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Enneagram Type 1: The Perfectionist Is Always First

Type Ones, also referred to as the Perfectionists, are motivated to improve the world and have a strong sense of justice. They are responsible, serious-minded realists looking for meaning in life, especially the capacity to advance human welfare and improve conditions for the common good.

Ones, also known as perfectionists, have a compulsive urge to make the world a better place. This personality type believes nothing is ever quite good enough, so they constantly try to improve things. They are idealists who try to bring order out of the constant chaos; perfectionists who want to change and improve.

They are moral, devoted, and trustworthy people who want to live according to their values without making mistakes or taking responsibility. Let’s go over their key characteristics in more detail.

Key Characteristics

The attributes mentioned below are just a few of those most common to Enneagram Type 1—the Perfectionist.

Personality Traits

  • Hardworking and efficient
  • Value justice and justice
  • Conscientious
  • Straightforward in conversations
  • Do the right thing for the right reasons, not because someone told them to
  • Practical


As a personality model, Enneagram evaluates the motivations of individual Enneagram Types, and these motivations are categorized as either fears or desires.


The greatest fears that Enneagram Type 1s may face encompass flaws, whether their own or those of others. Lacking integrity or showing imperfections can cause these types an immense amount of stress.


Enneagram Type 1s desire a morally sound world where their ethics and perfectionism are appreciated and shared for the good of all.


  • Defends the rights of other people
  • Natural-born organizers and leaders
  • Have a keen perception
  • They can beautifully incorporate themselves into a community
  • Active and practical people who get things done
  • Help others to be better people
  • Strive to have their behaviors reflect the core ideals that guide them


  • Inflexibility in plans and decisions
  • Detailed to the point of productivity loss
  • Tends to be too serious
  • Finds it hard to relax
  • Sees emotionality as a sign of weakness
  • Struggles to accept ideas that go against their personal beliefs.
  • Too critical of themselves and others

Direction of Growth and Stress

Enneagram Direction of Growth

In Enneagram personality typing, the mention of integration and disintegration often arises. This is otherwise known as the Direction of Growth and Direction of Stress. They are depicted as lines or arrows on the Enneagram chart. These lines represent the characteristics that may emerge in each individual during times of personal development as well as during times of stress.

Growth Arrow to Seven

At their best, Ones have a fantastic ability to see potential improvement in everything around them and also take action to bring that vision to fruition.

When Type Ones are heading in the direction of growth, they head in the direction of their growth number, which is Type Seven. This indicates that when Type Ones are healthy and growing, they begin to exhibit some of the positive characteristics associated with Type Seven. This could entail being more spontaneous in your actions, becoming more accepting of who you are, and becoming more cheerful. This doesn’t mean that Ones will become a Seven.

Healthy Ones will employ the healthy Seven qualities in their own way of Ones.

An Enneagram 2 in the direction of growth will:

  • Be more spontaneous in their actions.
  • Gain confidence and become more accepting of who they are.
  • Become more cheerful in their outlook.
  • Show a tendency to be adventurous.
  • With enthusiasm and generosity, be able to charm and inspire others.

Stress Arrow to Four

At their worst, Ones can be overly critical of themselves and others, leaving everyone feeling as if they don’t measure up.

Ones begin to behave more like Fours when they are under a lot of stress. They start to criticize and judge themselves and others more. They frequently burn out trying to satisfy their ever-increasing demands, and this fatigue fosters anger and hatred. They would open themselves more readily to criticism, especially negative feedback.

Under stress, Type Ones would overindulge, disregard some of their standards, or act recklessly. They seem to have extinguished their inner compass and temporarily set loose a rebel who had been skulking in the corner.

An Enneagram 1 in the direction of stress will:

  • Show an inclination toward self-pity, depression. and becoming self-absorbed.
  • Possibly become envious of the perceived romantic relationships of others.
  • Have a penchant for feeling inadequate and may compare themselves with others.
  • Become disposed toward self-indulgence and self-awareness, and may seem overly dramatic.

Instinctual Variants

The three instinctual variants are self-preservation, sexual, and social instincts. Understanding Enneagram Subtypes provides additional insight into how different individuals respond to life, people, and circumstances based on their instincts.

Self-preservation (SP) instinct controls our needs for personal safety and security.

SP Ones want to have everything under control, so they don’t have to worry about unforeseen circumstances. They repress their anger more than the other two subtypes, often coming across as gentle and obedient. On the inside, though, they have a lot of anger, causing them to become obsessed with being perfect. SP Ones can feel triggered by criticism from others and become defensive or rigid.

Social (SO) instinct influences our need to be part of a larger group and community and to feel like we belong.

SO Ones are more attentive to groups than the other two subtypes, caring intensely about networks. They invest in their neighborhoods, towns, communities, schools, and friends. SO Ones often feel pressured to live up to who they “should be” in these spaces.

When appropriate, they internalize the role of a teacher, representing the example or ideal of what is proper to say or do for the benefit of all. They know of numerous problems or potential improvements in their spheres of influence. Ones are a valuable contribution to their communities when they channel their energy in constructive ways and with a healthy dose of humility.

Sexual (SX) instinct controls our sexuality and personal romantic and platonic relationships.

SX Ones bring strong, passionate energy to these partnerships, which can appear very intense. They work tirelessly to shape others (and occasionally the entire world) into their ideal to reform “their people.”

Sexual Ones are enthusiastic about establishing and maintaining lasting friendships in more supportive environments. They will be devoted to their close friends, partners, coworkers, and company. Healthy Sexual Ones will work on connecting with their loved ones with warmth, sincerity, and reciprocity.

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Enneagram Type 1s

Each person may have a different reaction to the difficulties they face. And these responses may change, depending on the state of their emotional health. In Enneagram, understanding the healthy or unhealthy states of each type can assist in resolving issues relating to an individual’s overall wellbeing.

Signs of a Healthy Perfectionist

Healthy Ones make for educators who are very wise and intelligent. They see many ways that they and the world around them can get better. Ones can work so hard because they are driven from the inside. They find it easier than most to put off immediate pleasure to get something better later.

They are moral, just, objective, and discerning in their view of work related issues, relationships and of the world.

Healthy Ones are the world’s best teachers and builders. They grow into people who are happy to teach others how to be better versions of themselves. They can easily accept that people are different and look forward to making changes to make the community a better place to live.

Signs of an Average Perfectionist

They can become overly idealist in that they perceive themselves as the fixers of the world and people around them.

Since they dislike disorderliness, they may seem formulaic in their approach and this may include their treatment of others.

They may become excessively critical, not only of others, but also of themselves. This can make them seem impatient, harsh, and dissatisfied.

Signs of an Unhealthy Perfectionist

When psychologically unbalanced, Type 1s, who are generally calm and reasonable, suddenly become harsh, emotional, and unreasonable. They begin to explode with inward animosity toward both themselves and other people. They could harshly criticize their own and other people’s behavior. They are brutally honest and never compromise on what they believe to be correct.

Sometimes they can maintain their outward image, but they secretly engage in all their “bad” desires, making them feel humiliated and angry, and may even cause them to loathe themselves. They could experience a negative emotional cycle that pushes them toward self-blame.

Growth Recommendations

  • Be more patient with yourself and others. Watch the critical mind without letting it affect your sense of self-worth. The problem is not that there are too many standards or that they are too high. The problem is that you have too much power over how you feel about yourself and how you live your life. Ask yourself whether your constant self-criticism is really effective or whether it is only wearing you or others down.
  • Learn soothing techniques. Take a step back and try to see how your anger turns people off, making it difficult for them to hear most of the positive things you have to say.
  • Set realistic standards. Your perfectionistic tendency makes it impossible for you to reach the standards you set for yourself and others. Allow some space and time for adjustments. I
  • Not everyone is the same as you. People operate and think differently based on their beliefs and perspectives. There will be differences, but you have to learn to work together to accommodate them.

Enneagram 1 Wings

The enneagram wings are the numbers next to your core type. Even though they are contradictory, the person may have various traits. This means that Type Ones may have either Type Nine or Type Two wings.

The enneagram wings the numbers


Ones and Nines illustrate how a person can possess conflicting tendencies. One is an idealist and perfectionist, but Nine can also be laid-back and less rigid about externally imposing the inner drive.

Keeping in mind that an Enneagram 1w9 is still fundamentally a Type One, they are typically cool under pressure. They have strong morals and don’t let their emotions control them as much. The Nine-wing, on the other hand, permits them to be more subdued and peace-loving.


Type 1w2s tend to have strong moral convictions. Their moral principles make them just and loyal. They are warm-hearted and empathic. They become a little more reclusive and disconnected from their idealistic outlook on life. They find it simpler to maintain composure in challenging circumstances and are often more considerate under the influence of the Nine.

As much as any other One, those with a Nine wing want to better both themselves and the world, but they typically take a more compassionate approach. These individuals are the change-makers and community helpers who can go out of their comfort zone to help and support others.

Enneagram 1 Careers

Due to their fear of failure and desire for perfection, Ones do best in an open, communicative setting. Similarly, Ones do best in severe professional settings. Careers that require attention to detail and the ability to solve problems may also suit them well.

In the wrong setting, Ones are rigid and judgmental. They have the potential to be highly self-disciplined, optimistic, and conscientious, and as a result, they struggle in environments that are hostile to these traits. Feeling helpless and out of control is a common side effect of being in a setting where one’s ideas aren’t valued.

  • Doctor
  • Nurse
  • Civil Servant
  • Accountant
  • Charity Lobbyist
  • Politician
  • Academic
  • Lawyer
  • Law Enforcement
  • Trade Union Rep

Enneagram 1 Compatibility With Other Types

Enneagram 1s are most compatible with Enneagram 2s—the Helpers—and Enneagram 7s—the Enthusiasts

Ones are hardworking and strive for perfection. They pay close attention to details and have high standards. People are drawn to those who can make them laugh and see beauty in the bad things that happen in life.

In a One-Two relationship, the heart-focused and attentive Two can bring warmth to the One’s pursuit of integrity and help them soften and relax. This is because Ones who are focused on tasks can feel rigid. In the same way, Ones give Twos, who have trouble with abandonment, stability and security. (Ones and Twos are also “wings” of the Enneagram, which means they may share some traits.)

Since they share an Enneagram line, there’s a complementary relationship in a One-Seven relationship. Ones like them because they are bold and don’t take themselves too seriously. Joyful Sevens can remind the usually serious and hardworking One to let loose and, most importantly, not feel bad about having fun. Ones give the flighty Seven a much-needed sense of direction and purpose, which grounds the Seven.

Enneagram 1 is least compatible with Enneagram 4

Although Ones and Fours would initially be drawn together through mutual attraction, their significant differences would probably be their downfall. As realists who live by their strong moral code, justice, and order, Ones may tire of Fours, who can lean toward frivolity, may not be as stringent in their sense of right and wrong, especially when it comes to expressing their creative views. The rigid routines of Ones may cause Fours to feel stifled, as they enjoy a level of spontaneity in their lives.

Famous Enneagram Type 1s

There are numerous well-known Type 1 celebrities and people to draw from because Type 1s are often determined and strive to bring about positive change in the world. Go-getters, innovators, and leaders characterize Type 1s.

  • Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa
  • Eleanor Roosevelt, Former First Lady of the United States
  • Michelle Obama, Former First Lady of the United States
  • Emma Watson, English Actress
  • Immanuel Kant, German Philosopher
  • Hillary Clinton, Former First Lady of the United States
  • Steve Jobs, CEO, and co-founder of Apple Inc.


Enneagram Ones are always trying to find ways to make the world a better place. They use moral principles to find ways to get through hard times and make a difference. They are organized and hold themselves and others to high standards, but they often make decisions that don’t take the long view.

Type Ones tend to get involved in causes, and they try to make things right when they see something wrong. They can be stubborn because they stick to their values, which makes them honest and trustworthy. Because of this, Type Ones tend to have a lot of integrity and keep their word. This usually means they are put in positions where they can be trusted.