One criticism that I sometimes have of Enneagram type descriptions is that at times they seem to diagnose problems without offering any solutions.

Many descriptions spell out the unhealthy traits and habits of the type in great detail but often fall short of describing the lessons or mindsets that can help a type get out of their self-imposed traps.

For example, an unhealthy Enneagram 3 might be described as an attention-seeking, people-pleasing, opportunistic social chameleon, creating unhappiness for themselves by losing authenticity and trying to predict what will make the largest audience respond to them in the most positive light. But what is a person reading such a description supposed to do with that? Simply stop caring about the things they care about? 

Obviously, to some extent, just being able to recognize an unhealthy pattern and no longer engage in it has value. But in posts such as this, I’m hoping to share more concrete answers to the problem of ‘What am I supposed to do with the unhealthy aspects of my type?’

A great Enneagram 3 resource on this end is Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Ted Talk ‘How Craving Attention Makes You Less Creative.’

While I suspect that Gordon-Levitt might be more of a 4w3 than a pure 3, the talk itself candidly delivers useful insights into the Enneagram type 3 pattern, delivered with the warm, self-aware, self-deprecating sincerity of an Enneagram 4.

Here are some of the most impactful quotes from the video and my comments on how they relate back to the Enneagram types.

“The more I go after that powerful feeling of paying attention, the happier I am. But the more I go after the powerful feeling of getting attention, the unhappier I am.”

“If you’re creativity is driven by a desire to get attention, you’re never going to be creatively fulfilled” – A classic description of the tension between points 3 and 4 on the Enneagram. 

“I try not to see other creatives as competitors, I try to find collaborators” – An important insight leading to healthy Enneagram 3 integration of point 6. 

You can visit the TED.com webpage for the talk here