Why 3 Is Magic Number for You and Mankind

How many legs are on a tripod? How many strikes ‘til yer out? Why do U.S. presidents like to use first, middle, and last names?

Humans love relating things in threes.

Look at my first paragraph above, with three examples. We’re all naturally comfortable hearing things in threes.

Turns out that psychologically three examples of anything can be naturally persuasive – while a fourth can trigger doubt and even kill the first positive impression.

In fact, the number 3 is so ingrained in the psyche of humans that it’s a major force to be reckoned with in our lives, and certainly in business.

Take a couple of minutes to check out my examples below of how pervasive and fundamental that number is to your life and that of people worldwide and throughout the ages.


  • Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost/Spirit
  • ALL (three letters to represent the entire universe of existence)
  • Omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence
  • Past, present, and future
  • Time, space, and matter
  • Human time tracking: second, minute, hour… day, month, and year
  • Three days in the tomb
  • Three wise men
  • Your Identity – me, myself, and I… mind, body, and soul
  • Life cycle — birth, life, and death
  • Beginning, middle, and end
  • Crawl, walk, and run
  • Family:  mother, father, and child
  • Atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons.
  • Three dimensions of height, width, and length
  • Liquid, solid, and gas
  • Earth’s core, mantel, and crust
  • Air (nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide)
  • Animal, vegetable, and mineral
  • Protein, carbohydrate, and fat
  • Primary colors (red, blue, green)… secondary colors (cyan, magenta, yellow)
  • Newton’s three laws of motion: inertia, force, action/reaction
  • In fact, the list of threes in science (including number of branches in each scientific field) goes on and on (I stopped researching after 10 single-spaced pages of listings).
  • Also lots of grammar and punctuation rules (subject, verb, object… 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person… masculine, feminine, neuter… etc.)
  • Beginner, intermediate, advanced
  • Positive, neutral/zero, negative
  • Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
  • Government of the people, by the people, and for the people (Abe Lincoln, three-letter first name)
  • Branches of US Government: Legislative, Executive, Judicial
  • Red, white and blue in the U.S. flag
  • Blood, sweat, and tears
  • Latin “omne trium perfectum” means everything that comes in threes is perfect, or every set of three is complete.
  • In math, the triangle… Bermuda Triangle… everything common starting with “tri”
  • Triathlon:  swim, cycle, and run
  • Good things come in threes… more often than bad things
  • In literature and movies: Three Stooges… The Three Musketeers… Three Little Pigs… Three Bears… Three French Hens… Three Blind Mice… Three Coins in the Fountain… Three wishes from the genie… Three guesses…
  • Famous slogans: Just Do It (Nike)…Snap! Crackle! Pop! (Kellogg’s Rice Crispies)… Breakfast of Champions (Wheaties)… Finger Lickin’ Good (Kentucky Fried Chicken)… That Was Easy (Staples)… Let’s Go Places (Toyota)… Ultimate Driving Machine (BMW)
  • Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil
  • Number of feet in a yard
  • Three traffic light colors – green (go), yellow (slow), and red (stop)
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place medals at the Olympics
  • Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria were Columbus’ ships
  • Three books in a trilogy
  • People like three acts in a typical story, movie, or play.
  • Types of learning: psychomotor (manual dexterity), cognitive (memory), and affective (emotional), all parts of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, the bible of curriculum development people who create learning programs.
  • Location, location, location as the priority in real estate sales.
  • Stop, look, and listen – children’s road crossing safety phrase
  • The Rule of Thirds in photography and video (ask me about this one).


It’s obvious that the human mind, conscious and subconscious, is super comfortable with the cadence of three related things.

In fact, the human psyche tenaciously keeps your system in balance, as protection against trauma (mental, physical, and emotional).

That’s why it’s very hard to pry people loose from their erroneous assumptions and ingrained coping habits…and it’s a huge reason why information-only programs without 1:1 mentoring through the learning cycle don’t work to change mindsets and habits.

Why humans like things in threes is clear in the following two principles discovered over time by research.

1. Writing Power of Three:  Humans process information through pattern recognition, and three is the smallest, simplest, and easiest pattern to remember and to craft memorable phrases.

2. Reaction Rule of Threes:  Things that come in threes are seen as inherently funnier, more satisfying, and more effective than any other number.

So it makes huge sense to use that built-in proclivity in your communications to resonate with other people.

Want to master the “hook, engage, and close” process of gathering a steady stream of new clients? Then talk in their language, using their emotional words, and combine things in threes whenever it makes sense. (There I did it again with that last sentence!)


You’ll be smart to use your new awareness of this special power to make all your communications resonate magnetically with your ideal clients.

Let me share a few techniques to attract people so you can thrive personally and financially.

Focus on Leadership:  Boil your work-related functions down to only 3 of the 9 “hats” (functions) it takes to build and run a successful business… and delegate the rest.

Productive Priorities First: To get a lot done, schedule work each day on your top three priorities, starting with the most important. Then if things come up, you’ve already done the critical stuff to move you forward.

Three Hotspots Matter: Most important priorities to build a satisfying, sustainable, and scalable business are (1) trustworthy & memorable brand, (2) magnetic high-converting sales videos, and (3) transformational life-changing learning programs.


Use Communication Power: Words convey no more than 10% of the full meaning of our message…tone of voice can add up to 38%…but body language can fill in the remaining 52% of your message. Be in person or on video to get the most impact in communicating your messages.

Keep It Simple:  Use one main point and three supporting points as the basis for a live talk, podcast, sales video, speech, social media post, blog, learning module, etc.  People can follow your logic easily and feel connected with you.

Do Results Testimonials: First, you need only three testimonials on your web site, sales message page, etc. if they talk about net changes and results from your services that transformed their lives.

Use Their Words: Use three-item phrases and examples that are recognizable, such as the above phrases I shared with you.  Name your programs, unit titles, slogans, etc. with only three words if you can – and those being words your ideal prospects and customers use to describe their pains, fears, needs, and wants.

Use Trio Groups: Your clients can learn a new skill or process well in trio group exercises, where they take turns role-playing situations as customer, coach / salesperson, and observer who reports on what worked well.

Watch Your Timing: You have literally about three seconds to hook an online surfer’s initial interest to stop and take a look at your message. You can present a full sales pitch on video in only three minutes. People won’t remember more than three items from a list… and they tend to remember the last three better.

(NOTE: How many words did I use in each section header in this blog? How many to identify each suggestion above? That’s called parallelism, and it has a natural cadence to it, even if you weren’t consciously aware of it as you read the copy.) 

Now be warned, because at least for a while now, you’re going to notice things in threes all over the place!

My summary advice today: Thrive With Threes.


  1. Hillary Jones

    Wow, you opened my 3 eyes, that being my 2 seeing eyes and my one thinking brain. Thanks

    • Roy Varner

      Thanks for the feedback, Hillary. The more I researched, the more came up. So gracias, danke, thanks…oops, another three…