Focus – 3

I don’t like attaching single-word descriptions of styles as a rule, but style 3 is nicely described by the ambiguous word performance.

If someone does a task well, we say it was quite a performance. But performance has another meaning: it means to do something for the sake of being seen.

So a central focus of style 3 is recognition for their work. Thees have an invisible and often visible audience in mind. They identify with their work and want to be applauded, rewarded and honored for their work. In our 3ish culture, we move easily from a successful project to calling someone a success, a generalization that gives the identification of work and worker away.

After the break

I took some time off from this blog to go the California to teach the Enneagram to a group of coaches. A good time was had by all. Coaches happy about new insights.

Whilst reading the internet, I noticed that Jennifer Lawrence is much in the news. So when I caught her Enneagram style, I thought I’d share it with you. Here she is on Colbert, nice and clear about her style.


Our Enneagram style begins with a focus of attention. Usually we think of focus as “what we’re looking at.” Within our Enneagram style, we should consciously add, “what we’re looking FOR.”

Each style has a mild to extreme hunger. We “know” that if we find what we’re looking for we’ll be happy. A style One “has” to know she is following the rules. These rules may be inherited –“mama always said” or social –no shoes, no service– or moral “thou shalt not — but within style One, there will be a devotion to what is supposed to be.

Martha Stewart knows exactly how things should look, and Miss Manners knows exactly how to set a table. Bill Maher knows exactly what we should think about politics. The reason? Because they spend a great deal of time and effort finding out. They go looking FOR what are the rules. (Maher gives himself away easily, for example: his session always features “New Rules.”


I’ve written about polarization recently, but the recent election talk about polarization is so often wrong that I want to distinguish between polarization and simple denial.

When a Seven polarizes around work, he does nothing for fear of doing too much. Unemployed in order not to be a workaholic. It is important to understand that both extremes are dependent on the other. It is an attempt to find safety. The inertia depends on the belief of having to be limitlessly struggling. A workaholic could harbor a deep fear of having no way to make a living.

But when someone like James Inhofe denies climate change (He is a senator from Oklahoma leading the committee on environment), he is not polarized between having to believe everything science proves and nothing about science is true. His is simply denial: he says it can’t be true for reasons political and economical, in the same way the rest of us eat junk food, saying it won’t hurt us.

The media constantly talks about congress being polarized. But within the Enneagram personalities, polarization has a much narrower focus. The key is the dependence of one’s position on the belief it is the only way to prevent the opposite from occurring. Inhofe is not afraid that our climate is stable.

Divided we fall–9

Nines have a general tendency to go along with the agendae of others rather than assert themselves.
When they polarize, they are convinced that the two agendae are incompatible: it is either your way or mine, your choice or mine. Their usual negotiation skills break down and they feel forced to choose between non-negotiable positions.

Divided we fall -8

Eights are sometimes polarized between power and weakness. Because they often feel an inner vulnerability, they make a show of outward power. In extreme cases this becomes bullying. If they don’t acknowledge an inner vulnerability, however, at times they project their weakness on to others and become quite protective, even co-dependent; they take care of others they see as week in order not to feel their own weakness.

Divided we fall – 7

Sevens are frequently polarized between discipline and spontaneity. They fear if they work assiduously to acquire competence in an arena, they will lose their spontaneity – which they prize.

For example, many Sevens find it not only tiring but threatening to prepare a lecture. Their fear is that they will merely recite from memory what they have learned and will be boring. “Just do it” is a maxim that leads many Sevens astray.

Divided we fall – 6

Standard understanding of style Six is phobic and counterphobic and that description fits the polarization within style Six. Sixes, when faced with decisions or the necessity of action will frequently, when polarized, become paralyzed. Their starting point of giving away their power leaves them frozen. But they may also employ the opposite strategy: they do exactly what they fear. Often this is impulsive and occasionally is anti-authoritarian.

Style Three’s full life

I’m taking a break in my sequence because I read this guy’s description of his life on Quora. This is what a bright style Three’s life looks like.

I can do pretty much anything I put my mind to, so at times I took on far more than any one human being should do. I worked full time, and went to college, and raised a daughter, and built a house with my hands all at the same time. I have skydived, finished the San Francisco marathon, raced cars at famous road tracks and was even a track instructor for car clubs for several years. I scuba dive, ride a motorcycle and ride horses. I have a lot of kinesthetic intelligence as well as linguistic.

Work-wise I have mostly worked with lawyers and techies because I like being around smart people. I earned an MBA and owned my own business for much of my life. I worked myself nearly to death because I loved the rewards, I worked for a few wonderful companies that were meritocracies and I was like a rat hitting the bar for a pellet.

Some guys have all the fun.