The 9 Enneagram Personality Types as Children’s Books Series: Type 3 as The Little Engine That Could

Enneagram Type 3: The Achiever as The Little Engine That Could


Type 3: “The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious” as defined by the Enneagram Institute.


If Twos are considered the “givers”, Threes would definitely be characterized as “the doers”. And what better literary example of strive, drive, and positivity, than The Little Engine That Could? In this classic children’s book, retold by Watty Piper and illustrated by George & Doris Hauman, a happy train filled with toys, treats and good food to eat stalls on its way up and over the mountain. On the other side of the mountain are good little children waiting, who will come to the happy train’s rescue?

Several other trains pass by, but all are either unable or unwilling to help to help the merry broken down band. At last comes a little blue engine, shiny and small. She sees that the happy train needs her help, and it becomes her mission to get them over the mountain. She knows that because she is small and not built to haul (accidentally rhyming now, been reading too many children’s books y’all), it will be a challenge. But the little blue engine is determined to give it her best effort and, hopefully, prove her worth. “The Achiever” is similarly motivated, with basic desire to feel valuable and worthwhile, and basic fear of being worthless. The little blue engine musters all of her energy and optimism, and with the book’s enduring mantra, “I think I can—I think I can—I think I can…” she succeeds!


“Threes really can and do achieve great things in the world. They are the ‘stars’ of human nature, and people often look up to them because of their graciousness and personal accomplishments. Healthy Threes know how good it feels to develop themselves and contribute their abilities to the world, and also enjoy motivating others to greater personal achievements than others thought they were capable of.” -the Enneagram Institute


The Little Engine That Could is inspiring to kiddos because she never gives up. Teaching our children perseverance and the importance of setting, and achieving goals, is illustrated so well in this book. I especially love that it is not just physical strength employed by the little blue engine, but the power of positive thinking. She is goal and solution oriented, sticks to her mantra, and most of all, believes in herself.

“Threes are often successful and well liked because, of all the types, they most believe in themselves and in developing their talents and capacities. Threes act as living ‘role models’ and paragons because of their extraordinary embodiment of socially valued qualities. Healthy Threes know that they are worth the effort it takes to be ‘the best that they can be.’ Their success at doing so inspires others to invest in their own self-development.” -the Enneagram Institute

Productivity in response to adversity is the trademark attitude of a Type 3. We can all learn from this story about motivation, confidence, and the power of perseverance, and the little engine who turned good intentions into helpful actions. For more information about Type 3 head to the Enneagram Institute and pick up a curbside copy of The Little Engine That Could from Book People!



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