Category Archives: Type 3

Don’t Go Back to Sleep

Mindfulness meditation music for the Feeling center (for everyone).

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

–Jalal al-Din Rumi

In the Shadow of Type 3: Failure


Failure Freeway (Photo credit: StormKatt)

3s see themselves—and definitely want you to see them—as self-assured, industrious, ambitious, purposeful, high-achieving, decisive, focused, dynamic, hard-working, energetic, and of course, successful. 3s are goal-oriented, to put it mildly, as well as possibly the people who invented multi-tasking. After all, if you can get two or three things done at the same time, why settle for doing just one thing.

Since 3s also tend to be well-organized and great at motivating people to rise to the occasion, they are good leaders and managers who can complete complex projects. They are highly competitive and always go for the win. Most people find winning desirable and prefer it to losing, but for 3s winning is essential. Their sense of self-worth is based on their ability to succeed, achieve, and be the best at what they do. Depending on the circumstances and your relationship to the 3 in question, you may admire this aspect of 3s or despise it.


“Winner” is a role 3s play. They may get to be so good at playing the role they lose themselves in it. When that happens, it won’t matter how successful they are or how much they have achieved because they will have lost touch with who they are—and possibly with the people they most want and need to be connected with.

Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.

–Wilma Rudolph


Jerome Wagner says, in The Enneagram Spectrum of Personality Styles, that the defense mechanism for 3s is identification:

To keep failure out of your awareness, you identify with whatever successful mask or role you are playing at the time. You identify with your role instead of with yourself.

The drive to succeed at whatever they do often leads 3s to reframe situations in which they failed at something so that they somehow still come out as winning. People tend to misunderstand the ambition of 3s and view it through a glass darkly. 3s have been described as arrogant and superficial, but they can also be extremely charming. They seek attention and the positive regard of other people at least as much as 2s do. They believe that as long as they are successful others will think highly of them. Therefore, if they feel that positive regard slipping, they may shift into overdrive to increase their level of achievement. This is a vicious cycle that does not end well for 3s.


In The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Riso and Hudson suggest 3s involve themselves in a creative pursuit:

Threes really benefit from creativity, especially when the creativity is for themselves and not an audience of some kind. Painting, making pottery, playing music, writing or drawing, and journaling can help you get in touch with your feelings and bring you into greater alignment with yourself. You may even want to create a sacred space in your home that is devoted solely to your creativity and self-discovery. No work-related tasks are allowed here! It is your refuge from the demands in your life, especially the demands you make on yourself.

I like this idea because it doesn’t ask 3s to stop doing, but to focus their doing in a different direction. Spending time alone doing something without a win-lose outcome is a good practice. It could give 3s an opportunity to get in touch with who they are when they’re not performing in some way. It can also provide them with a chance to “fail” by pursuing an activity they may not be skilled at purely for enjoyment. There’s freedom in having nothing on the line and no audience to evaluate the results of their creative endeavors.

By doing something by and for themselves, they may find it easier to be themselves.

New Year’s Counter-Resolutions

Illustration Friday - Resolution

Resolution (Photo credit: The hills are alive)

Sometimes it’s best to be LESS than we can be, especially when it comes to the all-too-entrenched compulsions of our personality.

So here are some resolutions for the new year that run counter to our natural inclinations. If your past resolutions have worked as well as mine, you might be up for giving one or two of these a try.

Type 1:

  • Create a schedule for goofing off.
  • Make at least one mistake per day.
  • Let sleeping dogs lie.

Type 2:

  • Pamper myself, whether I feel like it or not.
  • Let them figure it out by themselves once in a while.
  • Start an argument just for the heck of it.

Type 3:

  • Make an anonymous charitable donation (and don’t tell anyone about it).
  • Leave the house without combing my hair.
  • Start having goal-less Wednesdays.

Type 4:

  • Lighten up!
  • Try doing one thing a week the way everyone else does it.
  • Take something at face value instead of searching for its deeper meaning.

Type 5:

  • Set up a meet and greet with the neighbors.
  • Next time, don’t read the instructions first.
  • At least once a month, throw something out.

Type 6:

  • Do whatever they least expect me to do.
  • Take a day off in the middle of the week for no reason.
  • Lower shields.

Type 7:

  • Just say “no.”
  • Finish one thing before starting something else.
  • Spend some quiet time alone without distractions.

Type 8:

  • Leave the office at quitting time—or before.
  • Find lower gear and occasionally shift into it.
  • Let the right one in.

Type 9:

  • Do whatever I feel like doing no matter how much chaos ensues as a result.
  • Give up being passive-aggressive for being outright aggressive.
  • Create a longer to-do list.

Happy New Year!

~ ~ ~

NOTE: As of January 2013, new Nine Paths posts will be published every Monday and Friday instead of every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Make It So!

A derivative collage from two other files - ca...

Captain Jean Luc Picard on board the Enterprise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jean Luc Picard was the captain of the Enterprise. So his directive to “make it so” was aimed at the people under his command in order to further some aspect of the starship’s current mission.

Each of us is on a mission, too, though probably not an interstellar one. And we give ourselves directives to keep focused on our particular mission.

Self Directives by Type

Type 1: Watch Yourself!

Type 2: Ignore Yourself!

Type 3: Distinguish Yourself!

Type 4: Be Yourself!

Type 5: Prepare Yourself!

Type 6: Brace Yourself!

Type 7: Enjoy Yourself!

Type 8: Push Yourself!

Type 9: Hide Yourself!

The Type 3 Culture of est? (Part 3)

In which I finally (sort of) get to the point—or at least a point.

Werner Erhard

Werner Erhard

During my two years of participation in est, I took all of the seminars, some more than once, and many workshops. I also took the later incarnation of the training called the Forum. For 12 months, I was team leader of trainer support for the Berkeley/Oakland Area Center, which meant I enrolled trainer support supervisors for all trainings and workshops and made sure they enrolled teams. Sometimes I ran trainer support for a training or workshop myself.  For six months, I was team leader for seminar logistics (although I had never assisted on a logistics team). As team leader, I enrolled logistics supervisors for all the 10-week seminars, made sure they enrolled teams, and visited each seminar at least once to make sure everything was running smoothly. I also assisted for several months in the office of the San Francisco Area Center.

I thought about going through the guest seminar leader program, but decided against it. While I was still considering it, I was encouraged to spiff up my presentation. Although I had plenty of nicely tailored business suits, I didn’t have a particular style. As an 8, I’ve always been more interested comfort than style. But I was willing to look into it—and it was the 80s—so I followed the suggestion of a couple of my peers and hired a wardrobe consultant. Her name was Rivka, and she wanted me to get my colors done. [There was a book called Color Me Beautiful that was popular at the time. It helped you decide whether you were a spring, summer, winter, or autumn and then gave you a suitable palette of colors for your wardrobe.] I refused to do that, though, which disappointed Rivka. But she said she thought I was an “autumn,” and we went shopping from there: new make-up; new shoes; new clothes—all in colors I would never have thought of for myself. Turned out I am an autumn. In terms of physical presentation, I was transformed.

The Motivator?

It’s hard to escape making a connection between the 3’s preoccupation with having a successful image and the est preoccupation with personal presentation. In Personality Types, Riso and Hudson say:

The United States is fast becoming a dysfunctional “Three” culture: driven, narcissistic, image-oriented, emphasizing style over substance, symbols over reality.

I never felt that est emphasized style over substance or symbols over reality, though. As far as being driven, Werner said:

Your power is a function of velocity, that is to say, your power is a function of the rate at which you translate intention into reality. Most of us disempower ourselves by finding a way to slow, impede, or make more complex than necessary the process of translating intention into reality.

It’s part of my nature as an 8 to be driven, so those words were fuel for me. That’s one of the few quotes I typed up (pre-personal computer) and still have.

3s are called the Motivator, the Achiever, the Succeeder, the Performer, and the Status-Seeker. I could see applying all those names to Werner. He is a very persuasive guy, and many aspects of type 3 fit him. But having said all that, I’m not fully convinced he is a 3.

Or the Maverick?

Here’s how Riso and Hudson describe the healthy version of the 8w7 subtype in The Wisdom of the Enneagram:

Having a quick mind combined with a vision for practical possibilities, people of this subtype are often charismatic and able to attract the support of others to join them in their vision. They are action-oriented, and want to have an impact on their world. They are also good at challenging others to stretch their abilities and to surpass their own expectations so that their lives can be better in some practical way. This is the most independent subtype, often entrepreneurial and interested in creating projects that will ensure their independence.

Based on my experience of him, that description fits Werner perfectly.

Parting Ways

I stopped participating in est after two years because I realized that it was too easy for me. The assisting program, especially, was the perfect place for me to excel at what I was already good at doing. I didn’t have to stretch myself at all. My partner, on the other hand, had a much harder time with assisting, but he ultimately got more out of it than I did. After learning about the Enneagram, I understood that est was Doing-oriented, just like I am, with an emphasis on getting the job done, whatever the job was.

In life you wind up with one of two things – the results or the reason why you don’t have the results. Results don’t have to be explained. They just are.

When we were assisting, we put our personal feelings on the back burner. Feelings were allowed and dealt with in the training, of course, which was a very emotional experience for some people. But although I recall very little specific detail from my own training, I do remember Werner standing on the stage with a box of tissue, pulling them out one-by-one, waving them to the side, and then letting each one flutter to the floor. “Here’s a feeling. Here’s a feeling. Here’s another feeling.” The point was that feelings are fleeting. They come; they go. Don’t get attached to them. I may have interpreted that to mean they could be easily dismissed.

When I decided to get certified as an Enneagram instructor, I chose the training offered by Kathy Hurley and Ted Donson because they seemed to include more of the Feeling Center in their work. That’s the Center I access least effectively, and I realized I needed to stretch myself.

Of course, I went through—and saw—the est training through my own particular filter. The process of the training was not a pleasant experience for me. But the doing involved in assisting was my metier. When I decided to stop participating, my point of view of est—and of assisting—was still colored by the filter through which I viewed the world. I wonder what my experience would have been if I’d been aware of the Enneagram while I was actively involved in est. I’m pretty sure there was a lot more I could have gotten out of it if I hadn’t been so darned good at that particular piece of it.

est and the Enneagram

There are a lot of similarities between est and the Enneagram. Werner talked about the filters through which we look at the world and which distort reality. The Enneagram describes the particularities of those filters. Werner was all about authenticity and authentic self-expression. The Enneagram is a tool to help us move beyond the compulsion of type to experience our true nature, or essence. In the training you get, beyond any doubt, that you are a machine. With the Enneagram you get that you function on autopilot almost 100% of the time.

Making a Difference

These concepts are not unique to either est or the Enneagram, of course. They’re just different approaches to what seem to be universal truths. est focused on making commitments, showing up, and producing a result (doing). The Enneagram is a more intellectual, systematized approach.

What I’m left with from est—what has stayed with me all this time—is this:

You and I want our lives to matter. We want our lives to make a real difference—to be of genuine consequence in the world. We know that there is no satisfaction in merely going through the motions, even if those motions make us successful or even if we have arranged to make those motions pleasant. We want to know we have had some impact on the world. In fact, you and I want to contribute to the quality of life. We want to make the world work.

The Type 3 Culture of est (Part 1)

In which the universe hoodwinks me into being trained by Werner Erhard himself.

English: Face portion of a casual photo at a m...

Werner Erhard. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I took est (officially Erhard Seminars Training, but known to us graduates simply as “the training”) in the early 80s. I’m surprised I didn’t encounter it much earlier, since I moved to San Francisco in 1974 in an experimental frame of mind and San Francisco was home base for est. I bumped into the Scientology crew downtown one night and signed up for their beginners’ class just to find out what it was all about. I enjoyed the class, but that organization had so many layers of bureaucracy, it made the IRS look streamlined. I also spent some time at one of the Synanon enclaves in the East Bay, since the first friend I made in the City was an ex-junkie. (Synanon was an alternative drug rehab community founded by Chuck Dederich, a former alcoholic.) But I don’t recall ever running into anyone around that time who was involved in est.

A friend in Michigan had taken the training, however, and would not shut up about how amazing it was and how I should take it, too. I was tired of hearing about it, so on one of my visits, I agreed to go with him to a guest seminar if he agreed that regardless of whether I decided to take the training or not he would stop talking to me about it. We had a two-hour drive to Detroit where the seminar was being held. On the way, I had to listen to a series of cassette tapes of talks given by Werner Erhard. I hated the sound of Werner’s voice so much that my mind was made up: there was no way I was going to take the training.

As it turned out, the man who led the guest seminar (Les?) had a very low key and matter-of-fact demeanor. He was the anti-Werner Erhard, if you will. What he said made sense and sounded like something I could benefit from. Est was supposed to “transform one’s ability to experience living so that the situations one had been trying to change or had been putting up with clear up just in the process of life itself.” Sign me up. But wait a sec. It turned out that although Werner had not been involved in leading trainings for a while, rumor had it he was going to lead the next scheduled training in San Francisco. So no, do not sign me up for that one. What else do you have? The next available training in my neck of the woods was in the East Bay.


So, yes, I enrolled in a training in Berkeley, which involved a considerably longer commute, just so I could avoid Werner Erhard—the founder of the training I was enrolling in. Absurd as they were, my efforts turned out to be for naught.

The est training consisted of two weekends (all day Saturday and all day Sunday) and three Wednesday evening sessions in between the two weekends. The Wednesday evening before the first training weekend, my partner and I, along with a couple hundred other trainees, trooped into the ballroom where the training would be held. I glanced at the staff in the back of the room, and although I had never seen a picture of the man, I said to my partner—and these were my exact words— “Fuck. That’s Werner.” Which it was.

I got over my resistance to Werner. The man is very charming and disarming, as well as relentless. He’s generally typed as a 3, which seems right on. Although I hated the training itself, that didn’t have anything to do with Werner (other than the fact that he created it). What I didn’t like was having to sit in a chair hour after hour listening to other people talk. You could say I resisted that. And I resisted being confronted with my own stuff, which you’re pretty much forced to confront while you’re sitting in a chair hour after hour unable to escape or even converse with the person seated next to you.

It’s true that you were not allowed to go to the restroom except during the very infrequent official breaks. On the first day of the training, I got into a conversation with someone during the first break and failed to make use of the restroom before we were ushered back into the training room. Five hours till the next opportunity. Herb Caen, who was a long-time columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, once included an anecdote about a woman who asked a clerk in a downtown San Francisco department store to direct her to the ladies room. The clerk said there were no restrooms on the premises. The customer asked what the clerk did when she needed to use the restroom. The clerk said, “I took est. I don’t have to use the restroom.” My friends today will tell you that I can go longer than anyone else they know without needing to stop for a bathroom break. That has been so valuable I think it was worth the price of the training.

But that’s not all I got.

Next time: Part 2, in which I am apparently recognized as an 8, even though none of us has heard of the Enneagram yet.

Type 3 Frog

Eighth in the series of type comics. The others can be found here: Type 1, Type 2, Type 4, Type 5, Type 7, Type 8, and Type 9.

Gender Stereotyping Strikes Again

avid reader

avid reader (Photo credit: sekihan)

The New Yorker ran an article by Joan Acocella on 10/15/12 titled “Turning the Page: How women became readers,” in which she reviews “The Woman Reader,” by Belinda Jack. (See link below.)

I’ve been reading for enjoyment, information, and edification ever since I learned how to translate letters into words and words into meaning; it’s something I’ve always take for granted.

But for centuries women were widely forbidden to read. Thank Gutenberg for making books so easy to get that men gave up trying to keep women away from them. But there were still a few obstacles remaining before women gained free access to books. One of them was the 19th Century belief that women were prone to hysteria as a result of their “strong emotions.”

One London doctor wrote that female patients might be allowed fiction but should be carefully watched. If a novel seemed to worsen a woman’s condition, it should be taken away and replaced by “a book upon some practical subject; such, for instance, as beekeeping.”

However, the 19th Century is also when novels became hugely popular–and some of them were even written by women!

All well and good (and I highly recommend the article), but what does any of this have to do with the Enneagram? One paragraph in Acocella’s piece describes a 2004 study of 800 educated British adolescents, who were “asked to name their ‘watershed books,’ books that sustained them ‘through key moments of transition or crisis in their lives.'”

The results of the study purport to reveal how boys’ and girls’ reading choices differ in “stereotypical ways.”

The boys chose The Stranger, One Hundred Years of Solitudeand The Catcher in the Rye. The girls chose Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and Anna Karenina. (Acocella adds: “lest anyone doubt that women prefer tales of love and marriage.”)

Really? Really?

I don’t prefer tales of love and marriage. I’ve read all of those books, and I’m firmly in the boys’ camp as far as which ones had more of an influence on me. In fact One Hundred Years of Solitude is my favorite novel of all time.

Admittedly Enneagram type 3 or 8 women and Myers-Briggs type ENTJ women do not constitute the majority of women. But we do exist. And we do not conform to the stereotypes the psychologists and scientists and–now–writers keep trying to shove down our throats. The same goes for Enneagram type 2 or 4 men, who also exist and who also do not conform to gender stereotype.

Individual temperament–meaning personality type–is usually a more accurate indicator of a person’s habits and proclivities than whether that person is male or female. But gender stereotyping is easy. Understanding temperament is quite a bit more complex.

What book or books influenced you as a young reader?

Songs for the Road (the list)

If you’re travelin’, you need a road song, and everyone loves a good road song, right? But not everyone likes the same song or moves to the same beat. So here’s my list of road songs by type:

Type 1: The Higher You Climb (Dan Fogelberg)

You get a little bonus hit of Down the Road as an intro.

Type 2: I’ll Take you There (Staple Singers)

Type 3: I Can Walk on Water (Basshunter)

Type 4: Runnin’ Down a Dream (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)

Type 5: Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Green Day)

Type 6: Road to Nowhere (Talking Heads)

Type 7: I’ll Follow the Sun (the Beatles)

Type 8: I Can’t Drive 55 (Sammy Hagar)

Type 9: Every Day Is a Winding Road (Sheryl Crow)

Twisted Affirmations (Enneagram Humor)

English: Halloween in Bonaire.


A student in a group I facilitated years ago (not the group pictured above) brought in a list of “twisted affirmations” she’d come across. As she read them aloud, we realized how easily they could be categorized by Enneagram type. So that’s what we did. There were many more affirmations than the nine below, but some types got off pretty easy while others seemed to come out far more “twisted.” So to keep it fair (I’m an 8, after all), I’ve chosen what seems to be the most representative twist for each type. I would love to credit the author, but I have no idea who he/she is.

Type 1
I am grateful that I am not as judgmental as all those censorious, self-righteous people around me.

Type 2
As I learn the innermost secrets of the people around me, they reward me in many ways to keep quiet.

Type 3
To have a successful relationship, I must learn to make it look like I’m giving as much as I’m getting.

Type 4
I can change any thought that hurts into a reality that hurts even more.

Type 5
I have the power to channel my imagination into ever-soaring levels of suspicion and paranoia.

Type 6
Only a lack of imagination saves me from immobilizing myself with imaginary fears.

Type 7
I am willing to make the mistakes if someone else is willing to learn from them.

Type 8
When someone hurts me, forgiveness is cheaper than a lawsuit, but not nearly as gratifying.

Type 9
False hope is nicer than no hope at all.

~ ~ ~

Sometimes you just need to be able to laugh at yourself.