When I started this blog I figured it’d be a chill, fun way to offload some of my Type Five constant brain activity! I love the Enneagram and am super enthusiastic about the ways in which it leads us down paths of growth and change. I’ll still be doing nerdy, information posts, I promise! But… it’s been an amazing life/blog twist to begin to interview people. I’ve found you all are SO interesting. I’m excited to be able to provide a place for people to share about their Type and lives—a meeting spot where we can learn from each other about the Enneagram. Thank you to the 30+ people who responded to this last open call, and I can’t wait to hear about your unique life experiences. -Melissa
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
Today I’d like to welcome Dr. Drew Moser, an author, dean, professor, and an Enneagram Type Three. So happy to have you! Let’s get into it.
Life as a Type Three:
1. Three’s experience the world as a series of tasks or challenges to be overcome. Talk a little about how this shows up in your life.
I’m always prone to viewing life as one big “to-do” list. At times, it’s been to my advantage. It allows me to live a life motivated and inspired. It fueled my graduate work while having a young, large family (my wife and I have five kids). It’s fueled my writing while also working full time. That said, it’s hard for me as a Three to turn off, slow down, and be present in the moment. Without intentional work, practice, and effort, I easily look to what’s next and miss the beauty of what’s in the here and now.
2. How do you make decisions? From your gut, from your head, or from your heart? (Or any combination.)
I deeply resonate with Hurley and Donson’s work on the intelligence centers of the Enneagram, specifically within stances (Hornevian Groups). Their work has helped me understand an often confusing element of Threes. Firmly planted in the Heart Triad with Twos and Fours, Threes are paradoxically quite detached from their emotional center. We tend to start with the Heart Center, but quickly detach from it—or misuse it—and let the gut and head take over. Here’s how this looks practically: I can enter a room with a group of people and fairly quickly (and accurately) read the room. I can generally tell emotional states, social standing, etc. Instead of letting that knowledge turn to empathy, which would be a proper use of our heart center, I let it turn to strategy (head and gut). Thinking and doing crowd out the heart. I’m working more intentionally to allow my Heart Center to play a more authentic role in my decision making. There’s a wisdom to the emotional space within us, and I have to work very intentionally to cultivate it.
3. What happens to your closest relationships when you’re stressed and go to Arrow Type Nine? What happens to your relationships when you’re healthy and go to Arrow Type Six?
When I’m stressed and not handling it well, I find myself in the space of an unhealthy stereotype of Type Nine. My decisiveness wanes, my normal drive to achieve disappears, and I procrastinate. I struggle to do the very thing that needs to be done, often busying myself with other less important tasks. I then tend to withdraw from my relationships as an escape rather than rest.
When I’m flourishing, I see myself embodying much of what is so great about Type Six. I’m employing my skills and talents for the sake of the people I care about. I’m actively engaged in my relationships, looking to them for support and guidance (not natural for a Three), and my relationships are more authentic and less strategic.
4. How does the need for image and status play out in your daily life? Do you find yourself changing and adjusting to people and circumstances?
When I was younger, my chameleon-like tendencies were more pronounced. My ability and willingness to shapeshift to maintain image and status was very evident. The Enneagram has truly helped me recognize that left unchecked, I’m prone to fake it until I fake myself. As a Three, I’m still good at adapting to a room, but I’m trying to do this mindfully and more appropriately. Having a more authentic and clear sense of who I am has been very helpful.
5. What do you wish other people understood about being a Type Three?
Beneath the striving and the image-consciousness is a deep desire for value and worth. Threes, at the core, want to be loved for who they are, not what they do. But, we too often settle for achieving to impress. The thought of being ourselves without our accomplishments is scary for Threes . . . but also liberating.
6. Tell us about your Wing. Do you know what it is? How does it color your experiences as a Three?
I honestly don’t strongly identify with a Two or Four Wing. If I had to choose, my career has been marked by a strong helping bent (I’m in education, after all), so I think I’ve employed my 2w more. I like the notion that we can reach to our Wings for growth, and the thought of developing a strong 4w is intriguing: creativity, uniqueness, deeper emotional presence, etc.
7. What would the phrase, “I am loved as myself, even when I fail,” mean to you if you knew it to be deeply true?
Gah! This really is everything for a Three. As I seek to live in this truth, I’m more aware of the people in my life who believe this to be true about me. Also, I’m more likely to steward my achieving tendencies toward things that are more authentic, pure, and void of common strategic angles.
8. As a Type Three do you connect to spirituality? Are there any spiritual practices you participate in?
Any spiritual practice that slows me down and the only expectation is to simply “be” is helpful. I’ve found centering prayer and imaginative reading practices such as lectio divinato to be good. I also find writing to be really beneficial. It narrows my focus, paces me down from my frenetic tendencies.
Additionally, I’ve incorporated some “ordinary practices” that become more sacred spaces for me. A year ago I purchased a record player. Listening to vinyl keeps me in the room, and the music becomes more about presence than it is for background noise. Also, I recently acquired a used, but broken hot tub. I fixed it up, and it’s now an important rhythm for me to slow down, quiet my mind and body, and just be. Such slow, reflective spaces are silly but profound.
9. How do feelings show up in your life? Are you able to recognize and experience your feelings or do you suppress them?
They show up most prominently through the relationships I hold most dear: my wife, my five children, and my closest friends. Through some previous trials and tragedies in our family, I’ve been able to be more honest with my feelings. As a Three, I’ll always have a tendency to suppress my emotional center. But life has a way of exposing this. It’s hard, but a good lesson to learn.
10. Talk about what the words Authenticity, Be, and Pain mean to you today?
Authenticity – I think my younger self would’ve looked to others I admired for cues on how to be “authentic”. Now I know it’s within. Tending to my inner world is so important.
Be – The journey of growth for a Three (I can attest to this) is learning that we are human beings, not human doings. Learning to just “be” requires true presence void of the need for others to be impressed by what you do.
Pain – As a Type Three, my tendency is to avoid pain or dismiss it. Pain slows us down. But, I’ve learned that pain is a powerful teacher. It excavates the best and worst of us. Also, the pain-free life is an illusion, so we might as well steward our pain well.
Dr. Drew Moser is a writer, speaker, and consultant on vocation, the Enneagram, Millennials, and GenZ. He is a dean and professor at Taylor University (IN), and is the coauthor of Ready or Not: Leaning into Life in Our Twenties. He lives with his wife and five kids in Upland, Indiana.