Enneagram - Attaboy!

I'm continuing my discussion of how I was introduced to the Enneagram.

As I mentioned in the previous post, when I took a trip around the Enneagram I was immediately able to find my number. The online RHETI test only confirmed my findings. Then when I attended the "Know Your Number" conference I felt like a bug under the burning rays of a magnifying glass as I identified my personality.

If you are familiar with the Enneagram and if you are familiar with me, you might have guessed by now, but I land on the Enneagram as a solid THREE. THREE's are often named "The Performer" or "The Achiever" which comes from their belief that they find their acceptance by what they accomplish. I find it extremely funny that you are reading this in my blog where I publish who I am, what I think and what I've done. That's really funny. Blogs were created for self-promotion.

THREE's are goal-oriented and more importantly goal-accomplishing people. THREE's are great at networking and connecting, especially if it helps them succeed at accomplishing the goals they have made for themselves. My annual goal sheet is ridiculous and I'm often ashamed to show it to other people, but at the same time: I get stuff done.

I've heard it said about THREES that they need endless successes and feedback to reassure themselves against a very honest and realistic insecurity they live with. They are competitive and recognize loss as failure, but even in their loss they will repackage the failure as merely a "learning experience" to ease their conscience. I could go on and on, but let me stop here and say: I don't want to be a THREE, but I can't escape it. Every descriptor of a THREE as an achiever, performer, chameleon, flirt, manipulator, social engineer, hit me right between the eyes. Even though I hate it,  I cannot escape it.

Maybe you don't like your number either. In an effort to encourage you on your own journey, I am going to share some interesting insights I've learned about myself. Remember, I'm a THREE, I promise I'll only share the positive things! I'll begin today with what I learned about fears and how they function in my life and then over the next few days I'll share what I learned about goals and feelings.


The quote included in this photo of my dad is something I have heard over the course of my adult life. I might have even mentioned it about eight years ago here on theMangoTimes. Yes, I know that this funny little quip is always said in jest, but the idea behind this quote is fairly accurate in the life of a THREE. Success matters, winning matters, but more importantly: Recognition Matters. Whether I like it or not and if I'm being honest, recognition for what I accomplish is half of the fuel behind my actions. 

The other half of my fuel comes from the fear I associate with failure. So, not only do I want to accomplish things, but I am equally driven by a fear of being seen as a failure. Here's the truth: I don't fail regularly, but I do fail.  To be clear, when I fail it stings like it does for everyone else, but worse for me is being seen as a failure. I don't want you to see me fail. It is like two sides of a wicked coin constantly spinning in the air. 

Do you see now how the "Attaboy" quote hits home for a THREE on the Enneagram? The only problem is that the ratio communicated in this quote is not quite accurate enough for my taste. For me it is more like this: "One "Aw Shit" wipes out 20 "Attaboys!"

Let me share a concrete example of this: I've had a recurring nightmare for the past 25 years. Every week or so, I wake up in the same cold sweat. I'm sure some of you are familiar with the dream. It's always the same. In my dream, I am one week from college graduation or final exams and I realize that I forgot to show up to one of my classes all semester. In my dream, I immediately remember the class. I remember signing up for the class and I even remember going to the class for the first week of lectures. But then somehow, I stopped showing up all semester but I also forgot to drop the class. So, on top of all my responsibilities, I now have to prepare for a final exam. The nightmare involves this class being required for graduation. As if that's not enough, it's also always a higher math or science that I cannot bullshit my way through. I always wake up not knowing the outcome.

I was listening to Jeff Goins being interviewed on the Typology podcast. Jeff also identifies as a THREE and guess what we share? That's right. We both have the same nightmare. It's a nightmare based on the fear of failure. It's always about letting someone down and typically it points to a primary caretaker.

We all live in fear. The Enneagram helped me focus and recognize the stem of my fear and how to face it head on. Over the next few days I'll share what the Enneagram has taught me about goals and emotions.

Quietly making noise,