• Alex Rathbun

Enneagram Three: The Achiever



Today we get to hear from Brian Fulton, someone who's had a lot of influence in my life since I first moved to Chicago over 5 years ago. He's a pastor at the church I go to and an all around great friend! Our first Enneagram interview was with Brian's wife, Ashley. (Check it out here if you missed it).


What is the Enneagram? Check out this post for an overview. What is an Enneagram Three? Their nickname is The Reformer. Their basic desire is to feel valuable. I hope my interview with Brian helps shed some wisdom into your life, whether you're a Three, are married to one, or are friends with one.





1. When and why did you first learn about the Enneagram?


"I vividly remember discovering the Enneagram. My wife, Ashley & I took our first vacation without children since having kids. It was January of 2015 and we were in Mexico. I just discovered Immortal Diamond by Richard Rohr and I wanted to read more by him. I saw this book on the Enneagram and was curious so I bought it and brought it to the beach.


"I remember sitting by the ocean and a funny scene to say this, but I felt exposed and naked - as if this guy was peering into my soul and knew me better than I knew myself. I couldn’t stop thinking of what I was discovering and I became fixated on it. I had never seen a tool for self awareness quite so accurate and specific. The framework has been useful in any given week since then."




2. How has the Enneagram impacted how you see yourself?


"It shows me who I 'think' I need to be and how I’ve learned to survive this far in life (my

false self). The Enneagram was definitely a punch in the gut at first. But the more I dig in, I’ve

learned how to be more observant of myself without judgment and to embrace my wounds

as part of who I am."






3. How has the Enneagram impacted the relationships in your life and how you view others?


"It has been a powerful tool of empathy for others and very helpful when I give spiritual direction or counsel to others."





4. How do you most relate to your Enneagram? How do you act when healthy and unhealthy?


"Interesting you use the word 'act' because that is exactly what I do when I’m functioning from an unhealthy place (or false self, as I’ve referred to it). As a Type Three,  I’m 'acting' the part in response to the question, 'What will they think of me? Will they like me? Admire me? Promote me?' What a fragile personality!! - All I’ve got when in the false self is how others respond.


"When I’m more attune to my true self, I’m not acting. I’m not defined by my Enneagram number actually. The best way to describe the way I am internally when healthy is at those moments, time seems to stand still & there’s a deep joy that seems so present and touchable - and it’s as if God and the earth and I are all intertwined and for a moment, and performance and significance do not matter and are the farthest from my reality."




5. What's the biggest misconception about you or your type?


"Personally, I have to hold the attention of a crowd when I speak to a congregation as a communicator and people might think I’m just as engaging one on one, but I can be quite boring to hang out with at times and I find it takes a lot of energy and effort to engage in small talk.


"I think a major misunderstanding of Threes is that because we are the center of the heart triad, one could assume we are very attuned to our feelings. Threes are the exact opposite - we have no clue what we feel because we are so attuned to what everyone else feels."





6. Answer the following: I feel loved when ____. I feel unloved when ___. 


"I feel loved when I’m noticed. I feel unloved when I’m overlooked."






If you'd like to explore more about Type Threes, I recommend this podcast.


Did you learn anything new or interesting from today's interview? Is there anything you learned about Type Threes that you didn't know before? Let me know in the comments below!

Brightly Alex