Enneagram Type One: Basic Characterisitcs and Arrows

taylor-grote-415994-unsplash“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” ― Leo TolstoyAnna Karenina

“Probably my worst quality is that I get very passionate about what I think is right.” —Hillary Clinton (Type One)

“If we can just let go and trust that things will work out the way they’re supposed to, without trying to control the outcome, then we can begin to enjoy the moment more fully. The joy of the freedom it brings becomes more pleasurable than the experience itself.” ― Goldie Hawn


Enneagram Type Ones in integration are the kind of citizens, neighbors, bosses, teachers, and leaders the world so desperately needs. Ones in health are reliable, honest, conscientious, and hardworking. They have a sincere desire to improve the world and do so with integrity. When healthy, Ones contribute an intuitiveness about the natural order of things to leadership-type roles. They brush off their inner critic and become content to live out their personal ideals of wisdom and rightness in their own livesaccepting the humanity of others with grace and magnanimity. When invited to do so, Ones offer discerning insight to problems and be very wise advisors—but this is not a compulsion, an integrated One allows others to be on their own path.

In autopilot, a Type One fixes their attention on perceived imperfections. They notice the two percent of a job done ninety-eight percent well. This hyper-focus on what needs to be changed or made perfect can push them to become unbalanced. A One will often find they have an incessant inner voice that speaks critically about themselves and others. They can often come across as very arrogant—too secure in their idea of their own rightness. Ones in autopilot can be excessively judgmental.

“Average Ones are particularly troubled by perceived inconsistency, either in themselves or others, and therefore they attempt to make all their behavior consistent, sensible, and justifiable.” (The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Riso and Hudson, pg. 112)

Type Ones often think and judge the world as “black and white”, there is no gray, no truth to be found on both sides of any given issue. When this kind of thinking takes over, Ones cut themselves off from healthy living. They unconsciously push others away with harsh judgments and relentless critical demands. They also exhaust themselves by trying to live correctly all the time. clinton-naik-176636-unsplashIf there is black and white, right and wrong, they can get stuck in always trying to do the right or correct thing—and therefore burn out. This when their long-repressed anger at themselves and others will come bursting forth in fits of rage. Self-control and self-restraint will quickly kick back in though, because the One does not condone anger as a good emotion, and they will, therefore, stuff it back down inside.

“[As children Ones renounced] the development of their true selves to please others and earn the love of people who have sent them the signal, ‘You’re okay only when you’re perfect.’ One children have the childhood driven out of them; too soon have they had to act like adults. Often they had to take on responsibility, very early on, for a family in which for one reason or another one of the parents was missing…” (The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective, Richard Rohr, pg. 50)


In stress, a Type One takes on the lower qualities and behaviors of a Type Four.

  1. Depressive and melancholy feelings emerge.
  2. They want to be free of the burden of perfection and lose themselves in fantasies and daydreams.
  3. Thoughts begin to circulate that no one understands them.
  4. Withdraw from others.
  5. Discipline and self-control collapse into storms of envy and resentment. They become suddenly dramatic about their feelings.

In health, a Type One takes on the higher qualities and behaviors of a Type Seven.


  1. Become more spontaneous and reactive to life’s surprises.
  2. Their inner critic relaxes and they enjoy each moment as it arises.
  3. More open to a variety of opinions.
  4. Curiosity, optimism, and a willingness to learn emerge.
  5. In relating to others with a more open-hearted attitude, they discover the joy, humor, and whimsy in life and often become more joyful and funny themselves.

If you are a Type One and would like to be interviewed for an upcoming blog post please fill out the form on the Contact Page and I will get in touch!

*Photos by Taylor Grote , Clinton Naik & Allef Vinicius on Unsplash


Leave a Reply