The Enneagram's personality type Three is variously labelled as the Achiever, the Performer, the Catch, the Best. Threes are success oriented, image oriented. They're driven, efficient, and adaptable.
Madonna provides a shining example of this type in action.
She has said "I have the same goal I've had ever since I was a girl. I want to rule the world." Threes typically have this same drive to achieve, to climb, to become the best. They work at it. They put in the time, the effort. Madonna has also described herself as a workaholic. You don't get to be the best just by sitting at home and waiting for the world to recognize your greatness. You go out and get it. Make the world sit up and take notice.
Threes are adaptable. They can see what the dominant ideals are, and become that culture's vision of perfection. America has a very Three-ish culture altogether, especially potent in the 1980s. Wealth and achievement denote status. An artist's worth gets measured by their sales, their awards. Madonna encapsulated this particular zeitgeist in Material Girl.
Madonna knew what she was doing with this video: casting herself as the new Marilyn. For that iteration of her career, anyway. Before long, she changed her image. And then again. Whenever it seemed the world had had enough of her, she'd present a boundary-pushing video or book or album cover that the media couldn't resist condemning, praising, or simply reporting, and her continued fame earned her 1.2 billion dollars in sales in the first decade of her career, and a spot on Billboard's Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists, second only to the Beatles. And she'd started with no advantages - a working class Italian-American girl from Pontiac, Michigan.
But what's her message? Is there a recurrent theme in her music? Not really, other than the relentless promotion of her latest image, and herself overall. This belies Threes' greatest fear, that they aren't loveable or worthwhile for who they are, but only for what they accomplish. If they aren't achieving, if they aren't the best, they're nothing. But what happens when you win the big prize? You want the bigger prize. And the bigger one after that. It never stops. As Madonna said: "I won't be happy till I'm as famous as God." This hyperbolic statement really contains the sad admission that she will never be happy.
William Shatner faces these deep-seated feelings of inadequacy in his song It Hasn't Happened Yet - a collaboration with Ben Folds.
I was crossing the snow fields
in front of the capital building
it was christmas and i was alone
stangers for friends
I was broke
as the carillons sang its song
I dreamt of success
I would be the best
I would make my folks proud
I would be happy
It hasn't happened yet
It hasn't happened yet
It hasn't happened
Yes there are nods in my directions
Clap of hands
A knowing smile
I was scared again
I'm scared again
A healthy Three sees past the trappings of the material world and the belief that their accomplishments will fill the gap inside. As Riso and Hudson describe it, they become genuine, inspiring, self-accepting and modest - a true authentic person, no longer dependent on the accolades of others for their sense of worth and satisfaction.