Three of a Kind

There’s a lot of power in triangulation. Getting three examples of anything starts to show the actual topography of the category to which they belong.

Pick a style of music you’ve never listened to before. If you listen to one song of that genre, you still don’t know much about the genre. You have no way of knowing whether the song you listened to was representative of the whole category or not. Listen to a second song, and maybe it’s wildly different from the first. Maybe you love one and hate the other. How do you know if you like the genre or not?

You listen to a third. Now you start to see patterns and similarities. You start to see how it more closely resembles one of the first two more than the other. You start to get a little triangulation going and can safely start to form your initial hypothesis.

It’s not perfect, but it’s leagues better than zero, one, or two examples as far as extrapolation goes.

When you want to work on a project, start with three data points. Three examples, three bits of research. Heck, take three bites of something before you decide if you like it, just like the kids have to. Fail at something three times before you try to guess why you failed. Read three job descriptions from different companies before deciding if that kind of role is worth exploring.

There is a lot of information in the spaces between your set of three – often more information than is contained in the examples themselves.

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