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Ever Wonder Why We Count to Three?

Ever Wonder Why We Count to Three?

January 9, 2007 was the day Steve Jobs introduced the first generation of the iPhone. It’s a seminal moment in technology history (and societal history) — the iPhone changed almost everything about how we interact with each other and brands, with Android and others soon following suit in the market. Beyond what the moment represented, the presentation itself is interesting.[1]

Jobs was famous for using expressions like “Wait, there’s more” or “Another thing” in his presentations, and he even opened the 2007 presentation by discussing the three revolutionary products they’d be introducing:

  • The first, a widescreen iPod with touch controls
  • The second, is a revolutionary mobile phone
  • And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device

    As the audience applauded, Jobs eventually said,

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    “Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices, they are one device and we are calling it iPhone!”

    The way Jobs structured his presentation is a concept called “The Rule of 3.” What is that exactly, and why is it so special?

    The Power of Three

    The Rule of 3 is a writing principle described in Roy Peter Clark’s book How To Write Short. It suggests that events or characters introduced in three are more humorous, satisfying, and effective in execution of a message and engaging the audience. The audience is more likely to remember the information conveyed and it makes the speaker appear knowledgeable while being both simple and catchy.

    Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights activist and preacher, was known for his uses of tripling and the Rule of 3 throughout his many influential speeches.

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      His speech “Non-Violence and Racial Justice” contained a binary opposition of the rule of three:[2]

      “insult, injustice and exploitation”,

      followed by a few lines,

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      “justice, good will, and brotherhood.”

      In short, a list of three things is more intriguing than just two things, but much easier to remember than 5 or 10 things. It’s more comprehensive with more options, but not too many options that can overwhelm the audience or anyone who needs to make a decision with this information.

      Consider a situation where you have one option or piece of information. It doesn’t seem comprehensive, and you have nothing to compare it to.

      Two pieces of information is slightly better, but anytime you have two options, you are invited to do a direct compare and contrast. That inherently makes things seem more extreme and removes a degree of objectivity.

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      Now consider three. It offers a bigger sense of the whole. It’s more comprehensive than two options, and it provides different angles to the idea in question — but not an overwhelming number of angles.

      Count to Three for Everything

      You can apply the Rule of 3 to almost everything.

      • When you explain something, try three examples. Steve Jobs above is an example.
      • When you want to convince people, try three reasons. We need to take a vacation this year because we deserve it, we got the right bonuses at work, and there is a deal on Switzerland.
      • Before you make a decision, consider three options. Always find that third possibility so you have a broader array of angles.

      The Rule of 3 can be a powerful play in your life. It helped seminal figures like Jobs and King craft some of their most important presentations ever. Try it and see what it can do for you.

      Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

      Reference

      More by this author

      Leon Ho

      Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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      Last Updated on January 21, 2020

      What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

      What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

      Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

      Can I Be Creative?

      The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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      How Creativity Works

      Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

      What Really Is Creativity?

      Creativity Needs an Intention

      Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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      Creativity Is a Skill

      At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

      Start Connecting the Dots

      Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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      Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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