Tag Archives: Type 1

What Drives Us?


(Photo credit: Our Hero)

One of the things I like about the type profiles in Don Riso and Russ Hudson’s Personality Types is the succinct “Key Motivations” they describe for each type. Since my score on their Enneagram test (way back when) had only a one-point difference between 8 and 7, reading the Key Motivations helped make it abundantly clear to me that I’m an 8w7, not a 7w8.

Recently, I incorporated these Key Motivations and some of Jerome Wagner’s information on the shadow into descriptions of what drives each type. This was for a group I’ve been working with in which everyone knows their type. During the group discussion, it became clear that some people think these are conscious motivations. As conscious motivations, they seem somewhat objectionable or at least unflattering. But they’re not conscious, they’re unconscious. Enneagram behavior is automatic, or autopilot, behavior. It’s the opposite of conscious behavior.

1s, for example, don’t wake up in the morning and tell themselves nothing is more important to them that day than being right. I don’t get up in the morning and tell myself I’m off to assert myself and prevail over my environment.

Our unconscious motivations are like hidden—at least to us—agendas. They’re more obvious to others because other people see only what we do and say and how we react. They see us from the outside. They don’t have access to our inner experience or personal history. More importantly, they don’t have access to the stories and explanations we’re constantly spinning that tend to obscure our agendas and keep them hidden from us.

No matter how hard we try, we can’t uncover our unconscious motivation by looking inward. If we want to understand what drives us, we have to look not at what we think or feel or want to do, but at what we actually do.

Socrates was only partly wrong that the “unexamined life is not worth living.” The key is the kind of self-examination people perform, and the extent to which people attempt to know themselves solely by looking inward, versus looking outward at their own behavior and how others react to them.

–Timothy D. Wilson, Strangers to Ourselves

Paying attention to what we do is a great focus for self-observation. And paying attention to what we do pays off, too, because as long as our agendas are hidden from us, we’re stuck being at the effect of them.

Unconscious Motivation for the Nine Types

[Note: Key Motivations from Personality Types are in italics.]

1s are compliant to their idealistic obligations, moving toward what will help them earn righteousness and resisting the inner impulses that might lead them astray. To keep their angry impulses out of their awareness, they do the opposite of what they are inclined to do (instead of confronting someone, being nice to him or her; instead of being sexual, becoming puritanical). They tend to be concerned with what is right in front of them (subject, as are the other two Compliant types, to what has been called “the tyranny of the immediate moment”). They tend to play by the rules and expect others to do so, too. They want to be right, to have integrity and balance, to strive higher and improve others, to be consistent with their ideals, to justify themselves, to be beyond criticism so as not to be condemned by anyone. Type 1 is called The Good Person, The Achiever, The Reformer, and The Perfectionist.
Keyword: Principle

2s are compliant to their need to be seen as friendly and helpful by others, so they move toward what will help them earn attention and approval. They tend to be concerned with what is right in front of them (subject, as are the other two Compliant types, to what has been called “the tyranny of the immediate moment”). They tend to recognize the needs of others and are happy to roll up their sleeves to tackle others’ problems while pushing their own into the background. Because their own needs make them anxious, they keep them out of their awareness by repressing them. They project their needs onto others (so other people are needy, but they aren’t). They want to be loved, to express their feelings for others, to be needed and appreciated, to get others to respond to them, to vindicate their claims about themselves. Type 2 is called The Helper, The Giver, The People Pleaser, and The Partner.
Keyword: Persuasion

3s aggressively attempt to maintain both an inner and an outer image of success, moving against anything that prevents them from attaining their goals. To keep failure out of their awareness, they identify with whatever successful mask or role they are playing at the time. They identify with their roles instead of with themselves. Like the other Aggressive types, they tend to hurry through the present and not give much thought to the past. They will play by the rules if that works for them, but they’re willing to bend the rules in order to meet their goals or objectives. They want to feel valuable and worthwhile, to be affirmed, to distinguish themselves, to have attention, to be admired, and to impress others. Type 3 is called The Performer, The Succeeder, The Motivator, and the Status Seeker.
Keyword: Performance

4s withdraw in order to nurture an internal image of uniqueness, moving away from anything that triggers a sense of something lacking. In order to avoid experiencing the common and ordinary, whenever anything seems bland they turn it into something extraordinary or dramatic. Like the other Withdrawing types, they tend to focus on the past, often feeling victimized by it. They tend to feel like they’re on the outside to begin with and are very sensitive to slights and perceived slights (lack of support). They are easily hurt. They want to be themselves, to express themselves in something beautiful, to find the ideal partner, to withdraw to protect their feelings, to take care of emotional needs before attending to anything else. Type 4 is called The Individualist, The Tragic Romantic, The Artist, and The Sensitive Person.
Keyword: Passion

5s doubt their ability to deal effectively with the external world, so they withdraw into their own minds to avoid coming in contact with anything that might make them feel inadequate. To avoid feeling empty, they isolate themselves in their heads away from their feelings and other people. They focus on their thoughts in order to make themselves feel full and comfortable. They also isolate or compartmentalize one time period—or aspect—of life from another. Like the other Withdrawing types, they tend to focus on the past and often reflect on their prior experiences. They aren’t interested in following rules. They don’t like being a part of the system, so they prefer to do things their own way. They want to be capable and competent, to master a body of knowledge and skill, to explore reality, to remain undisturbed by others, to reduce their needs. Type 5 is called The Observer, The Investigator, The Knowledge-Seeker, and The Thinker.
Keyword: Privacy

Because they are anxious about their inner worlds and the external world, 6s move toward whatever—and whomever—they believe will make them feel safe and secure. 6s are the most anxious of the three Thinking center types. They project onto others their own sense of disobedience and rebellion. Other people are trying to get away with things, and 6s need to monitor their activities and bring them in line with their authority’s principles. Or others are trying to trip them up and trap them. They tend to be concerned with what is right in front of them (subject, as are the other two Compliant types, to what has been called “the tyranny of the immediate moment”). They want to be seen as strong and reliable, but at the same time they want to feel supported by others. They can get defensive. They want to have security, to feel supported, to have the approval of others, to test the attitudes of others toward them, to defend their beliefs. Type 6 is called The Loyalist, The Questioner, The Guardian, and The Devil’s Advocate.
Keyword: Participation

7s want to avoid experiencing the pain that could result from their own thoughts and feelings, so they aggressively move against whatever gets in the way of their happiness and contentment by focusing on external events and activities. To keep pain out of their awareness, they sublimate it and turn it into something interesting or good. They automatically look for the good in everything. So they might celebrate the new life of a deceased loved one rather than mourn their loss. Like the other Aggressive types, they tend to hurry through the present as they make plans for the future. They tend to be more focused on their own needs and often fail to notice the needs (and problems) of others. They want to be happy and satisfied, to have a wide variety of experiences, to keep their options open, to enjoy life and amuse themselves, to escape anxiety. Type 7 is called The Adventurer, The Epicure, The Generalist, and The Enthusiast.
Keyword: Pleasure

8s aggressively assert themselves against others and the environment, moving against what gets in the way of their pursuit of their agendas. To prevent weakness from showing up in their awareness or persona, they deny any presence of it (the real kings and queens of denial). Like the other Aggressive types, they tend to hurry through the present and not give much thought to the past. They are comfortable in the supportive role, but they don’t want to need other people, so they keep their guard up to prevent others from getting too close. They are easily angered. They want to be self-reliant, to resist their weakness, to have an impact on the environment, to assert themselves, to stay in control, to prevail over others, to be invincible. Type 8 is called The Challenger, The Confronter, The Leader, the Asserter (and a few other things that are unprintable).
Keyword: Power

9s withdraw so others won’t disturb their inner peacefulness, moving away from anything that triggers a sense of distress and discomfort, whether it’s internal or external. To avoid conflict, they numb their feelings, wants, and preferences. They make everything the same and highlight nothing. They make molehills out of mountains. Like the other Withdrawing types, they are focused on the past and tend to ruminate about what happened, both good and bad. They try to pay attention to others’ needs as well as their own; as a result, they often become overwhelmed so they tune out instead of responding to either. They want to have serenity and peace of mind, to create harmony in their environment, to preserve things as they are, to avoid conflicts and tension, to escape upsetting problems and demands on them. Type 9 is called The Peacemaker, The Preservationist, The Mediator, and the Universalist.
Keyword: Peace

Peace out. 🙂

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In the Shadow of Type 1: Anger

Angry Talk (Comic Style)

Angry Talk (Comic Style) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Be right, do right, and show others the way. 1s see themselves as being good, responsible, ethical, upright, firm, principled, visionary, dedicated, self-controlled, idealistic, moral, and hard-working. Lots of other people see them that way, too.

It’s admirable to be principled, to have goals to work toward, to want to better oneself—and by extension the world—to hold oneself to high standards, to maintain a strong work ethic, and to envision a better world. At least it’s admirable when these are authentic choices, when they are not forced on either others or oneself. When they are part of the compulsion, however, they can become destructive influences, creating more harm than good.


According to Jerome Wagner (The Enneagram Spectrum of Personality Styles) reaction formation is the primary defense mechanism of Type 1.

To keep your angry impulses out of your awareness, you do the opposite of what you are inclined to do. For example, instead of confronting someone, you are nice to him/her; or instead of being sexual, you become puritanical.

It’s not hard to understand why 1s would have angry impulses. For them, there’s an ideal of perfection for everyone, everything, and every situation to live up to or at least try to achieve. There’s a right way to be, a right way to do things, and a right way that things should be. 1s notice the ways in which things are not as they should be. And there’s a lot to notice, since seldom do people (including them) or situations live up to the ideal. Furthermore, it must appear as though most of the rest of us are not even trying to live up to it.

Not My Way, The Way

1s don’t see these ideas of perfection as emanating from or being determined by themselves. They just are. 1s may not particularly want to have to live up to them, either. But gosh darn it, they are doing their best to live up to them and are only too aware and self-critical when they feel they miss the mark. The rest of us ought to be doing the same.

Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.

–Salvador Dali

Some people believe that everything is already perfect. Others think that nothing and no one is or ever will be perfect. Certainly one person’s definition of perfection isn’t going to be the same as another’s.  The notion that there is one right way to be and to do things creates a type of psychic rigidity that leads to paying attention to what’s missing and what’s wrong instead of seeing the truth and beauty in what is.

That particular focus of attention—along with the compulsion to always be good—creates a great deal of resentment and anger that can’t be acknowledged. Experiencing and expressing this anger would be inappropriate (bad and wrong). So anger and all of its variations and permutations exist in the shadowland of 1s. The longer it is denied and festers, the less 1s are able to achieve wholeness and integrity.

Becoming Aware

In The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Riso and Hudson suggest 1s learn to recognize and process their anger.

While you do not act out your anger or pretend it is not there, you hold a lot of it in your body, so any kind of therapeutic massage or energy work can be extremely beneficial for you. Similarly, yoga or simple stretching exercises can do wonders for your physical and emotional well-being. You can also become aware of ways that you unconsciously hold your body in certain postures, or how you may use more tension than necessary when performing even simple tasks.

This is a good approach, since 1s are “body” types (in the Doing center).

I’ve always remembered this bit from Angeles Arrien’s book, The Fourfold Way, which is a good set of recommendations for anyone:

Show up.
Pay Attention.
Tell the Truth.
Don’t be Attached to the Outcome.

As a practice for 1s, it could be slightly rephrased as:

Be authentic and fully engaged.
Be present with what is–as it is–not as you think it should be.
Be honest rather than judgmental, first with yourself and then with others.
After you’ve done your best, let go of the results.

~ ~ ~

Perfection is a trifle dull. It is not the least of life’s ironies that this, which we all aim at, is better not quite achieved. 

–W. Somerset Maugham

Songs for the Road (the list)

If you’re travelin’, you need a road song, and everyone loves a good road song, right? But not everyone likes the same song or moves to the same beat. So here’s my list of road songs by type:

Type 1: The Higher You Climb (Dan Fogelberg)

You get a little bonus hit of Down the Road as an intro.

Type 2: I’ll Take you There (Staple Singers)

Type 3: I Can Walk on Water (Basshunter)

Type 4: Runnin’ Down a Dream (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)

Type 5: Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Green Day)

Type 6: Road to Nowhere (Talking Heads)

Type 7: I’ll Follow the Sun (the Beatles)

Type 8: I Can’t Drive 55 (Sammy Hagar)

Type 9: Every Day Is a Winding Road (Sheryl Crow)

Type 1: Embrace Your Inner Prodigal

1s want to do whatever they do correctly. They are driven to always be right, upright, (sometimes even righteous), as well as conscientious, ethical, and moral. They have an image of perfection they try to realize, and their fear is that they can’t measure up–they’re not good enough, proper enough, or conscientious enough to attain it.

So they strive mightily to prove to themselves and others how principled and ethical and responsible and hard-working they are. It can be a pretty tough row to hoe. Perfection is an ideal that is rarely fully realized in the real world. Chasing after it can make 1s very intense and sometimes even, dare we say, rigid.

If 1s accept the fact that, trite though it sounds, nobody’s perfect and it’s OK not to be (and do) right all the time, they may find it easier to relax a little and focus on the bigger picture. The same degree of scrutiny does not need to be applied to everyone and everything. Mistakes were made. Stitches were dropped. Commas were misplaced. Life is irregular and messy and imperfect. Sometimes that’s the best thing about it!

So if you’re a 1, let yourself go out and do something haphazardly or casually. You know you have it in you. Let yourself off the hook for your past transgressions. They’re what make you human. They’re what make it possible for other people to relate to you.

Your true value–what you have to offer the rest of us–doesn’t lie exclusively in crossing all the i’s and dotting all the t’s, except when you’re proofreading. Otherwise good enough is often good enough.

Next Friday: Type 2: Embrace Your Inner Pip-Squeak

Type 1 Shopper

The latest in a series of Type comics. Also see Type 7, Type 4, Type 9, and Type 2.

Songs for the Road: Doing Center

There was a great little piece in the Enneagram Monthly some 15 years ago called “Enneagram Voicemail Codes,” by Lahar Goldberg. It was short, succinct, laugh-out-loud funny—and painfully accurate. As Sheldon said when he explained a joke on the TV show The Big Bang Theory: “It’s funny because it’s true.”

Enneagram Voicemail Codes

If you know exactly what you want…press 1
If you want to help, press…2
If you have a great idea that could make us a lot of money…press 3
If you’re feeling abandoned…press 4
If you don’t want to talk to anyone…press 5
If you don’t know what you want…press 6
For a good time…press 7
If you want to tell us what to do and how to do it…press 8
If you feel irritated, but you need to take a nap…press 9

So I thought it would be amusing and maybe even somewhat illuminating to compile, with a little help from my friends, a list of traveling songs for each type.

Because there are three Centers of Intelligence within the Enneagram and three types within each center, I’ve decided to focus first on the three Doing center types and cover the Feeling center types and Thinking center types in subsequent posts.

Road Songs for Doing Center Types

Maybe it’s because I’m a Doing type, but nine points or nine lenses or even nine types all seem entirely too static—thus the name for the blog, Nine Paths. I think the Enneagram describes the different approaches we take to life and the different ways in which we move through it. Type influences the paths we take, as well as how we proceed along them and what we see on the way. So as we travel our respective paths, let’s queue up some type-appropriate road songs. [As a Type 8 with a strong 7 wing, my own impulse is to keep moving, but to enjoy the ride as much as possible.] Continue reading

Don, Don, He’s a 1!

Don and I have been critiquing each other’s writing for about five years. Shortly after we met, he completed an Enneagram test that figured him to be a 9. I didn’t know him very well then, so a 9 he was. Although every once in a while I wondered about that, we never talked about the Enneagram until I decided to start this blog, at which time he completed my Stance Keyword Comparison Checklist. The results indicated he was a Compliant type, and we soon determined he’s a 1w9—a profile that fits him much better and explains quite a lot.

So, in one corner of the critique ring, wearing the white trunks, we have:

Do It the Right Way (Don)

and over in the other corner, wearing the black trunks:

Do It My Way (me)

Thank goodness for the moderating influence of our wings, his 9 and my 7. Sure, we’ve had a couple of minor skirmishes. One time when we were meeting as part of a critique group in a bookstore café, I took the lid off my cup of coffee, and the person to my right backed away from the table, assuming I intended to toss the contents at Don. But no knockout punches have been delivered to date and no liquid refreshments have been tossed. Continue reading