The universal use of 3s

In a lifetime long ago as management consultant, one of the first things you learn is that every recommendation you make should come in 3s. And to no surprise each one of those recommendations should have 3 supporting points.

I never questioned it. It is one of those pieces of conventional wisdom that gets passed on like gospel, because generally it works.

Yet recently after reading a passage in Anti-Fragile by Nassim Taleb on why the opposite of fragile is anti-fragile not robustness it dawned on me why 3s might be so pervasive in our society and why we should continue the practice of thinking in 3s.

  1. For every decision there are 3 actions you can take — go, stop, retract
  2. For every event there are 3 outcomes — positive, neutral (in-difference) or negative
  3. For every fact it can either be — true, false or true in some context but not ohers

Thinking in 3s — helps us make better informed decisions, be prepared for all outcomes and be skeptical of facts to get closer to the truth.