Enneagram Type #1


Type #1 The Perfectionist – The Reformer


The rational, principled, self controlled idealist 

Today I will help Enneagram Type #1’s understand their motivation, release the burden of perfection, trust in their goodness and finally relax.

Ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. At their Best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. (Atticus Finch, Hermione Granger) At their worst: close minded, critical, self righteous (Osama Bin Laden)


A type 1 parent can show up quite differently depending on whether their strict moral code extends to their children, or is primarily turned inward onto themselves.


You might hear a One say to their kids: “It’s my way or the highway” ,

“It’s important to take your responsibilities seriously.

“If you were more organized, this wouldn’t be a problem.”

“If you aren’t going to follow the rules, we aren’t going to play.”

Or you might hear them say:

“Why can’t I ever get it right?

“I can’t relax because there is still work to be done.”


Basic Fear: Being a “bad” person

Basic Desire: To be good, to have integrity, to be beyond reproach

Key Motivations: Want to be good and right, to strive higher and improve themselves and the world around them, to be consistent with their ideals, to justify themselves, to be beyond criticism so as not to be condemned by anyone.


Ones might express irritation and resentment regularly but try to control their anger because they see it as morally wrong. Ones have difficulty letting go, being silly, indulging, relaxing and going with the flow.


Type One Anja signed up for the Leading Your Teen group class and was super enthusiastic. She had taken parenting classes when her kids were young and appreciated learning new tools and strategies for parenting her kids. She read books and enjoyed striving to be her best. She participated and enjoyed getting coached. Learning about herself and ways in which she could improve made her feel competent. Acquiring strategies for raising teenagers helped her confidence that she was up to the task.

She spoke highly of the class to her friend Amy (also a type 1) assuming she would love it. Amy signed up for the class but struggled to get into a learning mindset. She was so wary of being criticized and afraid someone might think poorly of her that avoided participating. I suggested Amy drop the group class and switch to individual so we could focus on self compassion, believe in her goodness and tame her inner critic. Focusing on these things first got her into a place where learning could take place.


Ones monitor what they say, how they say it, with a very critical internal voice that scolds them for what they do wrong. They try to live up to the internal standards of what they believe to be behavior beyond reproach. When Ones take on a task, their intention is to do it right. Their mission is to seek perfection and avoid mistakes.

Whenever I hung out with my friend, just being around her made me a better mom. She had amazing tolerance for what I found to be difficult. She was patient and kind to EVERYONE else, except herself. She held herself to a very high standard. I didn’t get many glimpses inside her head but from what I could see, she had a ferocious drill sergeant who did not give her any of the credit she truly deserved.

Ones can be serious, single minded, and driven to work hard, while also being highly critical of themselves and others. If you are remodeling your kitchen or having brain surgery, you WANT to work with a One!

Ones are diligent, responsible, organized, and TIRED. But instead of resting when tired, they try to complete all the tasks thinking once everything is done, they can rest. Ones have difficulty relaxing unless on vacation because there is work to be done (and they dislike delegating).


Raising an ADHD kid who did not take school seriously was a huge stress on Julia. She couldn’t stand his lackadaisical attitude and procrastination and felt tied up in knots on a daily basis. But when she was on vacation, nothing stressed her out. She loved being “vacation mom”, so relaxed and open, so we studied her and figured out how to bring vacation Julia, back into everyday life at home.

Ones are highly discerning and try to do the best job possible, down to the smallest detail. They try to behave perfectly to cover up a deep fear of being flawed. Ones control their anger and disapprove of expressing anger, but can be judgmental and critical of their partner, their kids, the schools, coaches, etc. “There’s no excuse for being late.”

Christina didn’t take her perfectionism out on her 16 year old, but instead turned it onto the school system she was a part of. Everyday she’d pick her daughter up at school and interview her for pain, looking for injustices and problems she could help her solve. She thought the way to show her love was to have her back against a common enemy. Together they would bad mouth the teachers, the school system, and her friends. This made Christina feel aligned and connected with her daughter, but it was a catch 22. Her teen felt the only way to make her mom happy, was to focus on her unhappiness. She felt she had to choose between betraying her mom or betraying the system she was participating in.

Ones look for fault in other people because it allows them to feel better in comparison.

“Everyone needs to do their part to make the world a better place.”

“Why can’t anyone do anything right?”

Questions to help decipher your type:

  1. Do you have a constant internal critic, that you’ve had since you were a child, that never gives you an atta girl, that you aren’t behaving appropriately and you don’t have what it takes.
  2. Do you have a constant need for self-improvement, while knowing that no one will ever be perfect?
  3. Do you have a hard time relaxing, having fun, and getting away from your responsibility unless you are on vacation?

What is this Supermom’s Kryptonite? A disintegrated One mom might…..

  • Fixate on small imperfections “There’s no excuse for being late.”The question “Will this matter 10 years from now?” is a great daily question Ones can ask themselves.
  • Obsess and micromanage (Checking powerschool everyday? Focusing on one tardy or A-)
  • Need to fix everything that is broken in the world and get resentful when others don’t share their beliefs about right and wrong. “Cows are the biggest producers of carbon emissions so if we care about the planet we shouldn’t eat meat.” Ones don’t want their beliefs to be challenged. “Let’s agree to disagree” is a difficult concept for Ones.
  • Analysis paralysis can cause procrastination. You want to organize the playroom but since there is no way to do it perfectly, you leave it a mess and get resentful that no one else is annoyed or helping you with it.
  • Difficulty feeling satisfied. Ones can be an exemplary role model parent to everyone else but they don’t feel the inner satisfaction because their inner critic keeps telling them unless you are perfect, you suck.
  • Difficulty delegating to others and spending time and money on relaxation and self care because the voice in their head says they don’t deserve it and it’s not “ morally good”.“I’ll load the dishwasher because I’ll have to do it again anyway because you won’t do it right.”

What perfectionistic Ones use life coaching for:

  • Tame the inner critic and increase compassion for self and others.
  • Develop an inner cheerleader who gets equal headspace.
  • To relax, have more fun, and feel more serene. Learn when to take off the Supermom cape, and when to put it back on.
  • Add humor, levity and lightheartedness into parenting.

Example: Davina came to life coaching feeling resentful that her kids liked their Dad more than her. He was more playful with them and she knew it. She wanted to be more fun loving but felt like there was too much work to get done. Davina’s hard work ethic served her well in her career but at home it was costing her connection with her family. She couldn’t stand watching them lounge on the weekend, not doing anything productive.

Through coaching, Davina became aware of this mean critical voice in her head that said “relaxing is bad, productivity is good.” (all the time, everyday, no matter what). She learned that her main motivation for working so hard was a fear of what this inner critic was going to say the minute she sat down and stopped working. She decided to see this voice as a prison guard, keeping her locked in this “all work and no play” prison. Instead of pretending this prison guard wasn’t there, she befriended it. She would negotiate with it saying “I promise I’ll go to the gym tomorrow morning if you’ll step aside for two hours tonight while I watch a movie with my kiddos.”

As Davina took the pressure off herself, she was able to take the pressure off her family, too, and allow them to relax.

Small action steps Ones can take to grow in a positive direction:

  1. Start celebrating mistakes. Purposefully do things wrong, slack off, drop a ball, and celebrate it with your family. Leave the dishes in the sink just to prove you can. Don’t contribute anything to the class party. This will help you become more flexible, increase levity, and show that inner perfectionist who’s boss.
  2. Redefine your definition of success. Many Ones define success as “doing everything right”. Think about the people you admire, that you consider successful. What is it about them that looks like success to you? Often, Ones will notice things like “balanced” “fun loving” along with “passionate and driven”.
  3. Create a “Relaxation Challenge” – Ones like improving themselves so instead of seeing relaxation as something you earn after all your work is done and perfect, see it as a task to complete. Start with 5 minutes of guilt free relaxation and set the timer. Work your way up to 30 minutes in the middle of the day. Do research showing the benefit of midday naps, sitting in the sunshine, or just savoring a cup of tea while staring into space. By flipping the script and making relaxation a chore and a challenge, ones can increase balance and joy in their lives.


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