Illustration of Enneagram type 1

Enneagram Type 1 | The Improver

What it's Like to Be an Enneagram 1

What you will learn

Ones are idealistic, conscientious and have a lot of integrity. At their core, they are defined by their perceptions of right and wrong, and their commitment to doing things ‘right’. Ones act with self-discipline, determination and the ability to delay gratification for a brighter tomorrow.

Ones are great at improving what they feel needs improvement, but they have difficulties relaxing and allowing themselves, as well as others, to not be perfect at all times.

Strengths of Enneagram 1s

Are organized, hardworking and efficient
Are aware of and honest about what the world needs
Help others to be better people
Value fairness, justice and order
Do the right thing because it is right, not because someone told them
Introduction Video - What is the Enneagram?

Enneagram Type 1 in Depth

Ones are pragmatic and serious people who work hard to ensure they are the best version of themselves they can be. They put a lot of effort into making sure they’re doing the right thing at all times and are great at seeing how to improve and perfect things.

Organizational skills, self-discipline and honesty come easy to Ones. They have an awareness of what the world needs, are dedicated to the causes they pick up and persistent in the face of struggle. The high standards Ones have for themselves and others can make it hard for those around them to live up to the One’s expectation of what it means to do something ‘right’. It can be hard to change a One’s mind on something, since their identity is tightly connected to their need to be seen as a good person.

What motivates Enneagram 1s

Ones want their actions to be consistent with their beliefs and principles. They want to be people of integrity, justice and honesty, who are recognized for their impeccable character.

Ones belong to the Body group of the Enneagram, the same group as Eights and Nines. The types of this group have a special relationship with anger and control. Eights freely give in to their anger and control through aggression, while Nines fall asleep to their anger and give up control. Ones however try to control themselves by repressing and denying their anger, which makes it hard for them to adequately process it.

As children, Ones internalize the message that in order to be okay, they need to be ‘good’, which is defined by the people of authority in their lives. They consequently try to live up to those standards and develop fine antennas for where the border between ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ lies, and in doing so they forget that the world isn’t as black and white. Ones grow up with a strong internal set of morals and principles, which they naturally assume must be true for everyone, not just themselves – otherwise they wouldn’t be truly ‘right’.

What's often holding Enneagram 1s back

Ones believe that the world has an order that must be maintained and, where it was lost, restored. They are driven by a harsh inner critic who judges not only themselves, but by extension also the actions of others. They can’t help but see what is amiss in the world, and find letting things be, even if it’s just a tiny detail, challenging. In the eyes of a One, there is little breathing room between ‘perfect’ and ‘bad’.

The negative emotions Ones learn to repress in order to not ‘misbehave’ never go away, of course. Instead, they find other outlets. Ones can often feel cold, resentful and hypocritical – they pretend they’re not frustrated, but everyone in the room feels it. The person their hidden anger is usually directed at, however, is themselves: Because of course they are only human and therefore fail to meet their own standards just as much as anyone else. It’s just terribly hard for Ones to admit that.

When Ones become healthy, they learn to dethrone their inner critic as the unchallenged authority in their lives and suddenly find the freedom to relax, take it easy and let things be once in a while. They become wise but compassionate teachers and reformers with the strength to fight for what’s right and truly make a difference in the world.

The most important message for Type Ones is that their own and everyone else’s flawed nature is one of life’s normal components, and that no amount of work will ever make anyone ‘perfect’. Wanting to improve is good, but having grace with yourself and others is even better.

Famous Enneagram Type 1s

Enneagram 1s at Their Worst and Their Best

Your personality isn’t a fixed thing. People grow. While we don’t change our basic personality, we all can become more mature and healthy inside our personality. But at times, we also revert to less healthy behavior. This looks different for every personality type. Let’s see how it unfolds for Ones.

Average Type 1s

On average levels of psychological health, Ones have a super acute sense of right and wrong, and their life is strongly shaped by this inner compass. This applies to themselves more than anything. They feel the need to always do the right thing, so they are usually pretty disciplined, reliable, hard-working and try to have those pesky emotions under control. But because they put in so much effort into improving themselves, average Ones have a hard time seeing almost everyone else being irrational, undisciplined and lazy – in their mind. Because they can’t just scream at people – that would be wrong – their anger often turns into quiet resentment that’s boiling away under the surface.

Unhealthy Type 1s

When psychologically unhealthy, calm and rational Ones become surprisingly emotional, irrational and hurtful. Their inner resentment towards themselves and everyone else starts boiling over. Sometimes they manage to keep the outer appearance intact, only to indulge in all their ‘evil’ passions in secret, which they then are ashamed of and angry about, possibly leading to self-hatred. Every type can fall victim to a vicious cycle, and this is theirs.

Healthy Type 1s

Healthy Ones make for incredibly wise and discerning teachers. It helps that their inner drive allows Ones to work so hard. They have it easier than others to postpone immediate pleasure for later rewards. Healthy Ones are the great educators and makers of this world. Think of famous Ones like Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Ghandi: They become people who freely share their gift of teaching how to become a better version of yourself.

Wings of Enneagram Type 1

Your wing adds an additional flavor to your personality. Every personality type of the Enneagram can have either one of the two neighboring types as its wing. For Ones this means, they can have Type Nine or Type Two as their wing.

One with a Wing Nine

The peace-seeking Type Nine wing makes Ones more laid-back and relaxed. They are kinder to themselves and others and add a gentler touch to their need to improve. These Ones find it easier to back down, to listen and to explain their ideas and not be as resentful, but they can also have a harder time with procrastination and retreating from people.

Learn more

One with a Wing Two

With a Type Two wing, Ones become more caring and concerned for the well-being of others. Their Two wing gives them more compassion and empathy, but it can also increase their need for control. They can be more selfless, but also more manipulative in trying to turn people into who they think they should be.

Learn more

Common Mistypings for Enneatype 1

It’s not unusual that people are not sure which Enneagram personality type they really are. If that’s you, don’t worry, it’s totally normal. The Enneagram doesn’t just look at your behavior, but at the motivation behind your behavior. This means that some Types can look similar on the outside.

What happens most often for Type Ones is that they get confused with Type Eights. Sometimes, they also mistype themselves for Types Three and Six.

Since every type has two wings, you might also be unsure whether Type Two or Type Nine, your wings, might actually be your main type.

You can learn how to safely tell Type One apart from all the other Enneagram types here.

First Steps That Can Help Type 1s Grow

Finding out about your Enneagram type shouldn’t be the end of your journey of discovering your personality. The Enneagram is an amazing tool to help you on your journey to become more self-aware and self-accepting.

These five ideas are only a first step to get you started. Get your Full Report to find out much more about how you can use the Enneagram to become your healthiest self!

1. Befriend your inner critic

The next time the accusing and berating voice in your head tells you that you failed again, don’t hate yourself or try to repress or ignore it. Thank that voice for trying to help you improve and avoid mistakes, but let it know that you are on a better path to accepting yourself and don’t need its constant criticism anymore.

2. Double-Check Your Anger

When you feel that familiar anger over an injustice or a mistake someone made, take a second and reexamine where that anger comes from. Is it really this situation that’s bothering you, or is it something else that’s taking a side-door to vent?

3. Enjoy Adequacy

Pick a hobby you like even if you’re not very good at it – not to become better at it, but just because you enjoy it. If you find yourself procrastinating over something for fear of delivering anything less than perfect, ask yourself if this particular thing couldn’t be beautiful even if it’s just average.

4. Embrace Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. Forgive yourself for them, even learn from them, but don’t hate yourself when they happen. This will make it much easier to receive criticism from others, too. When you accept that you’re not perfect, you don’t need to become defensive when others point it out to you.

5. Expand Your Horizon

Each person is on their own path to their true self, and most of them will have views and standards that are different from yours. Try not to measure them against your own, but appreciate them for what they do right and let them know.

Your Full Report

How to become your healthiest and most thriving self

Learn more
Your Full Report will answer questions you have asked yourself all your life, like...
Why do people take the advice I offer so often as criticism?
Why am I so hard on myself when I do something wrong?
How can I learn to relax and take things easy without feeling bad about it?
How can I have more grace for my own mistakes and those of others?
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1 year ago

That part about starting to do things in secret because you can’t admit to it and the vicious cycle of shame and self-hatred… that hit a little too close to home.

Zoe Penggalen
Zoe Penggalen
1 year ago

I’m a type 2, but this is also so real for me. Guess I have a strong one wing…

1 year ago

Holy f**k you’re right about that inner critic. This guy has made my life miserable for as long as I can remember. People have told me for years not to be so hard on myself, but I always took that as just another criticism. This is the first time I feel like I’m allowed to be sad about it instead of angry at myself.

1 year ago

I took the test and my score matched 97 % the number one enneagram personality. It feels wonderful to know some more about why I act the way I do. I thought I was an extreme perfectionist and there was something wrong with me.

2 years ago

Wow, this is an eye-opener. Never heard of the Enneagram before. Actually, your site is the first I’ve ever come across breaking down different personality types. Interesting content indeed!

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