Type 3: Embrace Your Inner Underachiever

To say that 3s want to succeed is like saying that penguins kinda sorta might like to get to their breeding grounds if it’s not too much trouble (see March of the Penguins).  3s are not only determined to succeed in all areas of their lives, they are also driven to avoid both the experience and the appearance of failing. Because 3s are the type most caught up in the issue of image–constantly trying to project an image both internally (to themselves) and externally (to everyone else)–experience and appearance become somewhat undifferentiated.

Wanting to achieve great things, being highly motivated, and working extra hard in order to succeed are all admirable qualities. No one wants to belong to the losers’ club. But too much single-minded devotion to the pursuit of achievement can easily become too much of a good thing.

By constantly measuring the value of their lives according to a pass/fail grading system, 3s risk missing out on so much that is not measurable by that yardstick. By screening out evidence of perceived failure–the thing they are most afraid of admitting–they risk denying their own experience. By attempting to mold themselves into a laudable persona according to other people’s definitions, they risk losing themselves to themselves. By always striving to achieve more and more on the success treadmill, they risk remaining forever unsatisfied and restless.

If 3s learn to embrace their Inner Underachiever and let go of the need to rise to the top in everything they do, they might be able to open themselves up to a totally different kind of success. They might be able to graciously sit one out now and then and let someone else get the win. They might be able to let down their guard, relax, and do something just for fun. They might find out that losing once in a while (or at least not always winning) makes it easier for people to relate to them. They might succeed in finding out who they really are.


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