Misidentifying Threes and Eights
Threes and Eights are both assertive (PT, 433-36), although the confusion between them centers on the competition found in average Threes and a similar competitiveness in average Eights.
In general terms, both Eights and Threes are ambitious and competitive: both types want to rise above others. The difference is that average Eights are self-assertive and want others to give them their way immediately so they do not have to waste time and energy fighting with people–not that they are afraid to do so. Eights compete for material and sexual dominance, less over purely social or status issues. For instance, Eights usually do not spend a lot of time comparing themselves with others, and certainly never to the degree that Threes do. For the same reason that Threes confuse themselves with Sevens and Fives (because they are looking for a flattering identity), it is far more likely that Threes identify themselves as Eights rather than vice versa.
Despite some superficial similarities, the differences are profound: Eights are leaders, deal makers, and power brokers who want to make the world conform to their personal vision. They want to have a large impact, to build and accomplish great things, possibly something that will live as a testament to the greatness of their audacity and will. Strong and implacable, they can be ruthless when something or someone gets in their way. They have large egos, and achieving some form of glory is important to them. Money is both a form of power and a means to amass more of it. Achieving personal power is the dominating drive in Eights, and there is nothing ambiguous, much less furtive or duplicitous, about them.
By contrast, power is not the key motive of Threes; achieving success and prestige and basking in the admiring attention of others is. (By contrast, Eights do not care about popularity; they do not care about the goodwill of others, so long as they get their way.) If Eights are natural leaders, Threes are natural managers and technicians. If Eights do not fear failure as such, Threes fear failure deeply because they see it as a personal humiliation, a potential occasion for being rejected, their deepest fear. By contrast, Eights see failure as an opportunity to learn something and come back stronger. If Eights are too busy achieving their purposes to worry about public opinion, Threes live and die on the opinions of others and desperately want to be in demand socially. If average Eights are combative and intimidating and can “take the heat”, despite a certain bravado, average Threes will back down or be driven to deviousness: they cannot take pressure for long or exposure for a moment. In short, even average Eights are the “genuine article,” whereas average Threes are an imitation of it. Contrast Eights such as Telly Savalas and John Wayne with Threes such as Sylvester Stallone and Burt Reynolds.