I’ve been wondering what the Enneagram numbers are of our two candidates and what they means about our choices in the election. Although you’re not supposed to pin a number on another person, when someone is as much in the public eye as a presidential nominee, it’s pretty clear to Enneagram experts what number they are. So I asked around in the Enneagram community and found out that they’re a consensus on Mitt Romney’s and Barack Obama’s numbers.
Mitt Romney is a Three. Other famous Threes in politics are George Washington, Bill Clinton, and Condoleezza Rice.
So I asked Suzanne Stabile*, my personal Enneagram guru, to write up something about Threes, and here’s what she sent in:
Thanks to Tony for the invite to share some Enneagram wisdom about Threes. It is always a gift for me to talk about this great spiritual tool and all that it has to teach us about ourselves while challenging us to see others as they are rather than as we are. Threes are ambitious, self-confident, success oriented, image conscious and focused. The United States is the symbolic country of the Three so we all have a bit of Three in us and in some parts of the country; in Dallas, if one is a Three it’s like being an alcoholic who lives above the bar. Dallas is consumed with image, media, status and success.
Threes along with Sixs and Nines are the primary types of the Enneagram. They represent the core fixations at the heart of the human condition. In that sense they are universal. Healthy Threes embody ideal qualities that most of us respect and hope to emulate. They are optimistic and generous and likeable, but they are hard to know. When they take on leadership roles they usually have no desire to dominate or enforce an abstract ideal; which is to say they generally lead from the heart and work for something they truly believe in.
Enneagram teaching connects each of the nine personality types to a passion. The passions are comprised of the seven deadly sins plus two. The passion of the Three is deceit, which is not actually lying. It is the Three’s desire to be the poster child for whatever organization they represent: the ideal candidate for a political party, the ideal father, the perfect multi-tasking mother, top insurance salesman, mega church pastor…the list is endless. Threes find out what is desired by their “audience” and then they become that. To them it is about giving us what we want. The problem is they sometimes lose touch with who they really are.
This ability to alter again and again leads Threes to be more cynical and suspicious than other numbers. Since they are able to subtly and even unconsciously change their self-presentation to appeal to a particular person or audience, they naturally think we can do the same.
Threes pursue their goals with determination. They are good at networking and they are socially competent. When they are stressed and immersed in doing, they can become glib and superficial.
Success guides Threes, and without it they are unable to believe in themselves which renders them unable to believe in others as well. In these times there may be some confusion about image and substance and the relationship between reality and appearance. Their orientation to time is the future so they are always looking ahead to the next task and if there is no well-defined goal they find themselves without energy and direction. Threes are prone to self-promotion and interest promotion. They are good at selling what and who they believe in. In learning to make it their business to become what others find valuable they are the prototype of American success: aggressive, trendy, smart, efficient, effective and energetic. They would rather say too little than too much and while they sometimes make enemies in the forward rush, they apologize later.
Threes want to be affirmed. They like attention and want to distinguish themselves from others. They want to be admired and they often are.
S0, as a voter, you can make of that what you will. Coming on Wednesday: Barack Obama’s Enneagram number.