Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Power of Three!

I'm intrigued by the power of three. It seems that "three" gets a lot of attention. Consider these examples: upper class, middle class, lower class; executive, judiciary, legislative; elementary school, middle school, high school; height, width, depth; infant, toddler, youngster; above, eye-level, below; past, present, future; etc., etc., etc. So why do we relate to things in threes?

I believe that our world is best experienced in threes. Oh sure, we can add a fourth element of time, but I really don't think that we live our lives that way. Time does not explain the decisions that most people make in the "here and now". It may add some flavor to our perspective, but it doesn't change the fact that we make our decisions in real time. At the very least, I don't see a "time-considered" focus in the general population, so I'm going to ignore it. Bear with me, three makes sense.

For a little bit of history about me, I became a corporate accountant after having spent 7 years in public accounting (I'm a CPA) and around five years in commercial/mortgage banking. The reason I mention this is because all three of those careers (public accounting, banking and corporate accounting) were considered career paths. I left public accounting because I really hated doing tax returns, even though I got paid for it. It just flat out bored me. I left commercial banking because I hated the constant displays of egotism and mortgage banking, I learned, was just a little too commission-driven to suit my nature. I love corporate accounting, however, because I get to focus on what I really enjoy. I love helping make a business's accounting processes work better. It continues to reward me to this day, some 15 years after leaving the mortgage business. I like to think I'm good at it because I enjoy it. At any rate, it took me three tries to find something that I truly enjoy doing for a living. Coincidence? Or do we just say "third time's a charm"?

One of the things I learned when I became involved in corporate accounting was that executives also liked threes. I was often tasked with explaining what a company's actual results were compared to what had been expected or budgeted. "Keep it to three things!" I was taught, the better to allow them (the executives) to focus on the major issues. And once I learned that, I was always able to provide a concise explanation. Consequently, that principle has never left me.

So, you ask, what is the point of talking about this, the power of three? Well, I'm convinced that most people deal with life best when they can focus on three things. I know that executives think that way, and I believe that politicians think that way and that you and I think that way. How often have you heard that a politician has a muddled message or that an executive is unfocused? That usually means that they're dealing with more that three things. Again, coincidence?

For me, when I'm not dealing with accounting, I'm usually focused on one of three interests: political news, computer technology and sports. When I'm not doing other things related to work and family, I'm usually immersed in one of those three interests during any spare time. What are the three interests that you participate in outside of work and family?

Let me look at just one aspect of my interests: political news. I tend to view politics through the prism of three facets: free-market capitalism, constitutionalism and social conservatism. I can't disconnect those three beliefs when I follow political news. Why, you might ask? Well, I believe my Catholic upbringing defines my social conservatism. My chosen career path in accounting and business pretty well defines my belief in free-market capitalism. And since I was born on April 19th, the same day as "the shot heard round the world", I've always been interested in our nation's founding and history, hence, constitutionalism.

From a political perspective, those three beliefs are usually used to lump me into "the right". I just like to think of it as "right". So be it, I'm right. The power of three can be visualized as representing a cube. Given that, I guess you'd be able to visualize my political views as right cubed.

This blog enables me to satisfy two of my interests, political news and computer technology. Now for the third. I'm off to watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Samsung 500 on TV!

Don't you love the power of three?

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