Type One

“The Perfectionist”
Enneagram Type 1

The Type One is referred to as "The Perfectionist" of the Enneagram system. They like to do things the right way according to their very high standards, and they work hard to avoid making mistakes. They are consistently motivated to be their best – at work, in relationships and in their day-to-day lives.

Key Personality Traits of the 1

  • Serious and straightforward during conversation
  • Attuned to practicality and frugality
  • Hardworking and diligent as employees
  • High internal standards
  • Rigidity in plans and decisions
  • Intense ability to concentrate
  • Natural talent for teaching and instructing

What is Enneagram 1?

Enneagram Type Ones like to do things correctly and to high standards, are sticklers for rules, and pay close attention to detail. They also avoid making mistakes. To others, they appear perfectionistic, responsible and exacting.

Ones are typically sticklers for rules and details, and get frustrated when things don’t live up to their very high standards – at work, in relationships or in their day-to-day lives.

Deepest Fear: Ones fear being “bad people,” morally flawed, or otherwise seen as imperfect. They cope with this fear by being rigidly disciplined and very hard on themselves (and often, those around them, too).

Core Motivation: Ones strive to be good and honorable - and to live a life with purpose. They seek the best and most correct way to do things.

How Rare are Enneagram 1s?

  • In a Truity study of more than 54,000 respondents, Type Ones were found to make up approximately 10% of the population. There is no gender difference in the distribution of Ones; they make up 10% of women as well as 10% of men.

Enneagram Type 1 In Depth: The Perfectionist

Perfectionists are responsible and serious-minded pragmatists. They want to find purpose in their lives, in particular the ability to improve the welfare of people and make things better for the greater good.

To do this, they use their best judgment to find solutions that can be applied in the real world. They have a deep appreciation and interest in ethics, and frequently spend time evaluating and adjusting their moral compass as necessary.

Often, Ones have a clear life mission outlined in their mind, and they work very hard behind the scenes to transform that powerful vision into reality - with a strong sense of duty and tenaciousness. Quiet and controlled, they will follow through with their words and commitments.

Perfectionists are willing to go the extra mile to ensure their work is top-notch and curated to perfection. They take great pride in crafting streamlined schedules and plans to carry out tasks in the most efficient manner possible — optimization is a lifestyle choice.

Within the structure of the Enneagram, Ones belong to the “body-based” triad, along with Type Eight and Type Nine. This triad focuses on the core emotion of anger, which Type Ones cope with by designing their lives around order and control.

The Perfectionist feels that if they have everything organized and under control, they will not have to worry about negative emotional experiences like anger and frustration. Because this type sees anger as “wrong,” they will repress it, which can ultimately lead to feelings of resentment, self-loathing and regret.

Type Ones often grow up in environments where there is a lot of chaos and uncertainty. Because of this, Type Ones often feel responsible for holding everything together. As long as they can maintain order, the One believes that everything will be “good.”

Because Ones believe they are always right, they can be overly critical of both themselves and others. Healthy Ones learn to accept imperfection and accept themselves and others as they are, rather than focus on how they “should” be.

Enneagram 1 Wings

1w9: Enneagram Type One wing Nine personalities have all the main characteristics of the Type One, but also resemble the Type Nine in some ways. These Ones are generally calmer than other Type Ones and they possess a strong sense of right and wrong. They are more open to new ideas and perspectives than a typical One. They may appear quieter and more withdrawn than other Type Ones as well. Like Type Nines, this type seeks peace and avoids conflict. 1w9s are drawn to careers in psychology, social work, journalism and politics.

1w2: Enneagram Type One wing Two personalities have all the main characteristics of the Type One, but also resemble the Type Two in many ways. These Ones are more focused on the livelihoods of other people, and champion causes focused on meeting people’s needs. They may appear overly controlling or critical of other people in an effort to help them become the “best version” of themselves. Like the Type Two, this type wants to help and feel appreciated. 1w2s are drawn to careers in medicine, law, religion and social justice.

Core Values of Enneagram 1s

  • A desire to improve every aspect of their lives. They aim for their actions to be consistent with their values and principles, and work extremely hard to achieve that goal.
  • Responsibility and due diligence are the pillars of a Perfectionist’s values. They strive for accountability and appreciate the functionality of various products and systems.
  • Integrity is a key factor in their life choices and stands the test of time. Loyalty, justice and honesty are the core ingredients in shaping a Perfectionist’s down-to-earth character.

How to Recognize an Enneagram 1

A clear and organized life, both inside and out, is the Perfectionist’s ultimate goal. Steadfast and diligent, Perfectionists seek to improve the state of the world through intention and reason. They have a clear sense of duty and feel obligated to serve society through willpower and perseverance.

Their method of communication is typically direct, honest and deliberate. With little patience for small talk, they take charge of their duties in a contained manner. Fashion trends are of little concern—they prefer to invest in high-quality pieces that’ll stand the test of time. And in relationships, they have a similar outlook. Ones are loyal, conscientious partners who also have high standards for themselves -- and their significant other.

With their keen ability to discern, they gravitate towards careers in the military, law, forensics, finance and academia. You may also find Ones involved with nonprofits and civic/community-focused organizations, as they yearn to make a positive difference in the world.

In the workplace, they carry tasks carefully and methodologically. A Perfectionist may be the star employee who goes above and beyond to complete all work to a high standard.

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Enneagram 1s

When they are healthy, Ones see an abundance of situations to improve and accept the dynamic chaos of life as it is. They have a strong sense of justice and fairness, and are willing to tolerate and understand the diversity of humanity to further progress for the greater good. The Perfectionist achieves an ideal work-life balance and understands how to relax.

When they are average, Ones organize and compartmentalize all aspects of their lives, follow strict ideals and are likely passionate about various social causes. This is evident in their professional or personal pursuits and societal memberships. Often rigid workaholics, Perfectionists may suppress emotional needs in order to get things done.

When they are unhealthy, Ones become out of touch with reality and focus on irrelevant factors. This can lead to a self-affirming spiral of prejudice to the point of obsession and compulsion. They may discredit others’ opinions and nitpick to keep their distorted self-image in check. There is little room for error in this state, and Perfectionists can fall into explosions of rage and fury when their principles are under attack.

Growth Tips for Enneatype 1s

  • Be kinder to yourself. In the extreme or under stress, Type Ones can be so hard on themselves that they can make themselves miserable. Easing up on your inner negative critic is something to consider. Think about how a close friend would feel if you levelled that same critique at them.
  • Recognize that not everyone is where you are. Ones can be great colleagues, teachers, partners and friends, but often their own high-standards can make them seem judgmental, overly rigid, and harpie-like to others! Learning to accept people as they are, and to pause (or at least censor yourself) before getting overly preachy or nitpicky is important.
  • Be flexible and open to outside perspectives. Bringing moral clarity and strong principles to your work and life is great -- and has empowered many Type Ones who have led major social movements (like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela). However, staying humble and grounded in living those truths (vs. just preaching them), and understanding that people may bring other views to the table, is critical to maintaining balance.
  • Establish a healthy work/life balance. Ones tend to be driven workaholics with extraordinary focus, which can lead to much career success - as demonstrated by multiple Type Ones who have reached the heights of their own fields (from Michelle Obama, to Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, to Tina Fey). But being mindful of the need to balance all those late office nights with time for relationships, family, health, and your own overall wellness is key.
  • Lighten’ up! This may seem “easier said than done,” but the One's path to growth lies in learning to not take everything in life so seriously. Look for the silliness in yourself and the world around you, and take time to relax and be present.

Famous Enneagram Type 1s

  • Martha Stewart
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Michelle Obama
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Tina Fey
  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • Captain “Sully” Sullenberger
  • Steve Jobs
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Meryl Streep
  • Elizabeth Warren
  • Kate Middleton
  • Brene Brown
  • Jane Fonda
  • Emma Watson
  • "Mary Poppins” (Mary Poppins)
  • “Hermione Granger” (Harry Potter)
  • “Ned Stark” (Games of Thrones)
  • "Steve Rogers” (Captain America)

Type 1s in Relationships

Enneagram Ones in a relationship can bring a balance of goodness, productivity and fun to the mix that most of us can only dream about. However, Ones also tend to focus on noticing errors in themselves and their partners.

Because of this, when frustration rises to a high level in romantic relationships, Ones internally point to the mistakes of their partners using logic, but they usually don’t say anything about these critiques. This tension can last long since they tend to repress their anger — and are sometimes even unaware of it. This repression stems from the belief that they are “bad” when they experience anger, instead of realizing conflict is part of life.

When they do finally get the courage to express frustration to a partner or spouse however, the spouse has often already “felt” the anger in some way and is sensitive to the One’s critique. This can further a couple’s polarization as the quite-logical One refuses to meet the partner with softness. Instead, they insist on their own rigid positioning and being even more convinced they are right.

At this point, Ones may express hostility since they believe their actions are correct and they will try to force things into conformity. For this reason, it is important for Ones to practice the inner work of releasing their control and their desire for perfection to a higher power. Likewise, to ensure they are taking care of themselves through mindfulness, meditation, a regular massage, or a workout.

When healthy Ones recognize that the gift of rightness, fairness and goodness they bring to the world is the source of their attraction, and that they are not responsible for the end result of every situation (including letting go to a higher power, if they are spiritually inclined), they can relax in a relationship. This allows them to better take care of their relationship and even to offer apologies as necessary, the latter of which is not always natural for a One.

If you love a One, remember that even when they’re healthy, they still love improving things! Their biggest needs in the relationship are finding time to make the world a better place as a team and then to relax. This is not only their desire, it is their gift.

You too, will be on the road to improvement if you partner with a One. Sometimes that’s even unconsciously why you picked them, because you knew they would keep you on the straight and narrow! Ones are in the anger triad of the Enneagram. They are inclined to have anger and a harsh critical voice that can be turned both inward and outward. Why aren’t they better? Why aren’t I better? They are often their own worst critic. Knowing this about them, you should encourage self-care and try to remember that when your One is trying to reform you, it’s because they’re wired to see problems. Work on your stuff, then. However, don’t take it on if it’s not yours to deal with. Also, steer them toward fun as a reward after medium-to-large segments of hard relationship work!

If you’re with a One, remind them that you may have different gifts than them. Let them know you’ll never give up on self-improvement but that you don’t want them to judge or critique you. Help them to understand framing things more positively and realize that their very gift for seeing errors can be positive, but can also have a negative impact on you. For Ones, finding this balance can be a lifelong issue for them to work on in all their relationships.

Enneagram Relationship content was co-developed with marital therapist turned relationship coach Christa Hardin (MA).

Type 1 Compatibility by Partner Type