Enneagram Type 8s, also known as the Challenger, is preoccupied with authority and control. Challengers are self-motivated, capable, and fearless trailblazers who pride themselves on their independence. They refuse to allow themselves to be influenced by others and chafe at the idea of anyone else exerting power over them. They are confident in their abilities and firm in their convictions, unwilling to let the thoughts of others sway where they stand on an issue.
At their best, Type 8s are full of vitality, capable of great things, and able to use their assertiveness and strength to protect those they care about. At their worst, they become closed off and unwilling to trust or be open with the people around them. They can be terrible workaholics, taking on more and more and pushing themselves to the point of physical exhaustion and sickness. They prefer to be in charge, think in absolutes, and believe they are the experts, disliking being told what to do. However, their belief in themselves is not unfounded – when given the chance, 8s make excellent leaders, taking the initiative, never shirking from hard work, and always leading by example.
To learn more about the Challenger, see below for an overview of Type 8 characteristics and the type’s variants, wings, and directions of growth and stress. We’ve also included information about the ideal Type 8 work environment, the types they are most and least compatible with, and a list of some notable Type 8s.
Below, we’ve listed some of the key traits of Enneagram Type 8, the Challenger.
Type 8s are:
- Type 8s prefer to go their own way and do not readily submit to authority.
- Type 8s are direct and focused on what they want, to the point that they may come off as aggressive or even controlling.
- Type 8s take initiative and make things happen for themselves, refusing to be seen as weak or vulnerable in any situation.
- Type 8s pride themselves on their industrious nature and work hard for everything they get.
- Closed off
- Type 8s avoid being controlled by others but, in doing so, close off avenues for healthy vulnerability and, therefore, intimacy.
At base, a person’s Enneagram type is a description of their core motives, specific desires, and fears that drive that type’s behavior. Where a type’s desires represent their ideal existence, they fear a life where they are incapable of meeting that ideal.
Each Enneagram type has an associated core fear. The traits associated with a type develop through instinctive avoidance of said fear.
The core fear of the Challenger is powerlessness. Type 8s fear being weak and vulnerable to the control of others. They chafe under any restrictions and respond poorly when others try to exert authority over them.
Each Enneagram type’s core desire corresponds to and is an inverse of their core fears.
The core desire of the Challenger is independence and self-reliance. Type 8s have a deep-seated need to feel in control of themselves, their lives, and their surroundings. They place independence above all else.
Type 8s are tenacious, deeply capable individuals who take on big challenges with vigor and discipline. Their emphasis on independence comes paired with vast inner reserves of energy that allow them to practice what they preach and pursue their goals without being beholden to others.
- However, this doesn’t mean that 8s are loners or misanthropes. Their strong moral center and deep respect for others means that they’re always willing to fight for their beliefs and protect those who are not able to protect themselves. Because they don’t fear confrontation, they are extremely formidable opponents when called upon to protect the people closest to them.
When their desire for independence goes too far, Type 8s can easily find themselves disconnected from others and on the outskirts of society. Their emphasis on being “strong” sometimes makes Type 8s unwilling to be vulnerable to the point of emotional unavailability. They worry people are going to dislike or reject them, and because of this they rush to beat others to the punch and reject them first, isolating themselves as a form of protection.
While their forthright nature and assertiveness may help them get what they want, it can also serve to make them come off as intimidating and rude. In fact, Type 8s can be both of those things. When they believe people are trying to control them, Type 8s have trouble controlling their tempers, becoming sullen, domineering, and outright aggressive in response.
Directions of Growth and Stress
The nine personality types of the Enneagram model are not rigid descriptions of behavior. While a person’s base type does not change, their personality evolves and even takes on traits from other types in response to changing circumstances in their life.
In the Enneagram diagram, each type is connected to two others which represent that type’s typical directions of stress and growth.
Growth Arrow to Two
At their most high-functioning, Type 8s may “move towards” Enneagram 2, the Helper. This means that Challengers experiencing growth may adopt some of the positive traits of the Helper alongside the familiar positive traits of a Type 6.
An Enneagram 8 moving in the direction of growth will:
- Maintain emotional awareness and work to express their feelings.
- Value their relationships and embrace vulnerability and empathy.
- Find balance in their life and make time for rest and relaxation.
- Channel their intensity into pursuits that benefit their well-being.
The Challenger will always be a Type 8 at their core, but a healthy 8 that is moving towards growth will be able to channel and make use of these Type 2 strengths in their own way.
Stress Arrow to Five
When stressed, Challengers may take on negative traits of an unhealthy Enneagram 5, the Investigator.
An Enneagram 8 moving in the direction of stress may:
- Struggle with compassion, oppressing and overpowering others through their intensity and ruthlessness.
- Adopt a pessimistic outlook and dwell on the negatives.
- Get stuck in their own mind and become unable to be present at the moment.
- Hate being around other people to the point that they completely isolate themselves.
Some variations on the Enneagram model refer to the three instincts, meaning the self-preservation instinct, the sexual instinct, and the social instinct. All three are inherent human instincts, but every person prioritizes them differently, with their main priority being their “dominant” instinct. Understanding the interplay between your dominant instinct and your Enneagram type can provide helpful insights into your personality and behavior.
The self-preservation (SP) instinct pertains to our need for personal safety and security.
SP 8s fulfill their desire for independence by gaining authority, prestige, and, occasionally, material prosperity. They aspire to possess and exercise control over as many resources as they can to uphold their autonomy and dominance.
Because they approach life with tough-minded objectivity, 8s make excellent entrepreneurs and leaders. When they put their minds on a goal, they do whatever it takes to achieve it without any complaint or explanation. In addition, they are the least expressive of the eight subtypes.
The social (SO) instinct pertains to our need to be part of a community and to feel like we belong.
SO 8s enjoy living lavishly and are always ready for the next social gathering They value friendship and loyalty, and they are prepared to go to tremendous lengths for the people and causes that are close to them. Any topic where they may confidently express their thoughts and engage in disputes excites them.
SO 8s can’t quite comprehend how others can get offended or overwhelmed by the intensity of their beliefs. They can try to tone things down but won’t feel comfortable enough staying silent about something they truly believe in.
The sexual (SX) instinct pertains to our sexuality and our personal relationships.
SX 8s have a magnetic personality and strong emotions. They look for intensity in relationships, and their life’s ups and downs are frequently interpreted in terms of relationships. The goal of the SX 8s is to leave a lasting impression on their partner. They enjoy extreme stimulation and can get addicted to adrenaline rushes, whether we talk about romantic interests or hobbies.
They often see their partner as a child they want to mold and grow, which can lead to multiple issues. A large part of this stems from the SX 8s desire for the partner to be strong so they can eventually unwind and relinquish control.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Enneagram 8s
Because people change in response to life circumstances, there is no single defined set of behaviors that mark out an Enneagram 8. Loyalists will display different facets of their personalities in their average state versus at times when they feel healthier or more unhealthy.
Signs of a Healthy Challenger
- They invest in their relationships and become more open and compassionate with others.
- They stay grounded and don’t feel the need to assert themselves or try to control others constantly.
- They stand up for what they believe in and fight the injustices they encounter.
- They pride themselves on their ability to improve the world and the lives of others.
Signs of an Average Challenger
- Practical and put a premium on having enough resources.
- Dominate the environment by convincing others of how indispensable they are.
- Extremely competitive and will not back down to get their way.
- Put their walls up high every now and then out of fear of being perceived as weak.
Signs of an Unhealthy Challenger
- Construct emotional barriers to keep their feelings safe, so they come across as distant and unfeeling.
- Have delusional beliefs that they are powerful and invincible.
- Get violent and vengeful when others do not surrender to what they want.
- Lost in their heads and struggle with being in the present moment.
Personal Growth Recommendations for Enneagram 8s
- Learn to yield to others. Allow other people to pursue their interests without compromising your own. To have an insatiable need for absolute power is indicative of a growing sense of self-importance. This foretells future conflict with other people on a more serious scale.
- Focus more on inspiring people. You will feel more empowered when you make people feel good about themselves. You’re at your best when you step up and help everyone out when things go wrong.
- Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Being loving is a sign of strength, not of weakness. Although there is a chance of being fooled, letting down one’s guard is the only way to find true happiness.
- Be more mindful of how you feel. You don’t have to act on how you feel. Take note of how often you feel the want to binge or seek vengeance, but remember that you are in no way obligated to act on these impulses. Yoga, breathing meditation, and journaling are all helpful mindfulness techniques.
Enneagram 8 Wings
The numbers on either side of an Enneagram type are known as the “wings” of that type. While people will display traits from all nine types at different types, their wings are particularly influential in their behavior. Most people lean towards one of their wings. Enneagram 8s lean either towards their 7 wing, written as “8w7” (8-wing-7), or towards their 9 wing (“8w9”).
8w7s are usually outgoing, ambitious, and interested in material things. They may be loud, friendly at parties, and often driven by the desire to experience new things. They are creative, idealistic, and bold, willing to take risks.
Their 7 wing helps them see their potential and their core type 8 helps them stay focused on their goals and not get sidetracked by other things that might intrigue them. Because 8w7 want both power and experiences, they work hard and play hard as if they have mastered the art of balancing life and work.
When 9’s passivity and 8’s dominance combine, we get a slow-moving personality capable of becoming unexpectedly aggressive. In contrast to 8w7, who is more likely to ignore a challenge, 8w9 is likewise more likely to display overt rage. Even while 8w9 would rather unwind, it’s critical to get the issue under control first.
8w9s don’t have as much energy as core types or 8w7s, but they are always ready to tackle new obstacles. Thanks to their 9 wing, 8w9s know how to keep their energy under control and enjoy their free time. And even though they are confrontational, they know which battles are worth their time.
Enneagram 8 Careers
8s make excellent leaders due to their strong personalities. They flourish in positions of authority where they can assume control and guide others. Because of their competitive nature, they thrive in any profession with a competitive environment.
Due to their dominant personality, 8s will feel constrained in environments where they are monitored closely by managers. They’re better off avoiding careers that would make them feel insignificant, and their voices wouldn’t be heard. Similarly, 8s are unlikely to succeed in occupations where they do not feel they are contributing to society or leaving a lasting impression.
Enneagram Type 8s excel in roles such as:
- Business Owner
- Corporate Executive
- Financial Advisor
- Athletic Coach
- Personal Trainer
- Police Officer
- Marketing Director
- Sales Manager
- School Principal
Enneagram 8 Compatibility With Other Types
Enneagram 8s are most compatible with other Type 8s, as well as Type 3, the Achiever.
An 8-8 relationship can be one of the best pairings in the Enneagram system. Together, their passion and enthusiasm for life can be transformed into a fruitful union. This couple emanates a sense of true teamwork.
Both partners can unwind and flow into life’s natural flow with an additional eight. Together, they can see the beauty of their surroundings and lessen their vigilant tendencies. By being authentic, this couple may make each other shine.
An 8-3 relationship will make for a passionate and exciting pairing. 3s and 8s are strong-willed and go after what they want in life. They stand out from the crowd in their ways, and they can’t help but notice each other and start to get along. Their union results in two ways: they form a partnership or compete with each other.
They can be charming and self-confident and shift course as necessary when things are not going their way. 3s add a greater sense of empathy, a knack for public relations, and a desire to appease others. 8s are straightforward in communication, courageous, physically enthusiastic, and determined to realize their vision.
Enneagram 8s are least compatible with Type 2, the Helper.
Both types tend to go in different directions and have opposing values. The 2s are more possessive and selfless, while the 8s are tough and aggressive. They might often argue with each other about whose philosophy will win out.
2s can get stuck in a codependent relationship with an 8 out of fear of losing them and being left alone. 2s would often defend and even encourage the 8 to engage in destructive behaviors. They can bring each other down without realizing it, and it might take them a long time to realize that the relationship isn’t working anymore.
Famous Enneagram Type 8s
Type 8s are leaders, show-stoppers, and one of the most memorable people you’ll ever meet. No wonder some of the most notable celebrities on the following list are 8s.
- Chris Hemsworth, Australian actor
- Frank Sinatra, American singer
- Socrates, Greek philosopher
- Muhammad Ali, American professional boxer
- Winston Churchill, Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
- Serena Williams, American tennis player
- Queen Latifah, American rapper, actress, and singer
- Barbara Walters, American journalist and TV personality
For Enneagram 8s, it’s of immense importance to demonstrate strength and refrain from displaying weakness. They enjoy being impactful and straightforward, as well as feeling in control. 8s also welcome challenges at any moment in life!
They must understand that their issues stem from their attempts to rebel against society and change it to suit their needs. They are aware that true power requires exposing oneself to risk. If you’re an Eight, remember that you can accomplish more with cooperation and teamwork instead of working alone. Remember, you can get the assistance you need; you just have to be a little more approachable.