Enneagram Type 1s Explained – A Complete Guide (The Reformer)

Enneagram Type 1s Explained – A Complete Guide (The Reformer)

The Enneagram system categorizes human personality into nine distinct types. Each type has its perspective, motivations, and patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Enneagram Type 1, the Reformer or Perfectionist, is conscientious, rational, and detail-oriented. They strive to improve themselves and the world. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of Type 1s.


The Enneagram categorizes personality into nine types that see the world differently. Type 1s are motivated by integrity, ideals, and perfection. They want to live purposefully, act ethically, and improve everything around them. Type 1s desire perfection and are driven by an inner critic that points out flaws within themselves, others, and the world. This motivates them to be self-controlled, rational, and hard-working in pursuit of excellence. However, their perfectionistic tendencies can lead to frustration, anger, and rigidity when reality falls short of their high standards. With growth and development, Type 1s can learn self-compassion and accept imperfection while still pursuing what is good.

The Motivations and Desires of Type 1

Type 1s are motivated by integrity, purpose, ideals, and perfection. They want to live in alignment with their principles and values, which gives them a sense of meaning. Type 1s desire perfection within themselves, others, and the world. They are driven by a strong inner critic that points out flaws and errors. This critic propels their self-improvement efforts and growth. Some typical desires of Type 1s include:

  • Living ethically and with integrity
  • Improving themselves to meet high standards
  • Making the world more just, fair, and righteous
  • Having order and structure in their environment
  • Achieving completeness and correctness

For example, a Type 1 may strive to keep a perfectly tidy home, follow a healthy diet and exercise regimen, and volunteer regularly because these align with their ideals. Their inner critic will point out any shortcomings or hypocrisy.

The Strengths of Type 1

Type 1s excel in many areas because of their principles, rationality, self-control, and work ethic. Their key strengths include:

– Integrity and ethics: Type 1s work to align their values and actions. Their intentions are good.
– Rational: They logically analyze situations to determine the right thing to do.
– Self-control: Type 1s responsibly manage their time, emotions, and behaviors.
– Striving for excellence: They work diligently and aim high in pursuit of quality.
– Well-organized: Type 1s create orderly systems and are detail-focused.
– Role models: They try to practice what they preach and be mentors.

A Type 1 boss, for example, will work hard to create a fair, ethically run workplace with clear guidelines and expectations. Their team knows this leader has integrity and will make wise, thoughtful decisions.

The Weaknesses of Type 1

The perfectionistic tendencies of Type 1s can also lead to areas of struggle, especially when reality does not meet their high standards. Their key weaknesses include:

  • Perfectionism leads to frustration: Type 1s may spend so much time on improvements that they fail to act or accept “good enough.”
  •  Critical of self and others: Their inner critic judges themselves and others harshly.
  • May neglect relationships and enjoyment: Type 1s can become so focused on tasks that they overlook people and fun.
  • Rigid and controlling: They may micromanage to ensure correctness.
  • Difficulty acknowledging own flaws. Type 1s hold such high standards that they struggle to recognize their mistakes.
  • Anger when ideals are compromised: They can become morally inflexible under stress.

For example, a Type 1 colleague may frequently point out typos in an email or issues with a project plan rather than celebrating the progress. Their criticism of others often reflects their self-judgment.

Growth Tips for Type 1

While all personality types have areas for growth, here are some tips to help Type 1s flourish:

  • Accept imperfection in yourself and the world – Understand you live in a flawed world and be at peace with yourself.
  • Balance ideals with understanding – Empathize with others; don’t expect perfection.
  • Celebrate small wins – Praise yourself and others for the progress made.
  • Let go of anger – See the humanity in all people, even when they fall short.
  • Develop self-compassion – Treat yourself as kindly as you would a friend.
  • Appreciate the present – Don’t just focus on future improvements; enjoy the now.

Case Study: Jessica’s Journey

Jessica is a 32-year-old Type 1 who sought counseling because her perfectionism harmed her health and relationships. She micromanaged her staff, criticized her husband’s behavior, and worked nights and weekends obsessing over improving processes. With the help of her counselor, Jessica learned self-compassion, embracing imperfection, better work-life balance, and how to celebrate wins. A year later, Jessica is thriving. Her marriage and work satisfaction improved dramatically. She has more friends, enjoys hobbies, and has learned to be less critical of herself and others while still pursuing excellence. Jessica’s story demonstrates that with self-awareness and a commitment to growth, Type 1s can harness their strengths while overcoming their weaknesses.


Enneagram Type 1s are principled, thoughtful, rational, and driven to improve themselves and the world. Their desire for perfection, ethically driven ideals, and inner criticism can lead to growth but frustration and rigidity when reality falls short. With self-compassion, managing criticism, and learning to accept imperfection, Type 1s can find balance and contentment while still pursuing excellence. Their unique personalities contribute an important ethical voice to families, friendships, workplaces, and communities.