Living Points 123

Getting Started

The change lifecycle begins with orienting to the environment, relating to others who provide resources, and coming forward to present oneself and take action. Type Ones perfect the orientation; Type Twos pour attention into relating; and Type Threes are all about showing up and shining.

Point One


The first stage in any process is orienting to the given situation and forging an impulse to change conditions for the better. The first impression has a huge impact on the trajectory of growth. Type Ones strive for integrity by aligning with core values to begin new growth perfectly; yet a loud Inner Critic can stall growth & nit-pick others. Hard work at the beginning pays off in the end, but it can also create inflexibility around the One Right Way to do things. When the beginning can be accepted as “good enough,” growth can continue. Adjustments can be made as the process unfolds.

Seed: Potential Growth

In the life cycle of a bean plant, the seed is a very dry, tightly packed bundle of potential. Proper planting allows seed to flourish among the right proportions of water, heat, and oxygen. Some seeds never start growing.

The focus at Point One is on the purity of the initial intention — the “seed” of the project or activity — and on the ideal conditions or “soil” for growth. Intention here refers to aligning activity with the relevant core values or standards. More specifically, it is about the initial impulse. The first activity, imprint, or impression will have a huge impact on the journey. It is best to impress the intention — “plant the seed” — within most ideal conditions possible for optimal growth.

Heat is often a critical component in the first stage of any process. In human terms, we feel the friction that accompanies disorientation when starting something new. Fire both motivates our initiation of a new process — gets our passion for the project stirring — and it condenses, purifies, and organizes our initially chaotic impulses into a wholesome first gesture.

Perfectionist Reformer

When driven by Anger — an ongoing irritation that things are not properly fitting — Type Ones start Aligning: criticizing and precisely calibrating self, others, and situations. Focus of Attention: what is right/wrong or good/bad; noticing even the smallest errors.

Ones Forget: Reality is basically good & always perfectly fitting with itself. Ones strive to acquire goodness and make everything fit better. Ones do this through aggression towards their vitality and will: attempting to regulate, control and civilize their natural impulses. Ones Believe: I must work to be perfect because only perfect people are worthy of love and respect; good enough is never good enough. Ones work hard to create a better world & can worry excessively, taking on too much responsibility as the reformer. They have high ideals & align their conduct with internal standards. Ones Excel: at being objective, fair minded, and honing in on core values. Ones tend to be honest, responsible, dependable, and have a higher than average degree of commonsense.

Sketch by Margarita Fernandez, in Naranjo, Claudio, M.D.  Character and Neurosis: An Integrative View. Nevada City, CA: Gateways/DHHB, Inc. 1994. Page 20.

Type One Personality

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

– Serenity Prayer

The Type One personality pattern is driven by anger or wrath. Anger shows up in what Oscar Ichazo called “standing against reality.” Type Ones use anger to control anger – constrain it, tame it, civilize it. It is an anger against anger.

With respect to their own well-being, Ones can direct their anger inward to improving themselves and perfecting their home and family environments. Anger thus shows up as a relentless Inner Critic.

Ones are notoriously different when they cut loose with friends or travel on a truly relaxing vacation. A One touring Australia with no particular plan, except enjoying every day anew, excitedly emailed a friend back in the United States with a revelation. “I discovered the secret to a good life: make every day back home feel like vacation!”

In personal relationships, Ones can direct their anger at improving others with an intention of being helpful. “Even when my wife is silent,” the partner of a One reported, “I can still feel the heat of her rising irritation with me. She’s like a portable space heater toasting and tensing the area around us until I stop whatever it is I’m doing.”

When Ones focus energy in the social realm, their actions can show up as an impassioned force for societal change. They tend to take public policy personally. It feels appropriate to express anger on behalf of others.

After quizzing a waitress about the biographies of the various fish in the dinner specials – where they were from, how they were caught – a Type One methodically scrolled through a new app on his smartphone. “None of these fish are acceptable by sustainable fishing standards,” he pointedly lectured. Without missing a beat, the waitress replied, “Well none of these fish dinners are going to be sustainable if no one eats them!”

Crusading Ones in the social arena strive to be the models of perfection. As a result, they struggle with hypocrisy. Twentieth Century theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, likely a Type One, famously observed, “hypocrisy [is] an inevitable byproduct of all virtuous endeavor.”

Ones transmute anger into the virtue of serenity – the cool wisdom of letting go and forgiving that which cannot be changed. Niebuhr is also credited with writing the Serenity Prayer, adopted by many in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Ones gift our collective consciousness with a moral compass. Ones have an intuitive, gut-level wisdom of proper relating, proper consideration, proper boundaries, proper proportion, and proper spatial arrangement. These qualities guide the collective in evermore subtle, joyful flow as we continue the human journey of sharpening the edges of our uniqueness, that which makes each one of us special and beautiful.

You might be a Type One if you . . .

… focus your attention on alignment and the smallest errors: right versus wrong

are a wise judge with depth of feeling and a light heart, when healthy

talk with polite precision, love the word “perfect,” and can be preachy

like enforcing ethics, cultivating character, & referencing core values

critique others with only a fraction of what your Inner Critic says

…often correct people for their own good, their own improvement

enjoy goodness being done – by whomever – and you do not need credit

are forgiving when people admit errors quickly

… numb your “bad” personal emotions by moving to “proper” impersonal standards

… get frustrated or sad when you feel like you are the only “responsible adult” in the room

… work hard to improve your life, the lives of people you love, and the lives of future generations

… shine when feeling empathy for others and when good humor infuses your hard work!

Path of Growth

When relaxing their reactivity, Ones start connecting with their authentic personal feelings and not just impersonal, objective standards of how things “ought to be.” Relaxation of anger and resentment invites true empathy with other people. Getting in touch with the sadness underneath their usual irritation is a portal into their hearts. This is how Point One connects with Point Four.

With integration, Ones can gently frame the Inner Critic and let it go with gratitude. In so doing, Ones are more willing to go with flow and be flexible. This opens the One to new thoughts, perspectives, and ways of living. It welcomes more positive outlook, pleasure, and spontaneity. This is how Point One connects with Point Seven.

At their best, Ones exude Serenity or “calm joy” by going with the flow in way that is peacefully awake, yet sizzling with exuberance. They embody the Higher Quality of Perfection – life’s natural goodness & order, complete just as it is even amidst apparent chaos. Ones are sincere, truthful and inspiring and, when relaxed, they are delightfully funny. There is less obsession with improvement projects — self, others, the world. Authentic acceptance actually facilitates the growth so deeply longed for. Integrated Ones radiate a beautiful mixture of hard work, dedication, humor, ease, and acceptance of themselves, others, and situations.

Point Two


The initial intention needs encouraging, nurturing, and resourcing. The second stage in any process of relating to others. Inspiration comes from teachers and true friends who have made the journey and who can provide needed resources — particularly emotional care. Type Twos naturally attend to the needs of others; yet their one-way attention can smoother others, and it can create dependency. “Help” often comes with invisible strings attached. Recipients might feel the pressure of indebtedness; or they might overlook or ignore the unstated needs of the Two who care for them, resulting in significant drama. Meanwhile, Twos can feel continued pressure to keep up the pleasing and helping roles that dependent others have come to expect from them. Yet, does anyone really want to live in indentured servitude? Genuine relating is carried on in and through freedom. It is a natural flow of give-and-take that meets everyone’s needs reciprocally, and in the real-time of the relating itself. Because healthy relating is unconditional and self-fulfilling, it facilitates inter-dependence.

Watering: Swelling Seed

In the second stage of the life cycle of a bean plant, the seed takes up water from the soil, but has not yet come to life. Water activates inner enzymes & seed expands in size. The seed needs moistening, but drowning suffocates it!

The focus at Point Two is on appropriate and genuine relating — neither intrusive nor artificial — and resourcing — the truly nurting amoung of “watering” flowing into the seed for its continued growth. Likewise, connecting with others who offer loving attention gives us what we need to see our arduous journey through to its end. 

Pleasing Helper

When driven by Pride — inordinate inflation or deflation of self worth — Twos start Influencing: plucking on others’ heart strings and flattering their egos to get them to give the attention the Two needs. Focus of Attention: other people’s needs, what others pride themselves on.

Twos Forget: Reality flows exactly as needed. Twos maneuver others into meeting their needs without the “shame” of having to ask directly. Twos do this through aggression towards their “unacceptable” true feelings and identity. Twos Believe: I must work hard to be loved in order to get my needs met; to be loveable, I must appear as having no needs. Twos shape-shift into the other’s heart’s desire. Twos feel good mainly when in the giving role and often resist directly receiving. Twos try to be indispensable and create dependencies, expecting their needs will be met tit-for-tat. They can get angry & histrionic when their hidden expectations for return giving are not met. Twos can be The (Too) Giving One by losing themselves self entirely or playing the martyr. Twos Excel: at spotting & nurturing potential in others, caring for people, and good communication skills. Twos tend to be very attentive and devoted to the ones they love.

Sketch by Margarita Fernandez, in Naranjo, Claudio, M.D.  Character and Neurosis: An Integrative View. Nevada City, CA: Gateways/DHHB, Inc. 1994. Page 20.

Type Two Personality

If I could give you information of my life, it would be to show how a woman of very ordinary ability has been led by God in strange and unaccustomed paths to do In His service what He has done in her. And if I could tell you all, you would see how God has done all, and I nothing.

– Florence Nightingale

There is a natural flow of give-and-take happening constantly. Twos love going with the flow of life. All needs are attended to naturally in this flow. In some religions, this is what it means to follow God’s will in humble service. Florence Nightingale, a likely Type Two, said if she could tell you everything about her, “you would see how God had done all, and I nothing.”

Twos struggle with pride. Twos naturally attune to others’ emotional needs and give attention to important others in a pleasing way. Others become increasingly dependent on the Two’s attention. Twos then experience the power to influence others emotionally, the power to influence the flow rather than simply going with it. This is how the Two gets their needs met covertly: through the return giving others feel compelled to provide.

With respect to their own well-being, Twos can please others by appearing childlike, no matter what their age. People tend to like receiving attention from innocence, and they naturally give in return. Or Twos can flip this dynamic by taking on a motherly role and tending to the inner child of others. In both of these ways, Twos tend to express entitlement to attention from others.

One Two recalled his days in the 1990s rave culture. “I was the ‘mother hen’ of our party crew, making sure everyone had enough water and candy and costume glitter. At the time, I’d get pissed off if friends brushed me off or asked me to ‘chill out.’ Looking back, I see how much I needed to be the caretaker. It felt good to feel needed.”

In personal relationships, Twos can please others seductively. Twos shape-shifts to appear as the heart’s desire of the other. People tend to enjoy being the object of flirtation and flattery, and Twos are masters of the art. All the shape-shifting, however, takes a toll: Twos are less in touch with their true feelings in relationships. “I admit I like the challenge of the hunt,” one Two reports. “But then even some of my friends end up falling in love with me. It gets me into drama because I don’t feel the same way.”

In the social arena, Twos tend to be more ambitious. They seduce environments and groups with their show of competence. Twos like becoming indespensible to groups and connecting people in back-scratching networks or being the power behind the throne of key leaders. Twos in the social arena also can be prone to spiritual pride – the martyr who sacrifices for the divine, while secretly keeping a heavenly scorecard.

The habits of pleasing and influencing imprison Twos in other people’s expectations for continued giving and in their own expectations for return attention. Humble submission to life’s natural dance of give-and-take is freedom from all roles and expectations.

Twos gift our collective consciousness with a willingness to attend sensitively to the needs of other people. When able to express what they need directly, and when living from a place of authenticity, the power of the Two to nurture the best in all of us is boundless.

You might be a Type Two if you . . .

… focus your attention on others’ needs and their ego images, so as to better please: what puffs v. what deflates

… can be unconditionally loving & truly altruistic, when healthy

… talk in sympathetic (“oh, you poor thing”) or haughty tones (“hrumph”)

… give unsolicited advice or try too hard to be “helpful”

… go to battle on behalf of your partners & loved ones

… are the best at choosing gifts with a personal touch

… over-connect by interrupting others or match their gestures, eye contact & interests

… are too touchy or struggle with good boundaries generally

… know others’ needs better than they do, yet your own needs are puzzle

… are very sensitive to feeling shame or you tend to take things too personally

…  shine when nurturing another’s potential while tending to your own as well!

Path of Growth

When relaxing their reactivity, Twos get passionate about identifying what they really want, need, and desire . . . and directly communicate that to the world. Greater embodiment supports stronger boundaries — physical and emotional. Pain sensitivity is also brought into balance, helping the Two to not take everything so personally. This is how Point Two connects with Point Eight.

With integration, Twos dive deeply into, and connect with, their own personal feelings, especially sadness. This allows the Two to discover the authentic self, apart from the eyes of others. A greater willingness to go into the dark parts of oneself, including so-called “selfish” motives and manipulations, invites the integration of these darker energies. Such deep-sea diving is often best done thru creative, artistic expression. This is how Point Two connects with Point Four.

At their best, Twos exude Humility — loving themselves as they are and expressing their own needs in appropriate proportion to their giving to others. Authenticity is found only in the freedom to be who we truly are — to offer our true gifts, without inflation or deflation, and without strings attached.

Integrated Twos begin to embody the Higher Quality of Freedom — flowing with life with no strings attached. Twos are naturally devotional, giving themselves in loving service, and Twos gifted at cultivating relationships. Twos create happenings where everyone feels at ease enough to blossom. Healthy Twos become exemplars of unconditional loving service, free of the burdens of exhaustive morphing or keeping score. Such Twos uplift people who need the most — rather than curry favor with a select few who are powerful — and they do so with grace and beauty, and from a place of integrity.

Point Three

Coming Forward

The third stage in any process of change is coming forward and making an effort. This is a period of trial and error. Efficient adaptation helps to find what works best to bring about maximum value. There may also be a “fake it until you make it” confidence that helps moves things along in decisive action. Type Threes strive to feel valuable by through achieving their goals and presenting a winning image; yet the temptation to exaggerate wins, worth, and virtue can undermine honest success. When failure can be accepted as life’s best facilitator of transformation, the true prize is in reach: lasting self-change inspired by the felt sense of a deeper, inherent dignity that has nothing to do with outcomes. Feeling into intrinsic worth is priceless!

Radicle: Coming to Life

In the third phase of the life cycle of a bean plant, the embryonic root within seed comes to life & breaks thru seed’s outer shell. Exactly how is still a mystery. Darwin said the “radicle” is like a brain: it moves based on receiving outside sensory impressions. The radicle moves propelled by its own energy, namely, the seed’s reserve of food.

The focus at Point Three in the process of transforming ourselves involes emerging from the nurturence of our teachers and our own inhibitions in order to act boldly and independently. Radiating is coming out & shining! This is a time of efforting to test our skills and competency. We push against our limits by getting into the arena of dynamic action and giving our best to be our best. Just as the radicle sensitively responds to the soil conditions around the seed in order to know how to move, at Point Three, we rely on a trusted audience to give us authentic feedback about our efforts so we can adjust and grow.

Achieving Performer

When driven by Vainglory — inflation of & deceit about one’s abilities, qualities, and successes — Threes start Performing: shamelessly doing or saying anything to be the best, win the audience. Focus of Attention: keeping up MY image: what’s valued in this context? What’s most efficient to producing or showing that value?

Threes Forget: Reality is already gloriously self-luminous. Threes do whatever it takes to win praise and glory. Threes habitually generate and display feelings attracting audience approval, becoming confused about their true feelings and identity. Threes Believe: I am valuable only for what I do; I must shine my credentials to get honor, attention, and love. Threes speed thru life and believe feelings slow things down too much. They so completely sell their stardom in any given context (best executive, best hippie, best artist, etc.) that they deceive themselves and others. Threes can be overly optimistic or lack all hope (“why try if I can’t win?”). Threes also can be the (Too) Radiant One—presenting as the most shining one at the expense of others. Threes Excel: at being adaptable, optimistic, and energetic. Threes are quick to spot best means to any goal and they make excellent mentors.

Sketch by Margarita Fernandez, in Naranjo, Claudio, M.D.  Character and Neurosis: An Integrative View. Nevada City, CA: Gateways/DHHB, Inc. 1994. Page 20.

Type Three Personality

I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.

– Muhammad Ali

Existence is a mystery. On the surface, it seems obvious that we exist. Yet, on a deeper level, both science and introspection reveal we are empty of anything solid. Everything is constantly changing, constantly becoming, constantly adapting to everything else – all according to universal laws. From this perspective, all being is actually doing. There is no separate identity or self.

The Three in all of us creates an identity out of the doing of our personality type, our habit patterns. Identity is a deception – an elaborate fiction through which Reality can experience separation.

The Type Three personality pattern in the center of this grand deception, driven by vainglory, or deceit. Threes are so closely identified with what they do, what they present to others, that deception becomes existential fact rather than playful fiction. Threes do whatever it takes to win the shine of recognition – “you are valuable” – in the eyes of the relevant audience.

With respect to their own well-being, Threes work hard to prove their worthiness to themselves as much as others. Threes can get defensive about their virtue, creating a ‘vanity of having no vanity.’ One Three discovered a startling paradox. “One evening my partner kept bugging me to come to a romantic dinner she prepared,” she said. “I kept putting her off ‘a few more minutes’ while I powered through my to-do list. Then I realized, ‘I’m working hard to provide us with financial security so I can earn love.’ But her love was right there waiting all along!”

In personal relationships, Threes like to shine themselves so their partner shines, and vice-versa. Often this is done through a focus on gender roles in a kind of hyper-masculinity or hyper-femininity.

In the social arena or in groups, Threes can be openly boastful and exaggerating. Muhammad Ali, a likely Three, said, “I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be.” He also said, “It’s hard to be humble, when you’re as great as I am.”

Threes transmute vainglory into magnanimity, a big-hearted and civic-minded activity moving from a place of honest presentation of themselves in solidarity with others.

Threes gift the collective consciousness with the boldness to come forward and ‘be’ something, to engage in the play of incarnation in this human life, with its triumphs and tragedies. When we consciously inhabit the fiction of our identities, we become personas of Reality. When we realize the truth of emptiness behind the mask, and the corresponding truth of non-separation with others, our doing becomes an easeful, skillful service done for everyone’s benefit.

You might be a Type Three if you . . .

… focus your attention on keeping up your image: valuable v. not valuable

… are a genuine exemplar, while also being utterly modest and humble, when healthy

… talk with gusto and confidence, motivating self & others for success

… obsess about To-Do lists and get unusual pleasure crossing things off

… see relationships and feelings as things ‘to do’ on your To-Do list

… take what’s at hand and transform it into something simple, yet elegant

… perform for the audience at hand & watch closely for any glimmer of approval

… perform for an imaginary audience when real people are not available

… rush too fast to prove your competence, showing off a premature excellence

… secretly believe you failed if you got second place

… shine when using you many talents to uplift the common good!

Path of Growth

When relaxing their reactive pattern of jumping into doing, Threes start easing their incessant activity in order to live more presently in each moment. Dropping the deceit of having to show off a winning personality, Threes embrace simplicity and humility. They begin projects more in tune with their heart and with helping others, rather than advancing their own glory. This is how Point Three connects with Point Nine.

With integration, Threes accept foibles and failures a natural part of the human journey. They skillfully use self-questioning to uncover more of the true self under all the masks and appearances. Rigorous self-honesty opens the Three to a flood of their true feelings and bonds the Three in the human family. We rise and fall together! This is how Point Three connects with Point Six.

At their best, Threes show Magnanimity — a generosity of communal spirit — by honoring everyone as worthy, as is. They embody the Higher Quality of Hope — a deep knowing that all will be well despite the outcome of their efforts & that this guaranteed “happy ending” ultimately is beyond their capacity to make it so. Integrated Threes know all people have unconditional, inherent dignity. They are dynamic, optimistic, creative, and they get things done, all in a spirit of big hearted inclusiveness.

Learn More

Journey through each Enneagram Point and discover how its stage in the process of change impacts the human personality type it forms. Click to explore!

Points 4 - 5 - 6

The midway struggle involves deepening to gather needed resources to face the “death” of change, clarifying what is happening, and letting go into that which is greater. Type Fours long for evermore depth; Type Fives concentrate on perceiving clearly; and Types Sixes discern the reliable refuge for surrender.

Points 7 - 8 - 9

The lifecycle ends with celebrating new possibilities for acting and being, impacting others and the world positively, and integrating in a period of rest before initiating a new cycle. Type Sevens optimize the celebration; Type Eights make a big impact; and Type Nines connect all things.


Return to the Overview page and video to place your learning into the bigger context. The Living Enneagram offers fresh insights into how people and systems evolve through any lifecycle of change. Illustrations of this process in nature and society bring to light vivid nuances of the nine personality types.


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