Archive for December, 2016

Omne trium perfectum

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

see-no-hear-no-etcOmne whuh?

This Latin phrase expresses a truism we know internally, even if we aren’t aware of it consciously: everything that comes in threes is perfect, or, every set of three is complete.

That’s because our brains are wired to think in patterns*, and three is the smallest number of elements needed to produce a pattern.

The so-called Rule of Three can apply in many contexts:

  1. Rule of Thirds in art and design (dividing visuals into three parts)
  2. Every story has a beginning, middle and end (as you already know, y’know, from me)
  3. Case studies are presented as problem, solution and outcome

Similarly, Latin has another term for how this applies to writing – hendiatris, or using three words to express one idea. Examples:

  1. Sex, drugs and rock-n-roll
  2. Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité
  3. Reduce, reuse, recycle

This is one of the reasons why people seem to respond positively, often with vigorous head-nods, to my concept of the “recognition trifecta”:

  1. Win an award
  2. Speak at a conference
  3. Publish a thought leadership article

Achieving all three is desirable. Remembering and pursuing the ones that make the most sense for the individual is just as important.

More to come on this.


*For more on pattern recognition than you likely care to know, see this bit on Prägnanz.

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