Is success really for you?

Jennifer White's title on the cover of her book, Work Less, Make More, is that of Success Coach and Syndicated Columnist.

The book is well written, full of sage advice on how to work better, work smarter, organize yourself, use your strengths, cover your weaknesses, and make lots of money. But Jennifer White does not have a clue as to how hard it will be for some/most people to take her advice. She assumes that other people want what she wants as badly as she wants it and are willing to work as hard as she is willing to work to get it.

Jennifer White is a Three. She is oblivious to alternative definitions of success. She assumes an identical value system in each of her readers. The cultural support for her Three trance and the financial rewards of it are all she needs to know she is "right." "Works for me," is not just a cliché, it is a mantra.

She understands some of the pitfalls of being a successful Three and assumes we all have those same ones. She has an entire section on "Power relationships," another on "Overload," and an especially poignant one on "Handling the Time Machine."

The machine age

Handling the Time Machine is a revelatory title. Threes often see themselves as machines: race cars, airplanes, or the like. They create a great deal of stress for themselves and others when they "drive themselves," too hard. They drive themselves because they lack a sense of the organic rhythms of life when they operate out of the machine metaphor.

Her suggestions are simple, clear -- and mechanical. She has her clients have three kinds of days: High Focus days (on your most important work), Support Days (administrivia) and Free Days for rest and recreation. Threes can probably do that, if they are in a favorable corporate environment where they are in control of their lives. How about a mother, a welder, a gardener, a research chemist?

Threes see time as a container which one fills with accomplishments. So making the most of your time feels like getting the most done. (Every time management book I've read, and I used to teach it) is written by a Three telling the rest of us how to be a Three.) But Twos don't measure success by accomplishment. They measure it by satisfaction in relationships. And Fives aren't nearly as worried about accomplishment as they are about the smartest accomplishment. Telling Nines to take charge of their life, organize it in three types of days is - well, good luck. Actually I recommend this book and others like it to Nines, these strategies are excellent for enabling Nines to move to the high side of Three. Her book will be valuable for anyone (like procrastinating Sixes, for example) who need to get off dead center and get to work.

Being a Three in the USA is protective coloration

The reason Jennifer gets away with, is approved and appreciated for, this fine little book, is that America is such a Three culture, especially the corporate section -- and this will help people fit into the culture better.

Jennifer White is not a neurotic Three, as far as I can tell. She has a lot of warnings about burnout, overload, dealing with stress etc. that go with being a Three. If you are a Three, much of the book is redundant, but much of it is advice on how to handle the downside of your number. At the end of the book (p. 227) she has a section that could have been lifted out of a lot of Enneagram books. It is entitled, "Base Your Life On Who You Are, Not What You Do." This is crucial advice for a Three, but is irrelevant to an Eight or a Five, for example. Only a Three would have thought to include this advice so prominently.

Sometimes her "marketing orientation," as Naranjo likes to call the Three energy, gets really blatant. Imagine yourself a distinguished and distinguishing Four, my favorite kind, reading this passage as a suggested North Star:

"A vital part of Work Less, Make More is making sure you focus your talents around something that people want to buy. It's important you grow in a way that brings you new profits. Adds more value. Makes you unique in the marketplace. Having talent is not the issue--we all have unique gifts and talents. The key is honing what you do well that people will pay for." (p. 59)

As commercial advice, that's lovely. But if that is advice on how to live your life, which it feels like, it is what we call over identification with your role. Read the passage again as a Seven and feel how heavy it seems. Notice the center of gravity. It is not in the quality of the experience, nor in personal development, nor in (my personal skew) the pleasure of the task.

The center of gravity is what others will pay for. That's not all wrong. Business without customers, labor without employers and even flowers without birds are all futile. But the focus on marketing yourself is sharper than other Enneagram styles can handle.

Well, I need to go rest. The unrelenting enthusiasm, action orientation and dedication to tangible results threatens and tires someone who spent several years getting a degree in philosophy.