From Business Executive to Dream Job – Guest Blog

Read more about Ginger on pages 72 and 283

My type is “Achiever” and I am an Assistant Professor at the University of California – Berkeley. Being an Achiever has certainly helped my career, mostly in the sense that it helped me change careers. I used to be a business executive, a job that was challenging and rewarding in many ways, including financially, but not satisfying to me personally. I had always thought I would be a great university professor but it seemed so crazy to leave such a great job, and one that I enjoyed, in order to chase after a dream job that would definitely be very hard to get. Becoming a university professor in my field meant going to graduate school for five or six years to earn my Ph.D., and then competing with literally *hundreds* of other Ph.D.s for a scant handful of tenure-track faculty positions. I knew that the odds were against me – they were against my getting into a top Ph.D. program (which are extremely competitive), and even if I managed to get into a great graduate school and do well, the odds were very much against my getting to be an Assistant Professor at a top research university. Hardly *anyone* in my field gets a faculty job of any kind, let alone a tenure-track professorship at an R1 institution.

But being an Achiever, I decided something. I decided that even if only five people ever got the kind of job I wanted in the field I wanted, *I* could be one of those five people. In other words, my fundamental assumption changed from “I can never get one of those jobs!” to “I can definitely be one of the very few people that can get one of those jobs.” After all, I had a strong track record of achieving goals that many people had thought impossible (getting into the college of my choice, winning prizes there that were only awarded to a select few students, turning a low-paying job into a high-paying one, getting all of the promotions and opportunities that I wanted in my career). So why couldn’t I achieve what I felt was my greatest dream for my working life, which was to get into a fabulous doctoral program and then get a terrific job at a top college?

My mindset helped me do what I needed to make my career dreams come true.  I look around me and see so many people discouraged from even trying to get the kinds of jobs they really want, and know they can be really great at. I feel like the biggest difference between the people who don’t try to get their ideal jobs and me (as an example of someone who went after my career dream and who succeeded) was my fundamental knowledge that I can achieve what I want to achieve. That certainty is just a part of me – a part of my personality. I think that’s what the enneagram is about – it gives people a way of articulating basic, elemental aspects of their personality that other kinds of articulations (like horoscope signs or something like that) don’t really get at. In my case, being an Achiever, I know that I can go after what I want and, as long as I work hard at it and keep my focus, I can get it. Nothing else explains that part of me as well as the enneagram. Being an Achiever just seems to be written into the fabric of my being.

– By Ginger

Famous People’s Types

Oprah, An Achiever

Week after week the most popular page on is the Famous Types page. I list about 140 famous people, living and dead, and a few movie, TV, and literature characters along with what I have guessed to be their Enneagram and/or MBTI(TM) types.

In “The Career Within You” Ingrid Stabb and I suggest six to eight famous people for each type to help newcomers to the Enneagram get a clearer idea of each personality. Renee Baron and I included a list of famous couples for each Enneagram type in “Are You My Type, Am I Yours?” We didn’t list any in “The Enneagram Made Easy.” There are several famous introverts in my “Happy Introvert,” including a chapter on the movie character, Napoleon Dynamite.

A person’s type is best determined by the person himself/herself. But with famous people, we don’t get the chance to ask them their type. As a newcomer to both systems, the game of trying to guess acquaintances’ and famous people’s types was part of my learning experience, however, and I assume others do this too. It’s important to keep guesses of people you know to yourself, not only because you might be wrong, but also because searching for our own type is an important part of the experience.

The lookalikes that stir up the most controversy on my Famous Types page and among Enneagram teachers are the 8-Asserters vs. the Counterphobic 6-Questioners. 3-Achievers are also sometimes mixed up with 8-Asserters. I’ve received aggressive letters about these kinds of things. It’s not worth being rude about, though—the Enneagram is about getting to know ourselves and to be able to accept others. It’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong about someone who isn’t there to defend his decision. Another interesting thing about the Enneagram is when someone thinks she is a certain type and other people disagree. Possibly she knows herself better than they do or she isn’t ready to accept that she’s the type she really is. We 5-Observers often learn (by studying the Enneagram) that we’re pretty obsessed to want to know everything. When we “get” this, we can often let go about whether we’re right or not. We realize, hopefully, we don’t want to be invasive because we don’t like being invaded ourselves. We still love information, but we’re training ourselves not to think and say “I know!” all the time.

If you disagree with my guesses on my Famous Types page, let me know by sending me a message in a “comment” to this blog or on Facebook. I’ll take your opinion and any additions you suggest seriously.