Let’s welcome Michele Morin today. I love gleaning wisdom from Michele and her post about being an Enneagram Three – The Achiever is no exception. For any fellow threes out there, do you see yourself in these words? If you are still discovering your number, does any of this resonate with you?
Oblivious to the hum of classroom activity, I turned page after page as silent reading time flew by. In the fifth grade, I was riveted to the story arc of Helen Keller’s life. Only just barely old enough to fathom the complexity of getting an education without sight or hearing, my laser focus had found a heroine in this woman who overcame adversity to graduate at the top of her class and then go on to college.
“I want to do that,” I thought to myself.
So I did.
And that goal-setting, accomplishment-oriented part of me still wakes up every single morning with a plan in place.
The Challenges and Joys of Enneagram Three
Enneagram Threes are the achievers, the performers, the image-conscious do-ers who are driven and defined by our lists and our need to appear successful. “Threes are shape shifters who can switch personas to match the environment,” say Cron and Stabile. On my first reading of the characteristics of all nine Enneagram types, my initial response to each was, “Yes, I am that way… sometimes.” In unhealthy space, this can lead to the behavior of a social chameleon, inauthentic and empty. Healthy Threes, though, employ this sensitivity to understand and to advance the goals and pursuits of others.
Threes feel right at home here in the good old USA with our hurry-up culture, focused on accomplishment and a very particular definition of success. Three-energy actually allows us to keep up with the headlong rush. High energy can be a great asset, and while it’s good to be able to read a room and respond to the feelings and personalities present, the challenge for Threes comes in maintaining spiritual health that holds us within our authentic selves, owning our weaknesses, and not allowing ourselves to become cardboard cutouts of our imagined strengths.
Parenting as an Enneagram Three
I have done a fair amount of work to curb the Three-drive in an effort to be fully present to relationships and to practice patient attention to my amazing sons. Even so, the temptation to choose projects over people is present every single day. If you sit down to play Lego with your child, but are really picking up and organizing the pieces, you just might be a Three.
When my children were young, I quickly realized that the force-field of focused attention that allowed me to multi-task was not only unwise—it was unsafe! However, Threes bring the gift of wholeheartedness to their families. Just as we see all the wonderful things we could accomplish in a day, we love our families and friends by seeing their potential. We want to teach and lead them to success. That commitment to efficiency and effectiveness may feel like pushy-ness (and in an unhealthy Three, it most definitely will be), but our “let’s do it” mentality makes us very effective cheerleaders.
What Threes Wish Everyone Knew
One of the reasons Threes derive our value from what we do, is that it’s often true: we are loved for what we can do! Please discover who we are and love us for that as well. Relationships matter to us, and while it’s exhausting to be valued for what we can accomplish, we don’t believe you will love us simply for “being.”
Threes curate our stories to put a positive spin on life. What sounds like a glowing resume, may actually be a sign that things aren’t going as well as we’d like you to believe.
Threes are not immune to our own feelings, but we are able to disconnect from them in order to stay focused on the task at hand. Cron and Stabile call this the “Feelings to Deal with Later File.” In order to stay healthy, we may need to be pushed to stop and take inventory of that backlog now and then.
Important Spiritual Disciplines for Enneagram Three Development
- Silence, Solitude, Scripture, and Sabbath
Time alone, quiet pondering, and soaking in the truth of God’s Word does nothing for one’s resume or do-list (and it’s important for everyone), but Threes have a special need to step back and simply “be” in the presence of the God who loves us. We may not feel as if we need to rest, but the penalty for not resting is high. The wisdom of Eugene Peterson speaks directly to Three energy: “If you don’t take a Sabbath, something is wrong. You’re doing too much, you’re being too much in charge. You’ve got to quit, one day a week, and just watch what God is doing when you’re not doing anything.”
- An authentic friendship with at least one person
If a friend already know the worst, and the relationship has withstood the knowing, that friend becomes a safe harbor with no expectation of success or image management.
- Leaving work undone (Sometimes)
Leave the office at 2:00 p.m. Leave dishes in the sink. Stop writing the first time someone interrupts you with a need or a potential conversation. Look up from your book. Put down the pen. Find the speaker’s eyes and focus there.
- Experiencing Failure
Suzanne Stabile has said that without the experience of some significant failure, Threes will never fully come into healthy space, learn their need of other people, and lean into their need for God. Richard Rohr refers to this as “falling upward.”
- Reading the Old Testament prophets
Jeremiah spoke God’s exact words to the people of Israel for twenty-three years–with no observable success. Isaiah puts words around the “thirst” that keeps unhealthy Threes in constant pursuit of “what does not satisfy.” Zephaniah closes his prophecy with the comfort of God’s delight in His children.Safe in the knowledge of God’s love and acceptance, Enneagram Threes are a formidable force in the Kingdom of God. Join us on the blog as @MicheleDMorin shares her experience as an Enneagram Three. #newpost #EnneaWhat #TellHisStory Click To Tweet
Safe in the knowledge of God’s love and acceptance, Enneagram Threes are a formidable force in the Kingdom of God. The worst part of us can also become the best part of us as we grow into gospel truth that, yes, indeed, it is true: we have not done enough.
And we never will.
But we are more than the sum of our successes.
We are loved by the God who made us and who knows the person behind the image, the heart behind the goals, and who gave his life to communicate the healing message that we are ever so much more than what we do.
Thank you for joining Michele and the Tell HIs Story community for the Enneagram Series. If you like what you read, feel free to share. Come back next week for Daniel and Nicholas Geisen as they share about the Enneagram Four.
Michele Morin is a teacher, reader, writer, and gardener who does life with her family on a country hill in Maine. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, and three adorable grandchildren. Michele is active in educational ministries with her local church and delights in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. Connect by following her blog at Living Our Days, or via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
The Road Back to You—Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile
Mirror for the Soul—Alice Fryling
The Enneagram Journey podcast
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