Ever noticed how everything comes in 3's? It's because our brains like the number 3. And as you guessed, the power of 3 in business is not too far away either.
3 words, spoken by the 3 fairy godmothers
- 3 days to guess Rumpelstiltskin’s name
- the genie in the bottle generously offers 3 wishes
- 3 billy goats gruff, challenging a nasty troll
- 3 little pigs, outsmarting the big bad wolf
- Goldilocks and the 3 bears
Can we agree the pattern is clear?
But there’s more number 3 magic to be found, beyond the world of fairy tales.
- 3 primary colours
- Paper-scissors-rock (yep, 3)
- In New Zealand history, there were 3 feathers worn by the people of Parihaka to promote the use of passive resistance. (You’ll find other examples in history around the world)
- Any good moviemaker or storyteller will be familiar with the 3 act structure to drive an engaging narrative.
The point is...3 is everywhere, and it’s mighty powerful.
Number 3 Magic Explained
Some of the number 3 magic is deeply engrained in culture (not just in the western world, may I point out), but it turns out that our brain is quite fond of the number 3 too.
- How about… originally there were 4 musketeers, but they ditched one of them somewhere along the way, leaving ...3 (much better story!)
- And if you remember Churchill promised his nation “blood, sweat, and tears”, it may surprise you to find out he actually used the words “blood, toil, tears and sweat.” I leave it up to you to decide which one sounds more powerful?
Bottom-line: We naturally gravitate toward the magic number 3, because it’s a lot easier for us humans to wrap our heads around things that come in 3’s.
The Power Of Three In Business
It begs the question, if that’s the case, can we use the power of three in business too?
Let’s take a look:
- If you’re familiar with the power of 3 in marketing, in sales, or in design, you know the answer to that question.
- The fact that so many business models are represented as a triangle or 3 pillars are a dead giveaway.
But that’s not where it stops.
You may remember from a previous podcast I set myself 3 goals a day to move my business forward. I didn’t pluck that number out of thin air. I settled on the magic number 3 with purpose.
WHEN YOU NARROW YOUR FOCUS TO 3 THINGS, YOU’LL PROGRESS SO MUCH QUICKER!!!!
I guess that needs some explaining.
Why The Focus On 3 Tasks?
Imagine this situation:
You sit in front of a daunting 20 items long to-do list.
In a natural response, your immediate reaction is to reduce this list as quickly as possible. Of course, that’s the small and easy tasks tackled first. Logic!
Are these easy tasks also the important tasks?
Most of the time, the things that will move the dial for your business (and are therefore important!), are harder, need some extra effort and brain power. Will they get done if our focus is on quick and easy? Nope!
As a result, our 20 item list is very likely a direct road towards frustration, overwhelm and ultimately burn-out.
The magic number 3 goals on the to-do list, on the other hand, seem very achievable! And when they’re also the highest priority, you’re on to something good!
Counter-intuitive? Probably. But so much more in line with how our brains work.
Crossing T’s And Dotting I’s
The power of three in business tasks comes with a caveat.
See, for years I had an open door policy where my team came to see me at any time. My rule was that they needed to bring the problem, but also a solution. I would hear what they had to say, give it the tick of approval, and send them on their way. In my head, it was a very smart thing to do. Until I realised I may have been working on my highest priorities, but I was also constantly interrupted. (See my episode on context switching, which you can find here.)
The message to take from my experience is crystal clear.
Not only do you need to identify your 3 important tasks, you also have to shut out everything else and FOCUS.
My Challenge To You
So, I challenge you to find out what the power of 3 in business goals can do for you.
- Take your to-do list and highlight the 3 top priorities. (Go ahead! Be brave!)
- Take everything else off the list (delay, delegate, automate or scrap altogether).
- Find the time in your diary when you do your best work and commit to it.
- Lock the door, turn off the phone, and disable your email alerts. (Yes, you can!)
Take It Beyond The Daily Goals
To move the needle on your business, you should also set your magic number 3 priorities for your weekly and your quarterly goals; not just the daily ones. And as you probably guessed, none of them stand alone. They’re directly interlinked with each other.
This is a very important concept and I’ve explained it in Episode 17, ‘How to achieve your goals in tiny steps’. (If you’ve missed this episode or you need a refresher, you can find it here.
Magic Number 3 Task Setting Routine
I also have some tips for creating a routine to set your magic number 3 business goals. (Life is so much easier when you introduce a certain amount of routine!) Do what works for you, but keep it consistent, make it a habit.
As to how to create a routine around setting your weekly business goals.
- Set your priorities for the next week when wrapping up your week.
- Allocate time every Monday morning to keep the 3 priorities momentum going
Do the same for your daily priorities, either at the end of the day for the next day, or at the start of the day.
Tools To Help Your Magic Number 3 Task Setting Routine
And finally, I want to give you some tools that I have found to be helpful. You can just pick the one that works best for you. I myself use a hybrid.
- Use a note-pad and a pen. Easy-peasy. Cheap too.
- Go for the full-focus planner (I’ve dedicated an episode to its merits that you can find here) It’s my go-to. Also, I am a full focus planner certified pro, so I can offer you one-on-one coaching if you need a bit of support or need help with accountability.
- If you are a digital native, and you like everything in the palm of your hand, my preferred tool is Monday.com. (I can help you with that too.)
I hope the power of 3 in business gave you something to think about. Pinkie promise that if you commit to it you’ll find it’s extremely potent in bringing focus and productivity to our business.
Want to know more or simply feel the need to have a conversation about how to increase focus with the power of 3 in business without any of the overwhelm? Reach out to me and let the 3 good fairies (you know, the ones from Sleeping Beauty that go BIBBIDI-BOBBIDI-BOO ) wave their magic wand.
Ok, I promise I’ll be there too!