Enneagram, Identity & Purpose, Self Enneagram Three - The Performer

By Hannah Stapleton


Read the Enneagram series here.

I always describe Enneagram Threes as powerhouses. They get stuff done. Because, deep down inside, Enneagram Threes believe that they are only valued and loved for what they can do and what they accomplish. At their healthiest, they are able to recognize that they can be loved, as my Nana always told me, for who they are, not what they do. When they are less healthy, failure is unacceptable, and they refuse to quit or slow down. That friend who is in like 30 different committees and seems to succeed at everything? Chances are they’re a Three!



In the middle of the Heart/Shame Triad, Threes struggle with their own emotions and the emotions of others. Thus, their Passion or Deadly Sin is Deceit. They deceive themselves that they can be loved only for their accomplishments. They are social chameleons, able to be whoever or whatever those around them need them to be. When they are stressed, Threes look like unhealthy Nines: all that performing wears them out! When they are healthy, they become more like Sixes, in touch with their feelings and they have a more holistic outlook.

Melody Boyer (MB) has been a part of the Grace Church staff for 15 years. During that time, she has been Director of Next Steps, Sr. Director of Connecting, Pastor of Communications and First Impressions, and currently, she serves as the 146th St. Campus Pastor. Melody is married to Craig Boyer and together they have four amazing kids – two boys, two girls. In her off time, Melody loves theater, reading, coffee, and having fun with friends.

Dave Rodriguez (DR) is the founding and senior pastor of Grace Church in Noblesville, IN. Dave has been happily married to Penny for nearly forty years. They have two grown children, Barry Rodriguez (married to Olivia) and Lucy King (married to Kevin). When not living out his calling in ministry, you’ll likely find Dave slaving over a hot stove working on the hobby he loves—being an amateur chef.

Ashton Chaffee’s (AC) three-ness wants to give you a list of accomplishments by way of introduction…BUT instead of doing that, she’ll say this…she is a Butler grad/Chicago Booth MBA who works as Senior Product Manager at an Indy-based tech startup. She’s gone to Grace since she was in 5th grade but was baptized in a lake on her 7th birthday. Working out every day is one of her favorite things to do, and she is the type of person who plans the next trip before the first one even arrives (and much of that planning involves finding all the best foodie spots).

Erin Green (EG) currently lives in Fishers with her husband of (almost) 13 years, their 7-year-old twins (a boy and a girl) and their twin dogs (yes, they have two sets of twins). She is currently a Project Manager for a business/marketing consultancy here locally.  A little bit after they got married, she and her husband decided to look for a church home. They found themselves at Grace Church and it's felt like home ever since. While Erin has always identified as Christian, it was until about 8 years ago that she officially surrendered and was baptized. During their time at Grace, they’ve enjoyed being a part of small groups, volunteering, and watching their kids grow up in Grace Kids.
What’s your favorite thing about being a Three?
MB: Results. I love the fact that 3s are wired for productivity and that we have the capability of generating an idea and seeing it through. Nothing gives me more joy than that, especially if it comes out well. Just to see the evolution and completion of an idea or a goal is really cool as a 3.
DR: I love the energy of it. I love the motivational aspect of it.
AC: The thing I love about being a 3 is that I am highly goal and future oriented. I have a natural ability to vision-cast…to look towards the future and what “could be,” formulate a path to get there, and help others see and believe in that future, too. There is a lot to say about a positive mindset and how it can contribute to not only achievement, but also outlook, relationships, and daily life…and I think a healthy 3 has the natural inclination to live with that positive outlook and act on it.
EG: That I can see the path forward within the chaos. I'm well known as a planner at home and work. I like being intentional about what I'm doing or leading others through.
What’s the worst or hardest thing about being a Three?
MB: I personally feel a lot of guilt. I feel shame, that I’m not doing enough, that I’m disappointing people. If you live to please, to be accepted, or feel like there’s this goal out there that you just will never be able to achieve (not everyone’s going to love you), it’s the endless desire to achieve the things that you can’t and to try to fulfill your own value with those achievements. And that’s never going to happen.
DR: Struggling with performance mentality.
AC: The hardest thing about being a 3, I think, is just general “issues” with perception of others. I have never resonated with the “all eyes on me, center of the stage, Uber-materialistic” version of 3’s that is so often personified in memes…so when people think that’s all there is to 3’s, I always feel like I need to explain the positives as well.  But that’s ironic that I’d feel that way, because 3’s are very image conscious…so, guess I fall right in line there! ; ) 3’s are always weighing their decisions against what is expected, what is going to set them up best for success, and how others might judge those actions, so it’s always tough to find a balance between “what do I WANT to do because I think it’s right” vs “what do I want to portray through what I do/achieve.""
EG: I have a hard time relaxing knowing there's always something that needs to be done. Though, I'm finding that rest does more good than getting one. More. Thing. Done.
If you could describe your number in three words, what would you pick?
MB: Driven. Productive. Adaptable.
DR: Follow me! (that’s two 😊)
AC: Achiever. Driven. Goals.
AC: Determined. Organized. Passionate.
When did you know you’d found your number?
MB: I think through the job transition of going from a behind-the-scenes person in the communications world to campus pastor, I felt immensely vulnerable and felt very aware that I was a 3 at that point. I felt that there was more safety in being behind the scenes because I didn’t feel like a target for everyone’s opinion or public failure. I can get into that performance critique of myself. As a woman, I’m not some people’s first choice. How do I feel standing in front of them knowing that? Trying to lead at what I feel was an automatic disadvantage for some. I struggled for a while with the insecurity of being a 3 and being performance driven and feeling like “Am I setting myself up for vulnerability and possible failure?” I think those weeks and months and really the first whole year of that role, I was aware of being a 3. “I’m not called to please. I’m not called to even succeed. I’m just called to be obedient. That’s the best I can do.”
DR: When I first took the test.
AC: I don’t think it was ever a question 🤣 the second I read the description; I knew I was a 3. My highest strengths finder strength is “competition” followed by “vision""…so I knew it lined up well.
EG: When I took the assessments, that's all there was, was the results. Only until recently have I heard about learning about all the numbers and processing which number speaks to me. Regardless, even the more I learn about all the numbers, I know I'm a 3. Learning about it has helped me explain why I do what I do (and have always done) and give me some great internal perspective.
What’s one thing about your number you think everyone should know?
MB: That we’re not as confident as we probably project. There’s something within us that is trying to be worthy. I think people can look at a 3 and think that we’ve got our stuff together or that we think we’re all that. But the truth is that we don’t. We feel shame. We want to do things to try to be worthy, but we never actually feel worthy if we’re in a unresourceful place. So, having an understanding that what we project could very well be completely opposite of how we actually view ourselves.
DR: I am always thinking about tomorrow and tend to downplay the past.
AC: You WANT a (healthy) 3 on your team. They will bring focus, vision, action, and positivity to whatever you are doing! And once the “thing” you are working on is done…it will probably be done better than most anyone else would do it.
EG: That 3's need to be reminded to stop and be in the moment. I'm always looking ahead and it's hard to remember sometimes just to be right where I'm at.
What’s your wing? How does that play in to your dominant type?
MB: [Melody is a 4 wing] [I see a lot of focus on] the creativity of something, the creation of experiences. I do love setting environment. An environment is huge to me. I used to do design at Grace and different things related to the creative process. But it’s been interesting, because when I became campus pastor, the 2 wing that was kind of dormant, suddenly I’m doing people care. Effectiveness, as a three, is me representing, defending, and empathizing with my people. My 2 [rose to the occasion] and is almost even with the 4 now. It was an unflexed muscle. My personality has a lot of 2, but when I’m told [that] my role is to advocate, empathize, and love on this congregation, then that’s what you do! I began to open myself up to love and to relationships, to the sides of the 2 that felt more vulnerable or exhausting to me. My Four and my Two wings are almost equal right now. As my 2 grew, the darker side of my 4 became present.
DR: 4. Creativity and emotion play huge roles in my communication and leadership.
AC: My wing is 4…which is super complex because even if I feel very deeply, I typically temper the display of those emotions or strategically choose when they are displayed. On the positive side, I have the ability to find creative solutions and apply them to my work in ways that are original and help us move (I.e. accomplish things) at a much faster rate.
EG: My wing is a 2. It certainly helps me lead with empathy when I'm trying to run forward on whatever I'm trying to do. 2's are also known for wanting to help/fix everything. That for sure kicks in when I'm communicating with those I'm with (work, family, friends) as I can help explain the why, or why it's important to them.
How does the Enneagram play into your vocation?
MB: It plays into my current vocation because 1), the different plates we have spinning—like I have to go from one counseling session, to one confrontation, to an event-planning meeting, to a celebration of someone on staff, to a leadership team meeting where we are discussing five different topics of various ranges of emotion and I have to be able to meet that moment and be in that moment. I have to be able to moment to moment to moment, meeting to meeting, encounter to encounter, be able to immerse myself in that moment and have the energy to sustain through it. And have the sensitivity to meet them in that. On my best days, I do that well and it works into my personality well. And on the other side, taps into the creative side with event planning and so on.
DR: It informs how I lead such a large organization
AC: The Enneagram has played a huge part in my career journey and what I do. As an achievement, future, goal-oriented person, I always have an objective in mind (that is based on the life I want to lead and what I want for my future) when I make vocational decisions. A lot of times, 3’s are natural leaders, and that has also played a part in the types of roles I take on. For example, as a senior product manager, I help set the product vision for my company, break that down into strategic blocks of work, and then communicate that out to various parts of the company to accomplish the work…so the role really brings all of the strengths of a 3 together.
EG: It plays into a lot of what I do! Being someone who can make a plan from point A to point B helps me a lot being a Project Manager. And being in the marketing/agency world, there's always things changing, so making sense of it all is somewhat of my superpower :)
How does your knowledge of Enneagram affect or influence your relationships?
MB: All of my kids, my family, we have conversations about it [the Enneagram]. For all my kids I’m aware of what I believe they are (though I know we’re supposed to be careful not to give them a number early on and strap it on them) and kind of watch and pray and school or train or coach them against [their weakness]. I use those things in parenting and in my friendships. At one point, I realized I had a ton of 8s in my life. So, I prayed for 9s. I need some balance. So sometimes I use it strategically to provide different perspectives and tones and energy levels. 
DR: I am aware how overpowering I can be. It makes me impatient at times. I abhor a leadership vacuum and jump in.
AC: Enneagram as a tool has for sure helped me understand how to best communicate with and relate to others…what they need in order to make a decision (ex: time or facts)…how they might respond (ex: need to soak it in a while or excitement)…and what frame of reference they take action from. It helps me remove myself from the equation a little bit, in that if I know what they need or where they are coming from, I have less reason to be offended or surprised or taken aback if things don’t happen the way I would want or expect.
EG: It gives so much perspective! The more I know about the person and their Enneagram number, it removes any temptations to judge (for lack of a better description), and help me understand why they did what they did. Or why they feel the way they do. Or start to see their strengths and know how to play to them.
How does the Enneagram affect your faith? Do you use it as spiritual practice?
MB: I think it is absolutely spiritual. It’s the sides of you that are surrendered and the sides of you that are not. It’s our human nature, it’s our sinful nature, and I think it’s such an amazing tool. When you read any of the Enneagram numbers, suddenly we’re all so immensely broken and beautiful. We need a Redeemer and we need to rely on that and build on what we know that God can do in redeeming our unresourceful areas. I think it’s absolutely, positively spiritual. It says “here’s who you are without Me [God] and here’s how you can be with Me.” Isn’t that cool?
DR: It tends to make me run to God often for encouragement if things in my life are not moving forward. I actually try to use my 4 wing more than my 3 in my relationship with God.
EG: The Enneagram has certainly help me identify areas where I need to be more dependent on God. Since the Enneagram explains why I do what I do and even what my bad tendencies are, I can take those to God and ask Him what I should be doing with those instead of trying to problem-solve myself.
How does the Enneagram bring you closer to God, if it does?
MB: Repentance. I have a twenty-minute drive home. Most days, I recount my day. I recount my interactions, different meetings and decisions and things I said, and I ask myself, “what was, to the best of my knowledge, my motivation in that?” And if it was out of pride or I felt like I manipulated a situation or if I feel like I was ashamed of something, I use it, knowing my tendencies, to repent. And then I use it to ask God, “God I know I’ve got this big day coming up. Will you please remind me throughout the day that my confidence is in you? That I’m your daughter, that you love me, and that’s really all that matters. I don’t have to perform for the world.” I use it all the time spiritually and just as a tool to bring me to a deeper level of communion with God.
DR: It makes me very aware of my unresourceful self.
AC: One thing I learned recently (I believe on a podcast with Suzanne Stabile) is that whereas traditionally it was thought that your number came from a childhood wound, the latest thinking is that it is by and large nature - the way we are born. That is something that is comforting to me and brings me closer to God because I have always felt that this was the way I was made - with particular strengths, patterns of thought, and skills - and that all of those things will ultimately come together to serve a bigger purpose than I can see now. To think that it was intentional - by design - rather than due to a circumstance or series of events helps me to uncover more about God as a creator and gives me the chance to work with Him to bring about that greater purpose.
EG: It certainly is a reminder that God made me enough from the beginning. It's not about what I do or what others think of me. So in those moments where I've caught myself being worried about that, I can stop and surrender to God and know all that matters is my relationship with Him.
What are some resources you would offer to other Threes?
MB: Anything Brené Brown on vulnerability. A good one is Dare to Lead. There is a Danielle Strickland book on perfectionism: A Beautiful Mess. That one [is about] finding the beauty in less than perfect scenarios, so I think that is really, really good. Learning to Walk Through the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor. That one is really artistic and beautiful. It’s about learning that when things are hard and dark, not to rush through that, there is beauty in that, because 3s will push away their emotions. It’s a beautifully written book. It’s all about the beauty of darkness and the necessity of darkness in our life sometimes to help us develop and grow.  It’s All Under Control by Jennifer Dukes Lee. That was a great one. They’re all so good.
AC: This is more so for all numbers and the Enneagram in general, but Annie F Downs did a podcast series this summer called “ where she interviewed people about their experience living as their number. I actually didn’t feel totally represented by the 3 episode, funny enough, BUT I think it did help me understand the thought patterns and habits of other numbers more. There are a few Instagram accounts - @ginagomez.co and @justmyenneatype - that I think do a great job of highlighting the unique thought patterns, emotions, and motivations for each number, and those accounts usually resonate with me a ton when they describe 3’s.

Resources for Three

The Enneagram Institute
Sleeping at Last “Nine”
Typology Podcast
The Road Back to You Podcast interview with Sarah Bessey


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