Each Enneagram type brings a distinct creative contribution to problem solving and teamwork. Here we examine the creative style of Enneagram Type 3.

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. –Thomas A. Edison


As Thomas Edison so eloquently put, the creative process requires both inspiration and action.  Enneagram Type 3 accesses these two dynamics readily along the Enneagram’s Paths of Integration and Disintegration.  Under stress, Type 3 receives inspiration along the path of disintegration (towards Type 9 dynamics) and becomes most productive along the path of integration (towards Type 6 dynamics.)

Creativity Seesaw

Alternating motion along the paths of integration and disintegration serve as an engine for each Enneagram type’s creativity.   Chapter 5 in my book Teamwork 9.0—Successful Workgroup Problem Solving Using the Enneagram describes the creativity gifts of each Enneagram type. The seesaw is an apt metaphor for the alternating motion between inspiration and action during the creative process. The underlying motivation of each Enneagram type serves as the creative drive and is represented by the seesaw’s fulcrum. Like the height of the fulcrum, the higher a person’s motivation the more variation they are likely to experience when oscillating between their paths of integration and disintegration, between inspiration and action. For Type 3, the underlying motivation is recognition for successes.

Enneagram Type 3 Motivation:  Recognition for Successes

Enneagram Type 3 is always on the alert for ideas that further their success.  They often rely on the opinions of others to determine what distinguishes a “good” idea from a “bad” idea.  This dynamic can be represented by the motion of Type 3 in stress along the path of disintegration towards the dynamics of Type 9.  Type 9 is the type that best represents taking into account the perspectives and opinions of others. In this state, the 3 can distill their multitude of ideas down to those that are most worthy of accolades from others.

Enneagram Type 3 Inspiration:  Seeking to Appease Others

Enneagram Type 3 Action: Systematically Achieving Goals

In possession of a winning idea, the 3 gets to action. Type 3s are some of the hardest working of all types, just ask my wife whose mother is a Type 3.  Both she and her sister are continually amazed and often exasperated by the boundless energy of their 80-year-old mother!  Type 3s take a very systematic approach to accomplishing tasks, resembling the dynamic of Type 6 which lies on Type 3’s path of integration.  In this state, Type 3’s work tirelessly towards realizing their goal.

If you’re not doing some things that are crazy, then you’re doing the wrong things. –Larry Page

Failure is Not an Option

For Type 3, winning is imperative and failure is not an option.  If there is ever any doubt about realizing their objective, the 3 falls back into the state of stress towards Type 9 dynamics and again seeks inspiration for how to avoid failure.  Back and forth the Type 3 goes between inspiration and action on the Creativity Seesaw.

How do the Enneagram Type 3s in your life seek ideas and opportunities for success and recognition? At times do you find them attentive of others?  When are they heads down at work?  Do they ever take a break, or does one accomplishment just inspire them to pursue the next?

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