Enneagram One - The Perfectionist

Enneagram One - The Perfectionist

Posted on October 29, 2019

BY HANNAH STAPLETON, GRACE ATTENDER

Read the entire Enneagram series here.

Enneagram Ones are fierce warriors for justice. At their very best, they are full of integrity, service, and forgiveness (both to themselves and others). But unhealthy Ones fixate on the imperfections around them and micromanage big time. To Ones, errors jump out at them and demand to be corrected—that’s why they are perfectionists. Ones have a fierce Inner Critic in their heads, always telling them what’s wrong with others and themselves. That friend that is always tidying up your place when they visit—adjusting throw pillows and washing the mug in the sink? Probably a One.



That’s why the Passion or Deadly Sin of Ones is Anger/Resentment (could you guess they’re part of the Anger triad?). Ones want to correct the brokenness in the world, but they chase perfection out of fear of blame or punishment. Compounded to that, is their belief that “good people” don’t get angry, so Ones bury their own anger at the imperfections of the world. When they are in a period of growth, Ones look a lot like Sevens. They are self-accepting and spontaneous, able to focus on the good and not just the imperfections. When they are in periods of stress, they become more like unhealthy Fours—they long to be free of obligations, they lose confidence, and feel unlovable.

Lori Cramer (LC) is married to Doug (also an Enneagram One!) and is the mom of two girls. She loves teaching fitness classes for fun, so you can catch her dancing at Jazzercise or sweating at barre. Lori works from home part-time and stays busy with her kids' activities, leading a Life Group, and spending time with friends and family. She really hopes there are no spelling or grammatical errors in this to keep her up at night...

Anne O’Brien’s (AB) professional mission is to create inspiration and community by gathering people together in celebration of ideas. She works in event management with EDGE Mentoring, and serves in various freelance and consulting roles within the community. Previously, she was the VP of Marketing & Communications at the Center for the Performing Arts. She enjoys spending time with her husband Dan and two daughters, Grace (4) and Joy (2), serving at church, gathering with friends and daydreaming about vacations.
 
What’s your favorite thing about being a One?
LC: I'm very detail-oriented and care about the little things. Ones don't cut corners.
AB: I like that Enneagram 1s are able to add value to any situation by finding ways to improve and make things the best they can be.
 
What’s the worst or hardest thing about being a One?
LC: The hardest thing is how hard I am on myself in a never-ending quest for perfection. There is a constant voice in my head pointing out all the things that I should be doing better.
AB: I think the best thing about being an Enneagram 1 is also the worst. Because I am always finding ways to improve, I seem to be always finding imperfections and naturally have a harsh inner critic.
 
If you could describe your number in three words, what would you pick?
LC: Meticulous, critical, rule-follower (Does rule-follower count as one or two words?!? See, that genuinely bothers me...)
AB: Perfectionist, Hard-working, Dependable
 
When did you know you’d found your number?
LC: I took the WEPSS test in 2017 after I learned about it at Grace. I then read "The Road Back to You" and the chapter on Ones was scarily accurate.
AB: I first tested as a 9, but when I took another Enneagram test a year or so later, I got the result that I was a 1 - the Perfectionist. My first instinct was to re-take it to make sure it was correct. As I prepared to take it again, I realized that the fact itself that I wanted to re-take it to ensure accuracy proved I was indeed a 1. In the past 2 years I've done a lot of research and realized that although I have a lot of characteristics of the 9 as well (ultimately, I have a strong wing 9), I have a stronger inner motivation that is most true to the Enneagram type 1.
 
What’s one thing about your number you think everyone should know?
LC: If we are ever critical of you, it is meant with good intentions. As a One I'm constantly trying to improve myself, and I assume that others would also want to know how they could be better people as well. So, criticisms are our way of helping build you up, not bring you down.
AB: Enneagram 1s have a harsh inner critic directed at ourselves. I would like everyone to know that if someone who is an Enneagram type 1 ever expresses criticism or constructive feedback toward someone or something, just imagine and understand that their inner voice may be even louder at themselves. Personally, I have an inner voice constantly pointing out what I should have done/could do differently or better than what I do. A lot of energy is spent considering if I am being the best that I can be, and sometimes that means beating myself up or overly questioning my past or current decisions and actions.
 
What’s your wing? How does that play in to your dominant type?
LC: I am a wing Two. I really value relationships and have a lot of empathy. I want to help others so much that it leads to overextending myself. I tend to over-commit and then beat myself up for not doing a good enough job at helping.
AB: I have a wing 9, which I lean on a lot. I find that while I can sometimes be rigid and drawn towards controlling things to my liking, my 9 wing gives me a strong desire to go with the flow if that's what is better for the greater good. I also often avoid conflict as much as possible, which is helpful because I can hit the brakes if I am pushing too hard to make something perfect to my sometimes-unrealistic standard. I realized that I have traits of a 9 because I am a 1: I want to be perceived as good, and often times that's acting like a 9 and going with the flow in certain situations.
 

How does the Enneagram play into your vocation?
LC: I started off as a computer programmer and having a very logical, rule-based approach to life certainly lends itself well to writing software. Now I am a graphic designer and work with very technical documents and illustrations. Having a detail-oriented nature helps me spot errors and inconsistencies.
AB: My unique perspective due to being an Enneagram number 1 is helpful because it gives me a laser-like focus to plan complicated details on projects. I have worked in marketing/communication management and now work in event planning. I count on spreadsheets and detailed timelines. It can be a little overbearing at times, but overall it allows for great preparation and management within a team. I have found that I am also drawn to newer or start-up organizations that allow the opportunity for me to fill gaps within the business and then create framework and structure during a time of fast growth.
 
How does your knowledge of Enneagram affect or influence your relationships?
LC: Now that I know I'm a One, I try not to offer so much "helpful advice" to others. I also realize that it's not healthy to expect myself or those around me to be perfect. We all make mistakes and I'm learning to give grace, especially to myself. But I still have a very hard time with people who constantly break the rules.
AB: Knowledge of the Enneagram has been life-changing for me. I feel like I have a new language to better describe myself and why I act the way I do. It's been incredibly helpful within my marriage, within my career, and even in parenting. Most importantly, it allows me to extend grace to others and myself, which improves every relationship.
 
How does the Enneagram affect your faith? Do you use it as a spiritual practice?
LC: I find myself wishing that there were some formulas for spiritual practices. "Do x, y and z, and God will reveal to you which decision to make." Or, "always avoid such-and-such and God will spare you suffering." As a One, I need to remind myself that God's love and forgiveness can't be earned. There is no formula to hear from God right when you want to. There is grace and faith. God loves me despite my many failings. And God will speak and answer my prayers in His timing, which is unpredictable.
AB: The Enneagram has been very helpful in my faith in that it helps shine a spotlight on the specific areas where I need to lean more on God. It reminds me that we live in a broken world and that no human is perfect. Rather than trying to fill the unique gap that each Enneagram type has with things of this world, we can find wholeness through Jesus and the grace of God.
 
How does the Enneagram bring you closer to God, if it does?
LC: I'm not going to lie. I think it's really hard being a One. I wish I wasn't. I am constantly aware of my failings and constantly wanting to change and improve myself. I struggle with insecurity all the time. But then again, I'm also constantly aware of my need for forgiveness and my need for a God who IS perfect and never fails. His mercies are new every morning, and great is His faithfulness (Lam. 3:23).
AB: The self-knowledge that comes with studying the Enneagram allows me to better understand the specific strengths that God has given me, and where He may be leading me to live out my purpose. It has also given me a new framework to be able to see the face of God in others.
 
What are some resources you would offer to other Ones?
LC: I think the book, "The Road Back to You" is a great place to start. There are also podcasts out there if you prefer to listen, and of course, David Bell puts on many workshops that you can check out at egraminsight.com.
AB: My favorite resources are podcasts! A few good ones include:

  • Annie F. Downs' "The Sounds Fun" podcast series called the "EnneaSummer2019: Ones"

  • Local Enneagram teacher David Bell has also been on a few podcasts that have unveiled a wealth of knowledge for me -- specifically as a guest on the "Spoken Freely Podcast", Episode 12 pt. 4 covers Enneagram 1s.

  • The Instagram account @enneagramandcoffee is also just super fun about the Enneagram

  • Beth McCord - on Instagram as @Yourenneagramcoach - is a great resource about the Enneagram and the Christian faith.

Resources for Ones

The Enneagram Institute
Typology Podcast
The Road Back to You podcast with Ramsey Patton
Sleeping at Last “One”