Illustration of Enneagram Type 8: "The Challenger"

Enneagram Type 8

The Challenger

Assertive – Decisive – Protective

What is an Enneagram Type 8 Personality?

“Eights” can be powerful, selfless leaders, but also control and intimidate others.

Discover The Great Things About Enneagram Type 8

Eights are intense. Inside the Eight burns an unmatched level of energy. They are filled to the brim with the will to overcome any challenge – but also to challenge others to excel. That’s why we call them Challengers. Eights are natural leaders who can persuade others to follow them towards all kinds of things, from running a household to running a country. Fiercely independent, they aren’t easily swayed by the opinions of others. Eights know that life rarely gives you anything for free, so they are used to teaching themselves how to get what they need. They are direct, honest and don’t shy away from confrontation. While this makes them seem intimidating to those who challenge them, Eights also have a fierce passion to protect those who are vulnerable and weak.

Key Motivation

Eights want to feel strong and in control so they can protect themselves and those they love. Their fear of being powerless and weak, of being manipulated and taken advantage of, let’s them build up a tough exterior that promises them to make them invulnerable.

The Worst, The Best, and The Average of Enneagram Type 8

Your personality isn’t a fixed thing. People grow. While we don’t change our basic personality (as much as some of us would like that), we all can become more mature and healthy inside our personality. But at times, we also revert to less healthy behavior. This looks different for every personality type. Let’s see how it unfolds for Eights.

Average Type 8s

Average Eights project power and toughness. They have a will to dominate, and they like confrontations, especially since they are used to winning them. Eights respect people who meet them eye to eye, but often feel contempt for those who surrender too quickly to their will. They can work hard and long, taking their health and strength for granted, but often losing touch with the emotional connections in their life along the way.

Beneath this layer of emotional armor lies a profound vulnerability. But average Eights are afraid to talk about this, for fear of being rejected and misunderstood. Their urge to stay in control, their competitiveness and intimidating aura – they’re all there to make sure the child inside of them will never be scared or harmed again. That’s why they feel such compassion (and rage) when they see other innocent and helpless people become victims of injustice, but also why they can get carried away by their own aggression. Eights will do everything to protect themselves and those they care about from being hurt.

Key Challenge

The key challenge of Eights is an excess of desire that in the past has usually been simply called „lust“: The lust for power, for domination and winning, for having absolute control over themselves and their surroundings. It stems from their biggest fear of being disempowered or controlled, being exploited and defenseless.

Unhealthy Type 8s

Since protecting themselves is their core desire, Eights who don’t know how to achieve this in healthy ways turn to cruder tools: aggression and pushing back against anything that seems threatening. Unhealthy Eights are the first to resort to violence – physical or verbal – to defend themselves, especially if they haven’t learned anything else.

Should their confrontational methods eventually reach a limit, they retreat and start rejecting people in an attempt to not be rejected first. Their fighting spirit turns into cynicism and brooding contempt. Unhealthy Eights become increasingly sensitive to any perceived violation of their self-respect and authority and shut down by hardening themselves against pain, almost like turning themselves into rocks. It’s the famous tough on the outside, soft on the inside dilemma.

Healthy Type 8s

When Eights are healthy, their strength turns into honor and groundedness. They no longer seek justice only for themselves, but for others, too. They no longer fear that control could be taken away from them, which makes them more able to give it up willingly. Being vulnerable is no longer perceived as a threat, but as a gift that allows them to become gracious with themselves and others.

Since they’re not afraid of taking heat for their decisions, healthy Eights use their commanding presence and assertiveness – but also their compassion – to build something better for everyone without playing favorites. The world has already been permanently changed by the courage, compassion and strength of men and women like Indira Ghandi, Oskar Schindler and Martin Luther King Jr.

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All 9 Enneagram Personality Type Descriptions


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What is the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a pretty amazing tool to help people understand themselves and others better. It does that by describing the nine principle ways of how people view the world and how their particular worldview shapes their personalities. It has already helped millions of people around the world discovering who they are, why they do the things they do and – most importantly – how to use this knowledge to grow as a person.

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