An introduction to the nine archetypes described in the Enneagram map
The Enneagram teaches that we have three different systems that provide us with information, commonly referred to as centers of intelligence.
When we are balanced, we have equal access to the wisdom of all three centers. But one center tends to dominate our reality, and shapes our archetype’s strengths and challenges.
Seek power and strength to avoid feeling weak or dependent. Impassioned intensity for autonomy. Fundamental need to be against.
Protector: Feel most alive when exercising their enormous willpower and vitality in the world. Use their abundant energy to keep others or the environment from hurting them or those they care about. Generous with those who are vulnerable or in their inner circle.
Challenger: Enjoy taking on challenges and giving others opportunities that challenge them to go beyond themselves. Not afraid to confront or test boundaries, or to expand them when they are too restrictive.
Boss: Often a charismatic leader with the ability to persuade others to follow them into all kinds of endeavors. A bias for action helps them move projects forward.
At their best, they are self-mastering and use their strength to improve others’ lives, becoming heroic, generous, and inspiring.
Seek harmony to avoid conflict by keeping the peace and merging with others. Fundamental need to avoid.
Peacemaker: Devoted to the quest for internal and external peace for self and others.
Mediator: Work to maintain their peace of mind just as they work to establish peace and harmony in the world. Believe that to be loved and valued, they must blend in and go with the flow.
Connector: Inclusive, amiable, easygoing, comfortable, and steady. Can also be self-forgetting, conflict-avoidant, and stubborn.
At their best, they are unshakeable and all-embracing, able to bring people together and heal conflicts.
Seek integrity to live life the right way and to avoid fault and blame. Strive for principled excellence as a moral duty. Fundamental need to be perfect.
Perfectionist: Highly self-controlled and structured. Strives for 100% excellence. Meticulous, hardworking, and reliable.
Moralist: Believe that there is almost always a right way to do things and that they must be good and right to be worthy.
Reformer: Want a more perfect world and works relentlessly to improve themselves, others, and everything around them. Can be critical, resentful, and self-judging.
At their best, they are wise, discerning, realistic and noble - even morally heroic.
Seek connection to avoid acknowledging their own needs. Strive for lavish love through self-sacrifice. Fundamental need to be needed and loved.
Helper: Want to be liked and try to meet the needs of others. Will attempt to orchestrate the people and events in their lives. Can be prideful, intrusive, and demanding.
Giver: Warm-hearted, caring, and naturally giving. Believe they must give fully to others in order to be loved.
Befriender: Relationship-oriented and naturally drawn to having a deep connection to others. Supportive but can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing.
At their best, they are unselfish and altruistic and have unconditional love for others.
Seek value to avoid failure at all costs. Strive for appreciative recognition through curated success. Fundamental need to succeed.
Achiever: Industrious, fast-paced, efficient, and goal-oriented. Believe they must accomplish and succeed to be loved. Wired for productivity.
Performer: Adaptable, self-assured, put together, and charming.
Status seeker: Success-oriented and image conscious. Can be impatient and inattentive to feelings.
At their best, they are self-accepting and authentic role models who inspire others.
Seek identity and authenticity. Fundamental need to be special or unique.
Individualist: Introspective, self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. Idealistic, deeply feeling, empathetic, and authentic. They are emotionally honest and typically struggle with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity.
Romantic: Believe they can regain a perfect state by finding love (or a situation) that is unique, special, and fulfilling. Long for emotional connection and a deeply felt experience of relationship. Tendency to want what they can’t have. Can withhold themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective. Sometimes feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. Can be moody and self-conscious.
Artist: Creative, expressive, and dramatic. Can also be self-absorbed and temperamental.
At their best, they are inspired and highly creative, able to renew themselves and transform their experiences.
Seek clarity through thoughtful conclusions. Motivated to gain knowledge, conserve their energy, and avoid relying on other people. Fundamental need to perceive or understand.
Observer: Alert, perceptive, and insightful person who prefers to observe what is going on rather than be in the middle of it. Tend to be very private and need significant time alone. They use emotional detachment as a way of keeping involvement with others to a minimum and conserving their energy. Believe they must protect themselves from a world that demands too much and gives too little.
Investigator: A natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge drives them to understand why things are the way they are. Able to concentrate on developing complex ideas and skills, but can be detached, yet high-strung and intense.
Innovator: Independent, innovative, and inventive, they can also become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. Can be eccentric and lean toward isolation.
At their best, they are visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way.
Seek guidance. Strive for steady consistency through confident loyalty. Fundamental need to be certain or secure.
Loyalist: Committed, reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy. They are good friends and problem-solvers, but also reactive, defiant, and rebellious at times.
Contrarian: Worst-case scenario thinkers motivated by fear. Believe they must gain certainty and security in a hazardous world that they just can’t trust. Tend to play devil’s advocate and be highly skeptical and indecisive. They are cautious and typically have problems with self-doubt and suspicion.
Guardian: Excellent troubleshooters, they foresee problems and foster cooperation. They are insightful, practical and witty, but can also become defensive, evasive, and anxious – running on stress while complaining about it.
At their best, they are internally stable and self-reliant, courageously championing themselves and others.
Seek freedom to avoid difficult feelings. Strive for imaginative freedom and inspirational independence. Fundamental need to avoid pain.
Enthusiast: Fun, spontaneous, and adventurous. Constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can misapply their many talents, becoming over-extended, scattered, and undisciplined.
Epicure: Appreciate the finer things in life. Seek out the most pleasurable options. Typically have problems with impatience and impulsiveness. They try to avoid pain and can be uncommitted and self-serving.
Dreamer: Believe they must stay upbeat and keep their possibilities open to assure a good life. Thus they are optimistic and adventurous, always planning stimulating experiences.
At their best, they focus their talents on worthwhile goals, becoming appreciative, joyous, and satisfied.
Each Enneagram archetype is really a system of three types - one archetype is dominant, and it is linked to a type you tend to reach for in stress, and a type you reach for when you feel more secure. I’ve included colored arrows for each type to help you see this visually.
The types adjacent to your dominant archetype are referred to as wings, and can describe the natural variation that occurs in human nature. Not everyone identifies with a specific wing, but it is important to know that you may borrow strategies from the archetypes on either side of your dominant type.
Note: While I prefer not to use names for each of the archetypes because I find them too limiting, I’ve included them in the descriptions because they are so familiar. Be careful that they don’t paint a caricature in your mind - they are meant to be a starting point for your exploration.