have a lot to learn from Threes. It may seem like success comes naturally or easily to them, but the truth is that there’s a lot of planning that goes into it!
Threes struggle to connect with their true selves, so they need a partner that will help them keep sight of who they really are.
Enneagram Type 3 Relationships
The biggest thing Threes want out of their relationships is affirmation. They seek out partners who recognize their inherent value and offer tons of praise and encouragement. Whatever they choose to do, Enneagram 3s need a cheerleader in their corner! Type 3s also appreciate it when their partners are willing to roll up their sleeves and pitch in to help them achieve their goals. Excellent partners for Threes are both affirming and hard working.
But being in a relationship with Threes can be challenging, especially for emotionally sensitive people. That’s because Threes often struggle to connect with their own inner feelings. While Threes crave emotional intimacy, getting them to connect on this level is easier said than done. Threes typically want to avoid conflict, and they don’t like to be vulnerable unless they know for sure they’ll be loved and accepted no matter what. For instance, Threes might not express their annoyance at the dirty dishes being left in the sink because they’re afraid their partner will either get angry or reject them. A patient partner who’s committed to maintaining open communication is a must for a Three.
Ultimately, for Threes to have healthy relationships, they have to focus on being honest with themselves and others. This requires openness about their feelings—even the ugly ones. Additionally, Threes must allocate some of their work ethic to nurturing their relationship. But if a Type 3 can be convinced to focus their considerable powers on their interpersonal relationships instead of that next promotion, they can build intimate connections with others that stand the test of time.
Because Enneagram 3s love to be the center of attention, they're great fits for careers in entertainment. They love the stage!
Best Enneagram Type 3 Careers
This probably won’t come as a surprise after everything we’ve covered about the Enneagram 3 personality: Type 3s are best suited for careers that have high public visibility, opportunities for advancement, and emphasize leadership.
For instance, it’s very common to find Threes working in advertising and public relations (in fact, Don Draper of the TV show Mad Men is a Three!). Advertising is competitive, fast-paced, and requires unmatched talent for persuading others—a dynamic that allows Threes to excel. This field also provides many opportunities for public speaking and presentations...and there are lots of opportunities to earn recognition for a job well done. Enneagram Type 3s will appreciate these opportunities to improve their leadership skills and receive affirmation for their excellent work.
Also, a Three’s ability to adapt to different roles makes them excellent entertainers. Threes excel on the stage, and they love to perform. Whether that’s acting in a play, playing a concert, or creating a TikTok empire, Type 3s love careers where they get to be the center of attention.
Advertising isn’t the only field that makes a good fit for Threes, though. There are lots of careers that offer the chance to compete, advance, and perform. Corporate settings, law, politics, and journalism all have the potential to offer dream jobs for an Enneagram 3. These career sectors have a few things in common: they provide many opportunities for leadership and allow people to step into the public eye. Type 3s love a high profile job! These careers also have a clearly delineated ladder for advancement that’s based on hard work and merit. This will appeal to a Three’s conviction that success should be rewarded!
With that last point in mind, Threes may find it’s best to avoid jobs that require mostly working in isolation from others. Threes thrive in a highly social work environment. And because Threes crave recognition for their work, they may want to stick to careers that have set parameters for success. For instance, freelancing or self-employment likely won’t give Threes the chance to shine in the specific ways that make them feel motivated.
Whatever career they choose, it’s important for Enneagram Type 3s to focus on more than personal advancement. Participating in their work community by helping coworkers improve and flourish will help keep Threes healthy and balanced.
Enneagram wings help shed even more light on your personality type. For example, Enneagram 3w2s are known as "The Professionals" because of their incredible focus!
Enneagram Type 3 Wings
The Enneagram concept of “wings” refers to aspects of your personality type that aren’t typically associated with your dominant type. Your “wings” are the numbers that fall on either side of your dominant Enneagram type, and it’s common for you to share some characteristics with these adjacent numbers.
For Enneagram Type 3s, their potential wings are Enneagram Type 2 and Enneagram Type 4. You’ll often see these abbreviated to 3w2 (“Enneagram 3 wing 2”) and 3w4 (“Enneagram 3 wing 4”).
We’ll explain Enneagram 3 wing 2 and Enneagram 3 wing 4 below.
Enneagram Type 3 Wing 2
Enneagram Type 3 wing 2s are Threes who share some characteristics with Enneagram Type 2s. Threes with a wing 2 are known as “the Charmer.” This is because 3w2s tend to place emphasis on charming and connecting with others as a crucial component of their pursuit of success.
While personal success is a core motivator for classic Threes, a 3w2 may tend to focus more on finding ways to use their talents to benefit their community. 3w2s may be more naturally self-confident than classic Threes, which gives them the foundation they need to build connections that allow them to achieve great things for themselves and others.
Threes with a two wing are also gifted at making others believe that they can achieve success themselves. 3w2s will often channel their charisma and excellent communication skills into motivating others to become the best version of themselves. And that’s one of the best things about Enneagram 3 wing 2: they use their talents to make life better for others.
Enneagram Type 3 Wing 4
Enneagram 3 wing 4s have some of the same personality traits as Enneagram Type 4s. The 3w4 combo is referred to as “the Professional.” When you combine a Three’s drive with a Four’s focus on internal processing, you get a person who’s poised to become an expert in whatever they put their mind to.
Fours focus their energy on inspecting their inner self. When Threes adopt this trait, they become a more self-aware version of themselves. This enhanced self-awareness enables 3w4s to compensate for their weaknesses better than a traditional Three. And minimizing flaws is important to 3w4s, who see failure as a setback in their quest for success.
Enneagram 3 wing 4s also tend to be more sensitive and artistic than classic Threes, which can make them easier to form an honest emotional connection within relationships. A 3w4 also tends to see skill and intelligence as a stronger indicator of success than classic Threes, who may place a higher value on their charisma or likability. This emphasis on introspection, skill, and intelligence works to a 3w4’s advantage, since it lays the groundwork for producing positive results!
We have in-depth explainers for all the different Enneagram types on our blog! Threes tend to have a lot in common with Enneagram Type 1s and Enneagram Type 7s. Why not start your research there!
Interested in learning more about what makes you tick? Then you might want to explore the different learning styles and which is your dominant learning modality.
If you love the Enneagram, then you’re probably pretty interested in what makes people tick. Why not consider a career in psychology? We have resources that can teach you more about how to become a therapist or psychiatrist, too.
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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.