Described as the “GPS” of wisdom, the Enneagram system of personality has been gaining popularity over the last decade. The Enneagram suggests that our experience in life is dictated largely by where our attention goes. The system outlines nine distinct “habits of attention,” and these habits of attention are correlated with personality traits. When you understand the Enneagram, you understand yourself and those around you better.
Seeing the Enneagram applied to famous people is a great way to bring the system alive, so below I’ve mapped the nine personality styles to nine famous people. And while we cannot know with complete certainty the Enneagram number of someone who has not confirmed their type themselves, I outline behavioral traits that correlate to each of the nine personality styles.
Type 1: The Perfectionist: attention goes to what needs improvement or correction.
“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”
~Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX
Elon Musk has an idealistic mission: to save the human race. Striving to make space travel accessible to the average person, Elon’s goal is to send one million people to Mars and make it habitable as a second planet. Orderly and self-disciplined, with a relentless work ethic, Musk is known for his organized thinking, his powerful intellect, and his tendency to work 100-hour weeks. It’s not all roses—Musk is reported to be harsh and unnecessarily critical at times.
Type 2: The Helper: attention goes to how to be helpful, useful, or likeable to others.
“The ultimate source of happiness is not money and power but warm-heartedness.”
~Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream
Big-hearted with a focus on others, Cohen likes to say that business has a responsibility to give back to the community, and he backs this up. Under his leadership, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream instituted a policy to donate 7.5% of the company’s profits to nonprofit charities nationwide. Ben himself is known for being humble, generous, and kind. Placing an emphasis on personal relationships, he’s maintained a strong friendship with his business partner, Jerry Greenfield, from when they met in high school over 50 years ago.
Type 3: The Achiever: attention goes to how to be successful, particularly in the eyes of others.
“People are not lazy. They just have goals that do not inspire them.”
~Tony Robbins, motivational speaker, author of “Awaken the Giant Within” and “Unlimited Power”
Known for his ability to motivate and see the potential in others, Robbins makes goal-setting his platform and pushes everyone to be the best version of themselves. Image-conscious, charismatic, pragmatic, and achievement-oriented, Robbins counsels people to develop self-esteem by pushing themselves to do something really hard. He embodies Type 3 values with the belief that hard work and achievement are the paths to personal happiness.
Type 4: The Individualist: attention goes to what is missing and to authentic expression.
“I want to put a ding in the universe.”
“It’s better to be a pirate than to join the Navy.”
~Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple
With the Apple tagline “Think Different,” it is easy to see the drive to be original and innovative that characterized Steve Jobs’ management style. Famous for his mercurial temperament and wide range of emotions, Jobs could swing between extreme emotional kindness to rage in a single hour. Jobs sought authenticity and when he commissioned his own biography, he was clear he wanted a complete depiction of his character. He didn’t want to look good, he wanted to be real.
Type 5: The Investigator: attention goes to self-sufficiency, conserving resources, and gaining knowledge.
“I believe in innovation, and the way you get innovation is you fund research, and you get basic facts.”
~Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corporation
Intense, cerebral, research-oriented and, at moments, robotic, the co-founder of Microsoft admitted to creating a “pros and cons” analysis before deciding to propose to his wife, Melinda. Facts and logic lead the way in the mind of Gates, and his ability to maintain deep focus has led to numerous inventions and creations including Microsoft Corporation and the Windows platform. Insatiably curious with a drive to continually learn, he takes annual reading vacations and studies deeply the areas that hold his interest.
Type 6: The Loyalist: attention goes to danger and threats to security.
“You need to plan the way a fire department plans: it cannot anticipate where the next fire will be, so it has to shape an energetic and efficient team that is capable of responding to the unanticipated as well as to an ordinary event.”
~Andy Groves, CEO of Intel and author of “Only The Paranoid Survive”
Constantly scanning for threats, Grove’s guiding motto was “only the paranoid survive.” Famous for his discipline and detail-oriented nature, Grove honed in on finer points and subtle threats other leaders might have missed. Modest and egalitarian, Grove worked in a small office cube despite being the CEO of Intel. Under his leadership, there were no reserved parking spaces, and Grove parked just like all the other Intel employees. Ever loyal, he married his wife Eva in 1958 and stayed married until his death in 2016.
Type 7: The Enthusiast: attention goes to the positive, the new and the exciting.
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity, but you are not sure you can do it, say yes-then learn how to do it later!”
~Richard Branson, founder of The Virgin Group
Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, has a gift for connecting seemingly unrelated things and under his leadership, the conglomerate controls over 400 companies ranging from record stores to airlines. Bold and optimistic, Branson maintains a buoyantly positive attitude even in the face of business failure. He embodies the Type 7 positive reframe with his motto: “The secret to bouncing back is not only to be unafraid of failures but to use them as motivational and learning tools.”
Type 8: The Challenger: attention goes to power and power dynamics.
“You can do a lot more with weapons and politeness than just politeness.”
~Vladmir Putin, President and former Prime Minister of Russia
The power-wielding President of Russia is famous for his alpha-male image: he works out for two hours a day, flies military planes, rides motorcycles, tranquilizes tigers and polar bears and drives race cars. Direct, confrontational and intense, Putin is highly aware of power dynamics and is willing to flex his muscle as the power center of Russia. And true to form with many Type 8s, he loves animals and is a devoted owner to his four dogs Buffy, Yume, Verni and Pasha.
Type 9: The Peacemaker: attention goes to harmony and maintaining a peaceful environment.
“Silence is sometimes the best answer.”
~the 14th Dalai Lama
Seeking harmony, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people has been calling for peaceful, nonviolent resistance since he first began leading his government in exile in 1959. Loved throughout the world for his acceptance of others, the Dalai Lama preaches the flexible and open-minded philosophy that your religion of choice doesn’t matter as long as you follow the truth with an open mind.