type 1 - the perfectionist

Updated: Apr 2, 2019

Do you even Enneagram? Episode 6

Okay, folks! We're back at it with the Enneagram today.


Not sure what the Enneagram is, or just getting started? Check out these earlier posts:

Episode 1 - What even IS the Enneagram?

Episode 2 - The Nine.

Episode 3 - Wings and Arrows.

Episode 4 - Type 9 - the Peacemaker.

Episode 5 - Type 8 - the Challenger.


Now that you're all caught up - I realize that I am proceeding out of numerical order, and I offer my apologies to all the Ones out there who are probably twitching because of this fact. However, I wanted to cover the Ones next because Ones complete the Instinct/Anger triad along with Nines and Eights. Unlike Eights, who externalize their anger, or Nines, who fall asleep to theirs, Ones stuff their anger. More about that in a minute.


Enneagram Ones' core fear is of being corrupt, evil or unprincipled - their core motivation and desire is to be good and have integrity.


Ones are usually the most principled, ethical, law abiding citizens around. They are methodical, efficient, ethical, reliable and hard workers. Ones make great engineers, lawyers, surgeons and teachers - any profession where attention to detail and adherence to specific protocols is valued, Ones will thrive.


The great downfall of the One is simply that it is not enough for them to monitor and manage their own behavior. Ones view the world as rife with errors and imperfections - little to nothing escapes their notice - and they believe it is their duty to point out and correct these errors in themselves and others. While this is incredibly frustrating to the recipients of the Ones "help", we can try to remember that the Ones do not do this out of a sense of superiority. We all carry with us an inner critic - a voice that criticizes us when we make a mistake, eat too many Oreos, or call our boss's wife by the wrong name. A One, however, has a super-charged version of that inner critic and it NEVER stops talking. Their harsh inner critic constantly judges, questions, shames and blames them to the point that Ones become terrified of making a mistake. The only relief available to them is to not only work to perfect themselves, but to help others do and be better as well. Ones really do believe that by pointing out your mistakes, or how you could do something better next time, they are helping you!


Ones excel at tasks where there is a logical procedure to follow and they are confident they'll be able to complete each step with perfection and precision. When a One procrastinates a task, it's because they are afraid they will make a mistake.


Ones' need for order and calm in the world will sometimes translate into a sense of a greater purpose or mission in life - a passion for righting wrongs and fighting injustice. When this happens, the healthy, passionate One can inspire others to rise to their cause as well. I suspect that, even though he is fictional, Superman is the quintessential One.


However, remember that I said Ones are part of the Anger triad and that they tend to stuff their anger? That anger, when not appropriately expressed, can bubble over and present to others as resentment ("I have to do everything around here or nothing gets done right!" or bitterness "Nothing ever goes right for me!").


Ones would do well to remind themselves that perfection is a myth, and that there is more than one right way to do things. In order to maintain healthy relationships and avoid alienating loved ones with your "helpful" suggestions, here are some things Ones might consider:


When your inner critic begins to abuse you again, stop. Take a moment and thank that voice for providing guidance all these years, and then gently let it know in no uncertain terms that you've got it from here;


Take a trip away from home. When Ones are out of their routines and away from their realm of responsibility, they can take on the more fun-loving and adventurous characteristics of a Seven. Vacations are particularly vital for Ones;


When you make a mistake, offer yourself forgiveness. You're human. You are going to mess up. It's okay - and you should let yourself off the hook;


Take on a new hobby - something you love but aren't necessarily good at. Give yourself permission to be bad at it and still have fun.


If you love a One, give them some grace. Remember the inner critic that constantly harangues them, and have mercy when they try to "help" you. And also, remember that they really do think they are HELPING. Ones correct and guide with pure intentions. Remember, too, that Ones are steadfast, loyal, ethical and principled. That in and of itself makes a One someone you're fortunate to have in your corner.


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