Enneagram Type 8: “The Challenger” Personality Type Analysis

25 May 2023

Enneagram 8

It would be easier for an Enneagram 8 personality type to become a president or an astronaut than to go unnoticed. This charismatic type attracts attention wherever they show up without any particular effort.

Is it their looks, energy, or superpowers that make them so alluring? One of the safest ways to find an answer to this question is to take a look at this detailed guide about the Challenger. So, if you are ready for an exciting read, let’s reveal all the Eights’ core strengths, weaknesses, fears, and desires!

Enneagram Personality Type 8 Overview

Enneagram Personality Type 8 Overview

The first thing you notice about an Eight is the strength of their character. There’s a certain aura of power and authority around them, even when they do not hold any particular positions of authority and power.

Their whole life strategy is focused on being in control of their fate, feelings, and actions. Therefore, they are fiercely independent and strive to achieve the goals they believe will allow them to be the masters of their destinies.

They typically have a clear vision of what they want and actively work toward it. More sensitive types may find them reckless and too abrasive, as they unstoppably pave their way to success.

However, Eights are actually deeply caring and protective of those who matter to them and of those they find less fortunate in life. They are also the first to speak up and defend the weak or those who have been treated unfairly.

Of all the Enneagram types, Eights are the most at ease expressing anger. They even go so far as to occasionally come across as aggressive. Luckily, they are just as quick to forgive as they are quick to get angry.

Finally, energetic, action-oriented Eights also enjoy challenges and love to work but are also very hedonistic and have a large appetite for all the pleasures of life too.

Enneagram Type 8 Compatibility

Enneagram 8

Enneagram 8 compatibility with any other Enneagram type largely depends on how successfully Eights manage their trust issues. When they feel they can trust someone, they are passionate and protective partners.

Though they enjoy adventures and are typically capable of separating feelings from sensual pleasures, they do not run away from commitment when they feel the real thing.

Type 8 With Type 9

What binds this couple are the values they share. Both are oriented toward protecting the weak and fighting for social justice and equality. However, when it comes to handling conflicts, these two couldn’t be more different from each other.

Nevertheless, it is exactly this difference that makes their relationship strong. The Nines are masters at taming the Eights' rage. Meanwhile, the Eights’ willpower is incredibly stimulating for their laid-back partners, so their relationship usually flourishes without much friction.

Type 8 With Type 2

These two types usually feel mutual attraction as soon as they meet. They have a lot more in common than you might think at first glance—both Eights and Twos care deeply about others, stand up for the weak, and tend to assume responsibility.

The difference is that Eights love to take control of everything, including relationships, and Twos will rather play the role of the power behind the throne. In essence, this is the union of a pure masculine and a pure feminine principle.

Enneagram Type 8 Wings

Every Enneagram type can have the characteristics of one of the two types that surround them on the Enneagram circumference. Those two adjacent types are called wings. An Enneagram Type Eight can have either a Seven or a Nine wing.


The Enneagram 8 wing 9 personality type seems a bit more balanced and subdued than regular Eights. They are just as strong but have a more laid-back attitude toward life. Thanks to the influence of the Nine wing, they tend to be less aggressive and more protective in their behavior.

Since both Eights and Nines have a soft spot for those in need, an 8w9 is likely to engage in humanitarian initiatives and advocate for other people’s rights. In other words, these people are very dedicated to standing up for social justice.


The Seven wing spices up the Eight’s character, making it more adventurous and hedonistic. For this reason, the Enneagram 8 wing 7 personality represents an exciting, energetic adventurist seeking out new experiences.

The self-assurance of Eights and the enthusiasm of Sevens make this type brave and capable of impressive achievements. These people are not afraid of taking risks and readily follow their passions in all areas of life.

Enneagram Type 8 Strengths & Weaknesses

Man balancing in a handstand on a rock

Eights have decided very early in life that they will never let anyone manipulate or use them in any way. That’s because they were often brought up in families where triangulation was part of the everyday dynamics.

This kind of decision showed that they felt they needed to protect themselves from being controlled by adults. As adults, they want to be the rulers of their fate and tend to develop all the qualities that enable them to be what they want.

Enneagram Type 8 Strengths

The Challengers are, without a single doubt, one of the strongest personalities of all the Enneagram types. Some of their most impressive strengths include:

  • Initiative and an entrepreneurial spirit. Eights know what it takes to transform their dreams into reality and are willing to work hard and smart to accomplish their goals. Hence, it's not surprising they're considered one of the smartest Enneagram types.
  • Honesty. They have a way of making everything seem so simple just because they are open, forthright, and never afraid to speak the truth.
  • Courage. These people never back up when faced with challenges. They stand tall and proud, ready to get through anything that life throws at them.
  • Self-assurance. Challengers know who they are, what they want, and what they can do. As kids, they were often very mature for their age.
  • Compassion. Behind their untouchable facade lies a tender heart. Eights deeply understand other people’s feelings, even though they do not show it unless they find it necessary. However, they will always stand up and defend anyone less strong or unfairly treated.

Enneagram Type 8 Weaknesses

The fact that Eights rarely show any weaknesses doesn’t at all mean they don’t have them. Here are some of their most prominent weak spots:

  • Overly controlling behavior. It is sometimes hard for an Eight to differentiate their need to protect or lead others from their need to control them.
  • Too provocative and confrontational an attitude. For an Eight, not being in charge feels deeply wrong. Therefore they feel the need to confront anyone who they find threatens their leading role.
  • Anger outbursts. They don’t allow themselves to display many emotions, but they are often too comfortable when it comes to expressing anger. In fact, they may even come across as aggressive.
  • Tendency to paranoid reactions. Eights tend to project their fear of being exploited and betrayed onto people they are surrounded with.
  • Unhealthy competitiveness. Challengers often feel they have to be on top or they may lose control. For them, competitions are not so much about winning as they are about being at the top.

To explore both the positive and negative aspects of your personality, take the Dark and Light Side of Personality test.

Enneagram Type 8 Fears & Desires

Enneagram Type 8 Fears & Desires

Though Eights like to think big and seem very ambitious, their desires are existential in their nature, just like their fears.

Enneagram Type 8 Fears

However strong their fears may be at times, Eights will fight against them. They don’t like being controlled by anything or anyone, so they surely won’t let their fears control them. They are typically afraid of:

  • Being used and betrayed. Since they usually grow up feeling betrayed by their caregivers, Eights would do anything to avoid feeling that way again.
  • Being incapable of relying on themselves. Since they don’t trust others, being unable to take care of themselves translates into being left to the mercy of anything and anyone.
  • Being vulnerable. Eights are afraid that if they show their tender side, they may be exploited by others. Therefore, they often see tenderness as weakness.

Enneagram Type 8 Desires

Eights fiercely pursue their desires, and you can be sure that when they want something, they will eventually get it. Their core desires are:

  • Being powerful. The more power they have, the more relaxed Eights feel. They are not ambitious for the sake of recognition or material goods, but because that’s how they ensure feeling safe.
  • Providing for and protecting those they love. Eights naturally assume a lot of responsibility and feel it is their place to ensure a good life for those they care about.
  • Being independent and free. Whatever they do, they need a sense of autonomy and ownership. They want to succeed on their own terms and fearlessly set their own standards.

How Does an Enneagram Type 8 Act Under Stress?

Man wearing a suit and blue boxing gloves

There’s nothing more stressful for an Eight than being subordinate and dependent. They typically have challenging relationships with authorities because they can only hold respect for those who worked hard to earn the right to be in a position of power.

When they are unable to attain the position they believe belongs to them, they become aggressive, confrontational, and vindictive. If they feel helpless and unable to take control for too long, they tend to isolate and start considering risky plans for their future.

If the source of stress for Enneagram 8 is an emotional disappointment, they will feel betrayed and preoccupied with paranoid ideas. They may also engage in high-risk behaviors such as excessive drinking, clubbing, meaningless flings, compulsive eating, substance abuse, and similar.

However, generally, Eights perform great under pressure and even enjoy challenges. They are not easily overwhelmed by stress and can persist under very tough circumstances and overcome even the greatest obstacles.

How Does an Enneagram Type 8 Behave in Relationships?

Couple enjoying coffee together while holding hands

Passionate, honest, and loyal, Eights are very desirable partners. They have a very sensual nature, so that aspect of relationships is of high importance to them.

Since they are intense and domineering, they need a partner who will balance their hot temper. Eights need to feel both love and respect for their partner, so they search for someone who can confront them without fear while remaining calm and emotionally stable.

Trust is the biggest issue in any relationship for them. While they need to feel they can trust their partner’s loyalty, they also need to feel that they will not crush under their willful character.

When it comes to expressing emotions, Eights are very generous and warm, but only if they feel totally safe. They aren't very romantic, but they enjoy being physically close to their partner and are willing to do anything to protect them and their relationship together.

Enneagram Type 8 Careers Matches

Eights are natural-born leaders. Regardless of how their career starts, they will always find their way to the top.

On the one hand, that’s because they can’t stand anyone being above them. On the other hand, they usually have all the qualities of great leaders, like charisma, strong will, vision, persistence, and drive.

When they work in a team, their competitiveness is usually very noticeable unless the team agrees they are in charge. However, since they are not particularly fond of hierarchy and strict rules, they often run their own businesses and like to work independently.

For deeper insights into Type 8's approach to work, check out our Enneagram at Work article.

Best & Worst Careers

Honorable, fair, and fierce Eights are excellent lawyers, politicians, and activists. Their managerial skills and pragmatic spirit are also great assets for a career in all kinds of commercial businesses. Since they are very responsible, daring, and capable, they often make great doctors, particularly surgeons.

The worst careers for Eights are those that limit their freedom or demand an obedient attitude. They can’t stand doing a job that leads them nowhere, so administrative, clerical, and similar careers are of no interest to them.

Development Levels of Enneagram Type 8

Development Levels of Enneagram Type 8

All types develop and slightly change during the course of time. If the stress levels they experience do not exceed their coping capacities, they will grow through challenges. Otherwise, if they are served with more than they can handle, the development stops, and each type gets stuck in its own malfunctioning patterns.

Healthy Enneagram Type 8

Mature, healthy Eights are both kind and strong and have no trouble letting their guard down. The more developed they are, the more sophisticated they become at managing their emotions and expressing their vulnerability.

Instead of being vindictive, they become deeply understanding of others yet still highly driven and success-oriented. Capable of great achievements, they selflessly but decisively lead others toward a better future.

They usually hold positions of power and are proud to protect people they love as well as those less fortunate.

Average Enneagram Type 8

At an average level, the Enneagram 8 personality type is driven by a feeling of competence and authority in their field. They instinctively tend to dominate every situation, conversation, and relationship, unconsciously protecting themselves from being controlled by anyone.

They are tenacious in the pursuit of their objectives, but they frequently come off as arrogant and overbearing on their way to success. That’s because they are still struggling with their need to confront every authority figure in their path at this level.

Unhealthy Enneagram Type 8

On an unhealthy level, Eights lose their fierce ambition as their grandiose plans fail. They may become too confrontational, picking up a fight with anyone just to relieve some of their anger.

Since they are ashamed of their vulnerabilities and consider feelings a weakness, they may also isolate themselves and get locked in their heads to try to preserve their fearless image. An unhealthy Eight might even develop criminal tendencies. Since they can’t find their way to the top the regular way, they may start considering less straightforward alternatives.

Enneagram Type 8 Growth Tips

Sunset over the sea

Each Enneagram type has a natural tendency to grow toward its best self. Getting the right support may be essential for personal development, so if you are an Eight, here are some useful tips to motivate you in the right direction:

  • Learn the difference between weakness and tenderness. Showing your emotions openly is a sign of bravery, not cowardice. Only strong people are capable of being vulnerable.
  • Learn to forgive and let go. Vengeance only leads to more pain, and nobody gets anything good from it in the end. As long as you hold a grudge, you are letting those who hurt you control your life.
  • Accept it is ok to depend on others. Human beings are wired for connection, and it is only natural to feel the need to be taken care of by someone from time to time. Learn to give in to someone you trust, and let them occasionally hold the reins.
  • Manage your anger. There are many anger management tactics that are very effective in helping you control your emotions. It is better to take control of your anger than let it control you.
  • Invest your energy and time into close relationships with people you care about. Being driven and devoted to succeeding is great, but it does not have to cost you friendships.

Enneagram Type 8 Famous People

Due to their charisma and strong will to raise above the average, Eights often raise to some kind of fame. Here are some of the most famous Enneagram 8 celebrities:

  • Kamala Harris, the current vice president of the USA.
  • Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter who set his own standards in art.
  • Fidel Castro, Cuban revolutionary and politician who left his mark on world history.
  • Frank Sinatra, American singer and actor.
  • Aretha Franklin, American singer, songwriter, and pianist with a memorable voice.
  • Muhammad Ali, one of the most famous boxers of all timetimes.
  • Clint Eastwood, American actor and film director.

Key Takeaways

And this should be enough for you to know an Eight when you meet one!

Let’s wrap up with some of the Challenger’s key traits:

  • Eights are energetic, strong personalities who strive for positions of power.
  • They are people of action, driven and capable of great achievements.
  • Underneath their tough appearance lies a generous and warm heart.
  • Being controlled by others is an Eight’s worst nightmare.