Enneagram Type 3 - The Achiever
Focused on the presentation of success, to attain validation
People of this personality type need to be validated in order to feel worthy; they pursue success and want to be admired. They are frequently hard working, competitive and are highly focused in the pursuit of their goals, whether their goal is to be the most successful salesman in the company or the "sexiest" woman in their social circle. They are often "self-made" and usually find some area in which they can excel and thus find the external approbation which they so desperately need. Threes are socially competent, often extroverted, and sometimes charismatic. They know how to present themselves, are self-confident, practical, and driven. Threes have a lot of energy and often seem to embody a kind of zest for life that others find contagious. They are good networkers who know how to rise through the ranks. But, while Threes do tend to succeed in whatever realm they focus their energies, they are often secretly afraid of being or becoming "losers."
Threes can sometimes find intimacy difficult. Their need to be validated for their image often hides a deep sense of shame about who they really are, a shame they unconsciously fear will be unmasked if another gets too close. Threes are often generous and likable, but are difficult to really know. When unhealthy, their narcissism takes an ugly turn and they can become cold blooded and ruthless in the pursuit of their goals.
Because it is central to the type Three fixation to require external validation, Threes often, consciously and unconsciously, attempt to embody the image of success that is promoted by their culture. Threes get in trouble when they confuse true happiness, which depends on inner states, with the image of happiness which society has promoted. If a Three has a "good" job and an "attractive" mate, she might be willing, through an act of self-deception which is also self-betrayal, to ignore the inner promptings which tell her that neither her job, nor her mate are fulfilling her deeper needs. Even the most "successful" Threes, who generally appear quite happy, often hide a deeply felt sense of meaninglessness. The attainment of the image never quite satisfies.
Threes can sometimes mistype themselves when they mistake the more superficial features of their personalities as indicators of their type. So, for instance, an intellectual Three might mistype as a Five; a Three who is devoted to her role as mother might think she is a Two; a Three in a leadership position might mistype as an Eight and so on. Regardless of the manifestation however, the core of the type Three fixation is the deep need for external validation.