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1 and 3: The two numbers that can help you think.

The two magic numbers that guide you through ambitious ideas

By Z3n Ch4nPublished 3 years ago 7 min read
1 and 3: The two numbers that can help you think.
Photo by Gabrielle Meschini on Unsplash

"When you hit an obstacle, do not mourn it. Because it provides growth opportunities." - Masayoshi Son

Original: 『失敗を恐れずに 様々な手段を 次々に試していれば 必ずどこかで当ります。』 - 孫正義

From Idea to Action

I am not a life coach or any successful person, but a more than ordinary man that encountered enormous failures and trying to figure out the HOW in different aspects of life. In this article, I am going to share a strategical thinking methodology and its applications.

Why 1 and 3?

Let's talk about ONE First.

It is obvious. The start is always the most significant step. Before ONE is ZERO. Having one means from nothing to something. It is what keeps you running on any goal.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

That is why various startup books focus on transforming your idea into and converting concepts into practices. There are a lot of helpful resources that teach you how to do that. The first thing you need to do is decode the HOW. There are many techniques or systems you can try; for me, it would be 5MJ.

Be mindful of the First step on your plan is crucial. You cannot start carelessly, as doing the right things is far more important than doing something right. Before start doing anything, think thoroughly about WHAT and HOW.

OK, then why is THREE important?

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Three, in many aspects, is proof of readiness.

My job requires me to prepare presentations and training for different audiences. Every time I would summarize my points into three. It was taught a long time ago by various senior consultants from my industries.

Examples in the article of BusinessInsider:

  • English language: first three by giving them unique endings - 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. For numbers that follow, they all have the same ending - 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, etc.
  • Olympics and sporting events: There is no medal for fourth, fifth, or beyond, only Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals.
  • Business and marketing plans: When categorizing sales leads (High, Medium, and Low)


1# THREE makes Pattern

Now you know why ONE and THREE are essential. It is time to talk about the transition. THREE is the next phase after you start, not TWO. Because when you can do something for once, it may be by luck or chance. 

By repeating the action for the third time, it becomes a behavior. A pattern is formed when we can replicate something at least three times.

Later I found out what people called "The Rule of Three" or "The Power of Three."

  • "One, two, three, GO!" when we compete.
  • Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness - Rights outlined in the US Declaration of Independence
  • And the example I come up with when I first come across the term "The Power of Three" - The Godfather Movies Trilogy. (And, of course, all trilogy classics fall into this.)
  • UK government slogan during the 2020 pandemic. (Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives)

2# THREE makes Conflicts

Imagine you have a startup by yourself; you can handle everything as you are the sole decision-maker. If you work as a pair (2), you can negotiate, and each of the players balances the problem. However, what works when you are working alone or working in pairs cannot apply to a group of three.

A couple argues, and most of the time, they either right or wrong, good or bad. There are only two sides to the story. The conflicts are more complicated when your mum comes into the picture. With a mother of the husband and wife arguing, that is the worst for a man.

Different people think differently. The worst case you can think of is they all go in different directions in geometry. You can imagine the three lines are perpendicular to each other. This scenario also applies on public occasions, even to the scale of nations. Political conflicts are problematic when it involves THREE or more parties.

For example,

3# THREE makes a surface

It takes two points to form a line. A plan possible when you have three points. That is why most of the conflicts and divisions are triggered when there are three parties. On the other hand, if you need to work to get collaboration comes in er, on the same sorts in.

For a group of three, you need to decide by vote. All of you are required to cooperate and work together. As you can see, A group of three is the start of a System. In a system, all parties need to formulate rules, definitions, and propositions with each other. From ONE to THREE, you can learn what cooperation is.

The Logic explained

As a result, after you start what you want to do, your next step is to think about making it three. The logic is as follows:

  • To cultivate a habit, once you started, go ahead and plan for doing it three times.
  • If you start alone, considering how to work of three is necessary to start a company.
  • To be a good manager, once you can teach one mentee, start thinking about doing a training class for at least three people.

You may then ask, so what's next?

Masayoshi Son (孫正義), the founder of Japanese technology giant SoftBank, is a visionary in the IT industry. In his speech about his vision of a 300-year plan, he mentioned a related way of thinking. That is also why his goal is 300-year, not 200 or 500. (This also implies he already figured out the 100-year plan.)

From ONE to THREE…Followed by TEN.

I used this rule in my career when I started as a senior with only ONE junior staff. And my team contains 30+ engineers. During the expansion, the challenging part is what I just mentioned. Office politics always start at three people. The method of managing three staff are no longer adequate for ten people.

While my team was only four people, I started working on SOPs (Standard Operational Procedures) and internal manuals for different operations. I was preparing myself for handling ten staff. To better preparing yourself, start thinking about ten when the number reaches three.

Photo by Rob Schreckhise on Unsplash

Applications of 1 & 3

As you can see, this is proactive planning, an expansion strategy. Many of us can figure out what they want to achieve and get started but do not know the middle's details. It helps you to prepare for the next step - this approach of development advances. If you can get to 10, your next challenge would be 30, then 100, then 300, and so on.

So, how can we use it in our daily life?

1# If you are a writer

You read enough and know what you want to write. It would be best if you then started writing. Try your best to work out your best article and review. Publish your best work once you can do it three times. 

You grow your confidence from the pattern. Your next goal is to write ten articles, to have 100 followers, to have 300 reads. You can set your small success from ONE and THREE.

2# When you are at work

You can think of the interaction with different colleagues (3, 10, 30, 100) like what I did. Try to work out the differences and figure out additional measures. Maybe you work alone, then find the patterns you are working on from ONE to THREE.

3# If you are a runner, like me

If you set a target of the distance you want to run, use ONE and THREE. I started from 1km to 3km and then to 10km and 30km. If you are a distance runner, you know that applying to 1k cannot be used with three. 

It would help if you planned for modifications to the training programs to achieve the next milestones. It applies to pace or the weight in resistance training. You can use it with all practice involves repetition.


Thank you for reading. ONE and THREE are not the only things that I consider in planning. However, if I cannot figure out the next step, I will put these two numbers into action. ONE means how to start.

THREE means you can continue, and the plan works. I hope this rule can help some of you if you are stuck in the middle of your goal or hitting a plateau.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Happy Reading and Thinking via ONE to THREE.

self help

About the Creator

Z3n Ch4n

Interested in Infosec & Biohacking. Security Consultant. Love reading and running.

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