TYPE ONE: The Perfectionist

If you are a Perfectionist, you are honest, responsible, and improvement-oriented with a strong belief that perfect people are worthy of love and respect.

You habitually focus your attention on what is right or wrong; correct or incorrect.


You are driven by anger which usually shows up as irritation, resentment and guilt at whatever appears wrong or does not meet high standards. Challenges for this industrious type include being overly critical, rigid and judgmental.

Each Enneagram Type has its own idealization, avoidance and defense mechanism which holds the idealization “in place”. 

IDEALIZED SELF-IMAGE: “I am correct and good”.


DEFENSE MECHANISM: Reaction formation; expressing the opposite of your real feelings in your behavior.

An example would be acting very friendly to someone you actually don’t like because you feel like that’s the right thing to do. (Usually you aren’t aware you are doing this on the spot).

VIRTUE: Serenity; state of being that is free of attachment to specific ways of doing things or needing things to be a certain way that you view as the good, right and correct way of doing things.

Remember a time when you were able to let go of control and allow things to be what they are, without judgment. 


Understand that rightness and correctness are not part of the natural order.

Compassion for the self.

Recognize and minimize the internal critical voice.

Allow time to relax, play and accept yourself as you are.

Feeling grateful for something helps keep our focus and energy on it.

This is helpful when working with the Enneagram because gratitude automatically shifts focus away from those things which habitually grab attention to perhaps more productive or nourishing things. Intentionally cultivating a gratitude practice is an excellent way to broaden our focus of attention.


Cultivate gratitude for small things. This can be as simple as appreciating nature. Ones tell us that nature is nourishing as they can’t, for instance, ask a tree to move a few inches as they walk in the woods. The woods or a creek are perfect as is.


Ones are detail conscious.

They appreciate small gestures: being on time, remembering names, proper instructions.

Notice effort and dependability.

General compliments sound false.

Cultivate character.

Set improvement goals. Don’t flaunt your achievements.

Speak respectfully.

Make sure no one feels foolish. Ask for permission.

Admit error immediately.

Admission clears the air and prevents resentment.

Maintain your own interests.

Ones work long hours on their own.

Avoid power struggles.

Ones need to be right so demonstrate how two right ways can co-exist side by side.

Bring novelty and fun to the relationship.

Ones tend to repeat what works.

Humor is especially helpful.

Worry vanishes with gentle humor.

Learning to recognize the patterns of type, accepting them with compassion and learning to relax them, brings us to the present moment where life can be experienced more fully. Recognizing these patterns in others helps us understand and relate to them.


Watch Leslie give a short introduction and explanation of Type One, The Perfectionist:

Interested in learning how we can support you through Enneagram typing or coaching? Click here.

Sources: Helen Palmer; Type One panelists; Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition

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