The Perfectionist: One of the Nine Enneagram Types

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Donovan - Life Coach

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Have you ever felt like you were your own worst critic? Like you could always do better, be better, or achieve more? Have you ever noticed yourself nitpicking details, correcting mistakes, or striving for excellence in everything you do? If so, you might relate to the Perfectionist, one of the nine Enneagram types.

The Enneagram is a system of personality that describes nine distinct ways of seeing the world, coping with challenges, and expressing oneself. Each type has its own set of traits, strengths, weaknesses, fears, and motivations. Understanding the Enneagram can help you gain insight into your patterns of behaviour, as well as the behaviour of others.

In this article, I’ll explore the Perfectionist type in more detail, including its core characteristics, common subtypes, and practical tips for working with its tendencies. Whether you’re a Perfectionist yourself or you know someone who is, this article will help you deepen your understanding of this complex and fascinating type.

Characteristics of the Perfectionist

The Perfectionist, also known as Type One, is characterized by a deep sense of responsibility, a high standard of excellence, and a critical eye towards oneself and others. Here are some key traits of the Perfectionist:

  • Strives for perfection in everything they do, often set high standards for themselves and others
  • Values integrity, honesty, and fairness, and seeks to live by a clear set of principles or ideals
  • Tends to be self-critical, harsh, or judgmental, especially when it comes to mistakes or flaws
  • Can be rigid, inflexible, or dogmatic, adhering to rules or conventions even when they don’t make sense
  • May struggle with anger or resentment, either towards themselves or others who don’t meet their expectations
  • May be seen as overly serious, responsible, or uptight, and may struggle to relax or have fun
  • May have a strong sense of inner critic or superego, constantly monitoring or correcting their behaviour

These traits can manifest in different ways depending on the individual, as well as their level of health and maturity. Some Perfectionists may be more focused on external perfectionism, such as maintaining a clean and orderly environment or achieving professional success. Others may be more concerned with internal perfectionism, such as cultivating a sense of inner peace or living up to spiritual or ethical ideals.

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Subtypes of the Perfectionist

In addition to these core characteristics, the Perfectionist type can be further divided into three subtypes, each with its unique focus and expression:

  1. Self-Preservation Perfectionist: This subtype is concerned with physical security, comfort, and well-being. They may focus on achieving financial stability, maintaining good health, or creating a comfortable home environment. They may be more practical, organized, and detail-oriented than other Perfectionist subtypes.

  2. One-to-One Perfectionist: This subtype is concerned with intimate relationships, emotional depth, and personal growth. They may focus on developing close connections with others, exploring their own emotions and beliefs, or pursuing spiritual or creative interests. They may be more introspective, empathetic, and idealistic than other Perfectionist subtypes.

  3. Social Perfectionist: This subtype is concerned with social status, influence, and impact. They may focus on making a difference in their community, achieving recognition or respect from others, or promoting social change. They may be more assertive, ambitious, and outgoing than other Perfectionist subtypes.

While each subtype shares the core traits of the Perfectionist, they may prioritize different values, goals, or strategies for achieving perfectionism. Understanding the subtype of a Perfectionist can help you tailor your interactions and support to their specific needs and concerns.

Strengths of the Perfectionist

Despite their challenges and struggles, the Perfectionist type also has many strengths and positive qualities. Here are some of the strengths of the Perfectionist:

  • High standards of excellence: The Perfectionist can set the bar high for themselves and others, which can lead to exceptional achievements and accomplishments.

  • Sense of responsibility: The Perfectionist takes their duties and obligations seriously, which can make them reliable and trustworthy.

  • Commitment to integrity: The Perfectionist values honesty, fairness, and justice, which can make them a moral compass for others.

  • Attention to detail: The Perfectionist is attuned to the nuances and subtleties of their environment, which can help them notice and correct errors or inconsistencies.

  • Drive for improvement: The Perfectionist is always looking for ways to grow, learn, and develop, which can lead to personal and professional growth.

  • Capacity for self-reflection: The Perfectionist can examine their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours with a critical eye, which can lead to self-awareness and self-improvement.

These strengths can be a valuable asset for the Perfectionist and those around them, as long as they are balanced with self-compassion, flexibility, and openness to feedback.

Weaknesses of the Perfectionist

Of course, no type is without its weaknesses or blind spots. Here are some common weaknesses of the Perfectionist:

  • Self-criticism: The Perfectionist can be highly self-critical and judgmental, which can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, or inadequacy.

  • Rigidity: The Perfectionist can be inflexible or stubborn, sticking to their ideas or methods even when they are not working or helpful.

  • Criticism of others: The Perfectionist can be critical or judgmental of others who do not meet their high standards, which can lead to conflict or resentment.

  • Perfectionism: The Perfectionist can be so focused on achieving perfection that they overlook or ignore important details, opportunities, or relationships.

  • Anger: The Perfectionist can struggle with repressed or suppressed anger, which can lead to outbursts, resentment, or burnout.

  • Anxiety: The Perfectionist can experience high levels of anxiety, worry, or stress, which can interfere with their ability to relax or enjoy life.

These weaknesses can be mitigated by cultivating self-compassion, flexibility, and openness to feedback, as well as developing a sense of humour, playfulness, and creativity.

How a Life Coach Can Help The Perfectionist

A life coach can also be a helpful resource for the Perfectionist. A life coach can provide guidance, support, and accountability in achieving goals and overcoming obstacles. They can also help the Perfectionist to develop self-compassion, flexibility, and a growth mindset, which can be essential in managing perfectionism.

A life coach can help the Perfectionist to:

  • Identify their core values and priorities: By clarifying what is truly important to them, the Perfectionist can align their actions and goals with their deeper motivations, rather than external expectations or pressures.
  • Set realistic and achievable goals: A life coach can help the Perfectionist to set goals that are challenging yet achievable, and to break them down into manageable steps. This can help the Perfectionist to avoid the trap of all-or-nothing thinking and to celebrate progress along the way.
  • Challenge limiting beliefs and self-criticism: A life coach can help the Perfectionist to recognize and challenge their negative self-talk and beliefs, and to reframe them in a more positive and realistic light. This can help the Perfectionist to build resilience and self-confidence.
  • Embrace imperfection and flexibility: A life coach can help the Perfectionist to practice self-compassion and self-acceptance, and to embrace imperfection and flexibility as essential parts of the growth process. This can help the Perfectionist to overcome their fear of failure or mistakes, and to approach challenges with a growth mindset.
  • Develop healthy coping strategies: A life coach can help the Perfectionist to develop healthy coping strategies for managing stress, anxiety, or other negative emotions that may arise from perfectionism. This can include mindfulness practices, self-care routines, or communication skills for setting boundaries and managing expectations.

Overall, a life coach can be a valuable ally for the Perfectionist in navigating the challenges and opportunities of life. By working together, the Perfectionist can learn to harness their strengths and overcome their weaknesses, and lead a fulfilling and meaningful life.

FAQs about the Perfectionist

Q: How can I support a Perfectionist in my life? A: The best way to support a Perfectionist is to offer them encouragement, validation, and appreciation for their efforts and achievements. Avoid criticizing or judging them for their mistakes or flaws, and instead focus on helping them learn and grow from their experiences. Encourage them to practice self-compassion and relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness, meditation, or yoga.

Q: Is it possible to overcome perfectionism? A: Yes, it is possible to overcome perfectionism with time, effort, and practice. It requires developing a growth mindset, focusing on progress rather than perfection, and embracing imperfection as a natural part of the human experience. Therapy, coaching, or support groups can also help address underlying emotional or psychological issues that contribute to perfectionism.

Q: Are all Perfectionists the same? A: No, different subtypes of the Perfectionist prioritize different values or goals. Understanding the subtype of a Perfectionist can help you tailor your interactions and support to their specific needs and concerns.

Q: Can perfectionism be a positive trait? A: Yes, perfectionism can be a positive trait if it is balanced with self-compassion, flexibility, and openness to feedback. Perfectionism can lead to exceptional achievements and accomplishments, as long as it is not driven by fear, shame, or a need for external validation.

Q: What are some common careers for the Perfectionist? A: The Perfectionist may excel in careers that require attention to detail, high standards of excellence, and a commitment to integrity, such as:

  • Medicine or healthcare
  • Law or justice
  • Education or research
  • Science or engineering
  • Business or Finance
  • Design or architecture
  • Writing or editing
  • Art or music


The Perfectionist is one of the nine enneagram types, characterized by a desire for excellence, self-criticism, and a focus on detail. While the Perfectionist can be highly accomplished and reliable, they may also struggle with anxiety, self-criticism, and a tendency towards rigidity or inflexibility.

By cultivating self-compassion, flexibility, and openness to feedback, the Perfectionist can learn to harness their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. Understanding the subtype of a Perfectionist can also help you tailor your interactions and support to their specific needs and concerns. By embracing imperfection and focusing on progress rather than perfection, the Perfectionist can lead a fulfilling and meaningful life.

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