Type 3: Achiever/Motivator


Achievers/Motivators are typically energetic, optimistic, self-assured and goal-oriented. Gifted at focusing on goals and achieving them, the Achiever 3 personality personifies the “human doing” rather than human being. This person is highly productive, efficient and can be extremely motivating to others. They want to be the best in any situation and can be overly concerned about the opinions of others.
They have an innate ability to motivate others. This type is a very action-oriented, often successful person who naturally presents a positive image to the outside world. Gaining the admiration of others is important to them, and they put a lot of energy into the achievement of their goals. Achiever 3s typically align around “roles” (predefined ways of being) and focus on being successful in that role. In this way, Achiever 3s can sometimes confuse themselves for other types. However, they usually recognize their Achiever 3 identity when they uncover that their primary motivation is to be “the best.” A classic example is a nun who looks like a Helper 2 but who eventually realizes she actually wants to be recognized as the best nun more than she wants to helpful.


Attention bias

The magnifying glass goes towards being successful in the eyes of other people. They see what brings success and approval from others. Their attention moves away from anything that could be recognized as failure, particularly in the eyes of others.


Achiever 3 Gifts to the World

Achiever 3s are gifted leaders and motivators. Highly inspirational and often charismatic, they can naturally organize and energize groups. Goal-oriented and highly effective, they can successfully achieve their targets. The supreme motivators of the Enneagram, Achiever 3s help others reach their full potential.

Achiever 3s Typically Report

1) A Desire to be the Best in Every Situation
Achiever 3’s attention goes to success and a desire to be recognized as the best in almost all situations. They generally don’t like doing things they aren’t good at, and they are typically competitive, even in environments where it doesn’t make sense.
“I knew I was an Achiever 3 when I attended a neighbor’s party. I’m a white guy living in a largely Hispanic neighborhood, and this was a Mexican party. I walked in the door, and my mind immediately went to how I could be the best Mexican at this party. And I’m a white guy—I’m not going to win that contest. But it was in my mind…”


2) Packaging Up Inconvenient Feelings and Emotions and Putting Them Aside to Deal with Later
Achiever 3s are efficiency machines and very action-oriented. They often report impatience with others who are slowing down their achievement. In the same manner, emotions can slow them down. They often suppress their emotions as they see them as weaknesses. Achiever 3s may report going through very emotionally difficult times but freezing the emotions out and “putting them in a box to deal with later.” To the rest of the world this can look cold or shut down, but for an Achiever 3, it is a coping mechanism to allow them to continue on their achievement quest.


“It’s not my favorite thing about myself, but it is true. If something becomes too intense, I just shut down around it—put the feelings in a box, and we’ll deal with that later…”


3) Public Admiration and Praise is Important to Them
While not all Achiever 3s readily admit it, most will privately say that public admiration and praise is quite important to them. Their main motivator is popular acceptance and recognition. Achiever 3s feel their identity from the outside in, so having a strong internal compass free from external influence is difficult for them.


“I use public praise as a marker for how I’m doing. Without external approval, I really don’t know….”


Hear directly from Type 3s about shape-shifting the truth. This was part of a Type 3 workshop featuring the Narrative Tradition (a panel of Type 3s discussing their experience as a Type 3).

Tools for Compassion If You Have Achiever 3s in Your Life


1) Tell them what you like about their character and don’t focus on their achievements
Achiever 3s over-identify with their achievements and activities and under-identify with their character and emotional makeup. Telling them what you like about their behavior and character can be very eye-opening and healing for them.


2) Give them honest but not overly critical feedback
No one likes criticism, but Achiever 3s almost can’t bear to hear it. If you have negative feedback to give to an Achiever 3, make sure to deliver it in a balanced, constructive way. This is a type who does learn from criticism, but too much negative criticism will be blocked completely.


3) Be aware they don’t like to dwell in negative emotions or situations where they might fail
Achiever 3s like to focus on their successes and on positive emotions. They gravitate away from areas in which they are likely to feel negative emotions and towards areas in which they’ll get positive feedback. Achiever 3s sometimes avoid or drop relationships entirely if the situation becomes too negative or difficult.



This page is excerpted from Headstart from Happiness and The Nine Keys by Lynn Roulo.