Enneagram 3w4: The Guide

Written by Tim Branch

If you have ever:

  1. Wanted to stand out for a unique accomplishment or idea at work,
  2. Felt deeply that you are a big faker or an imposter,
  3. Identified with what you’ve read about Threes but you know you definitely have more feelings than a typical Three seems to have,
  4. Felt that the Home Depot slogan of “doers get more done” applies to you personally…

…then you might just be a Three with a Four wing (3w4).  

What Is a 3w4?

So what does it mean to be a 3w4? A Three with a Four wing is a Three with some extra…pizazz. 3w4s are more in touch with their feelings, more creative, artistic, and often more authentic in their words and actions than a 3w2

3w4s desire deeply to feel valued and be successful and they fear failure, even more so than 3w2s. 

What Does a 3w4 Look Like?

For starters, here’s a quick look at Threes and Fours, individually. 

Threes on the Enneagram are world-changers with the energy and enthusiasm to motivate and inspire those around them. They help others see who they could become, and empower them to grow in their unique gifts.

Meanwhile, Fours are the deepest feelers on the Enneagram. Their feelings are strong, vivid, and come in all shapes and sizes. One of the most defining characteristics of a Four: They are on a nonstop quest to understand who they are and what makes them unique, in order to find where they belong.

Threes and Fours are both in the heart triad and share the core emotion of shame. Where they differ is that Threes combat shame by achieving success, while Fours work overtime to be the most special snowflake to make others love them.

When these two numbers are meshed together into a 3w4, that core emotion of shame can multiply and feed the 3w4s deepest fear of being a big, fake failure.

The Struggles of a 3w4

Fear of failure pushes a 3w4 to work super hard to succeed in all things, but especially at work. No one is better at collecting gold stars than a 3w4 who is driven by their desire to succeed in the workplace. 

While this is an admirable trait, it can also backfire when 3w4s pour all their energy into winning in order to feel loved. They often find that being successful doesn’t make them feel more loved, it just means they have to keep being successful to feel worthy. This can lead to a never-ending performance for the 3w4.

One of my friends who is a 3w4 told me he often feels torn because as a performative Three he wants to be whatever people need him to be, but his Four wing is quick to call out any whiff of inauthenticity in him. This is a unique struggle for the 3w4. 

On the one hand you want to appear successful, smart, and together at all times. You find it easy to adapt and dazzle in any room. But you are also painfully aware of when you are performing. This can cause a 3w4 to fall into a shame spiral from which it can be difficult to escape. The solution? For a 3w4, it becomes imperative to never let anyone see you crack.

But 3w4s have a special superpower that is truly unique. 

The Unique Gifts of a 3w4

Threes are perceptive of the emotions of others but tend to ignore their own, while Fours have deep emotional wells, but often get exclusively wrapped up in their own emotional world. 

These tendencies combined, however, give the 3w4 the uncanny ability to read a room or a person quickly, and get to the heart of the situation.

 A 3w4 has all the perception of a Three, plus the depth of a Four, which makes them really good at seeing a situation for what it truly is, and offering up incredible wisdom or observations or advice.

A Four wing will also help an otherwise emotionally-avoidant Three tap into truer, deeper emotions. Where a Three will often ignore their emotions or set them aside as an inconvenience, a healthy 3w4 is able to recognize and sit with their emotions more comfortably. 

This is a valuable trait for the 3w4…because even Threes have feelings that need attending to, even if they would rather pretend they don’t.

How to Grow as a 3w4

If you’re reading this post and you’re thinking, “yep, this is me,” hear this: 

Your success is not what makes you loved. 

Sure, it’s good to get gold stars. You have invaluable skills that others around you appreciate immensely. In fact, I’d venture to say that there are people in your life who don’t know what they would do without your Energizer Bunny way of showing up and getting things done. 

But your value is not defined by your output or by what you bring to the table. You don’t have to be “on” in every single room you walk into. You are valuable and worthy of love because you are you.

It might take some time and effort for you to trust me when I say that, because all your life you’ve believed you have to perform to be worthy of love. 

Often we might know in our minds that performance does not equal love, but somehow our heart is still holding onto “performance” as a way to gain worthiness. 

How do you make that change?

I have a friend who likes to say the greatest thing that a Three can do is fail. 

If you’re a 3w4, I know you just squirmed a little bit. But hear me out: when you fail, you are able to look around and see who is still there; who still likes you for who you really are. 

Guess what? It’s probably way more people than you think. 

It is an intensely powerful experience, the moment a 3w4 stops trying to impress others…and realizes there’s a group of people that didn’t leave. 

Here’s a challenge for you: practice dropping your act every now and again. Especially with people you would consider close to you. Let them in, in little ways. See what happens.

If you struggle to believe the truth about yourself, check out this in-depth post about how Threes grow.