Enneagram Type 1

Type One: The Reformer / Perfectionist

Ones belong to the Gut / Body Centre. While their tendencies and ways of thinking make it seem like they are in the Head Centre, there is an inner persistence to make the world a better place and they want to make right whatever they think is not functioning in a way it should. When they do not get what they want, they tend to suppress their anger which manifests itself in frustration and irritation, while searching for ways to make amends. They are sometimes called the Perfectionists which can be good in certain instances and once it gets overboard, it will pinch the nerves of those who are acquainted with them. .

Early Childhood

What makes the Enneagram so palatable is it’s ability to explain how and why each individual behaves a certain way and what are some of these underpinnings.

The Type 1 child can usually identify with a parent (usually a father) who was highly critical or put great emphasis on doing things in a specific way and when this standard was not met, the criticism levelled against the young child was present and sometimes severe. Where the Ones eventually grow up to be Unresourceful is if they grew up with being criticized even if the child believed they did their best but was told that it was never good enough. This fixation on never being good enough stretches into adulthood and they find it difficult to be settled in a place of “good enough’ even when it’s sometimes already great. Conversely, a Resourceful Type One child would have experienced a healthy upbringing with validation and encouragement. The two extremes in upbringing have a deep impact on how the child behaves.

Strengths of the Type One

1) They take great satisfaction in assuming responsibility and appreciate a systemic or orderly approach to tasks and events thus ensuring consistency and accuracy over time where nothing goes wrong in a world where unpredictability is constant.

2) Make things better: It is easy for Ones to see what is wrong or insufficient in a given situation, as well as to see how things can be improved. Ones may come across as demanding or picky but it is simply hard for them not to have things done in a certain way.

3) Congruent: Ones say what they mean and find it very difficult to express something which is not in alignment with their values and beliefs. Hence, they are straightforward and respectfully keen to ensure whatever seems out of line gets straightened out.

4) They have high expectations of especially themselves by maintaining high standards in areas of work quality, values, honesty, articulation, design, structure, process and doing one’s best. Ones hold themselves and others accountable to meet these important standards.

5) They are honest, want things to be right and have high integrity and maybe that’s why the Ones are also called The Good Person. Ones feel uncomfortable embellishing stories about themselves or their achievements. They remain humble, persevering and strive to make things better without any need for attention.


Any type becomes Unresourceful when they begin to over-do some of the thoughts and behaviours that are typical of the type.

1) Can’t Let go:  If their own principles are violated by others, letting go for Ones is difficult. Forgiving becomes a challenge since their sense of trust and integrity for good work, can take another knock by the same person in future. They remain cautious and it may take a lot to make good once a serious breach (according to their standards) is made.

2) Ones sometimes choose to mop up the dirt that others can’t or don’t want to do as its tedious and not in the personality of many to be conscientious. It’s when Ones become pedantic, dogmatic, tense, anxious, and take things too seriously that they become unpleasant to have around.

3) Don’t know how to rest: Ones are self-sacrificing and tend to think that problems must be worked on until it’s solved. They work like there’s no tomorrow. Letting go becomes tough. It is not helped by their thinking that what they do is never good enough. Think of a Bull Terrier unwilling to loosen its grip on something. Ones always believe more could have been done.

4) They frequently feel burdened taking on too much responsibility, recognizing that no one else will do as good a job as them. It is a belief that they have rather than speaking out of arrogance. It also does not come from a place of obsessing about what they have done and what others should have.

5) Strong self-critic: Ones are their own worst critic. Before you can point out something about them, they would have already done it many time over. They become frequently get disappointed with themselves when expectations are not met, however, if they can’t let go, expectations will never be met because of their internal critic.

Reflections for the Type One

1) Become acquainted with your superego (your inner judge) and distinguish it from yourself. Begin to hear this voice as “it” rather than “you”. In other words, focus on how the situation has unfolded rather than how you are the cause if things go wrong.

2) Become more accepting rather than trying to make everything perfect. Let go of some of your attentiveness to detail and needing to have everything under control. The world is imperfectly perfect… Because of its imperfections, it’s perfect as it is.

3) Learn to identify important from the not so important, so that you don’t spend too much time on the details of unimportant things and hold up the task to be done.

4) Don’t rest everything on your shoulders. While you might think that others’ contributions are not as great as yours, they can assist you to lighten your load.

5) Be open and honest about your vulnerabilities or you’ll forever carry the burden of righteousness which could be straining and at the same time draining to others around you. Vulnerability builds the courage to face your challenges and progressively acceptance of imperfections.

Self-Preservation Type One

Known as The Pioneer and their Vulnerabilities / Vices is Anxiety or Worry. Their concern for security or precision makes them do the right thing, work hard, and need to control everything, especially the environment and family.

Sexual or One-to-One Type One

Known as The Evangelist and their Vulnerabilities / Vices is Jealousy or Zeal. They have high standards for correct behavior, are overzealous and forceful in everything whether work or relationships, especially in improving others. 

Social Type One

Known as The Social Reformer and their Vulnerabilities / Vices is Non-adaptability. They have a clear set of rules, find it hard to adapt to new situations, like to role model, and teach others the right way of being or doing things.

Read more on the 27 Sub Types here.