To the Power of Three

It has long been understood, that grouping three concepts, words, or phrases (as I have just done!) is the ideal way to make, explain or emphasize a point when communicating with other people.The Romans knew this and a BC example of this is, of course Caesar’s “I came, I saw, I conquered”. An AD example might be ‘The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost’, or, in a different way, ‘wine, women and song’ or even ‘a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou’.

In the season of The Three Wise Men, I thought that I would give some recent example of the power of three:

  1. I read recently that someone had classified the Left’s approach to economics as being: ‘if it moves, tax it; if it moves too fast, regulate it; and if it stops moving, subsidise it’.
  2. This following story I heard on the radio – the gist of it, rendered in my version, is this: a new manager calls on the manager being replaced and asks for advice on how to deal with major problems that might crop up. The old manager says: “I can do better than that. I have prepared three envelopes and if you meet problems in the future, refer to them”. Things went smoothly for a while but then the new manager faced such real problems that he decided to open the first envelope. It contained a card which read: ’Blame your predecessor’. He did so and the CEO accepted the explanation and things moved on and settled down. About a year later, further problems were encountered, so he opened the second envelope and this time the card said: ‘Reorganise’, so he went to the CEO, who backed a major reorganisation. Things again calmed down for a while, but then further major problems were encountered. He then decided to open the third envelope. The card within simply read: ‘Prepare three envelopes’. (This can be discussed with reference to Tesco or Manchester United or any government!)
  3. The latest example of the power of three is in this extract from the speech by Ms Malala Yousafzai in accepting her Nobel Peace Prize. She said the award was not just for her: “It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change.”

And remember the power of three when making your new year’s resolutions!

Published on Jan 07, 2015 by Martin Thomas