“If you want something stuck in someone’s head, put it in a sequence of three.” — Brian Clark
You can use my 3 Wins approach to generate better energy for better results.
3 Wins works like a champ.
It’s kid tested and mother approved.
And I’ve used it to make it through the worst days in my life to the best days in my life.
I’ve used it on all sized projects, great and small, including multi-million dollar projects with virtual teams that span the globe.
And 3 Wins has worked for students, teachers, parents, artists, athletes, leaders, teams, and just about every sort of scenario you can imagine.
(I love it by the way when people share with me how they used Agile Results to learn a language or play an instrument or land a job or change their life in some profound way).
The 3 Wins Mantra
I use a very simple 3 Win Mantra to remind people how to use Agile Results to change their productivity game.
It’s simple, it’s sticky, and it works.
The mantra goes like this:
3 Wins for Your Day…
3 Wins for Your Week…
3 Wins for Your Month…
3 Wins for Your Year…
I remind people to think in terms of 3 Wins to use The Rule of 3 to rule your day.
By using the 3 Win Mantra, you remind yourself that now matter how many balls you are juggling, no matter how many things you have on your plate, simplify your story to 3 Wins.
Why 3 Wins
3 Wins is a great way to chunk and balance your focus and achievements. The whole point of the 3 Wins Mantra is so that you can narrow down to your 3 best achievements, results, or outcomes to focus on.
And you can apply it to your day, your week, your month, your quarter, or your year.
Here are 3 key reason to use 3 Wins:
- The Rule of 3 is a great chunking mechanism. Here are a few examples: 1) The military uses it to teach people survival rules: 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food, 3 months without hope, 2) Marketing uses it with things like The 3 Little Pigs, 3 Blind Mice, etc., 3) More effective leaders and executives use it to break down big plans into smaller, more memorable calls to action.
- 5 is too much. 4 is an even number, but a little odd. 3 is a good balance. 2 forces the “Tyranny of OR”. 1 doesn’t do justice.
- There are 3 legs to the stool. This metaphor carries over to your mind.
I want to elaborate on #2. When I first presented the idea of using 3 as a simple and sticky way to chunk things down, I got some pushback from colleagues who wanted to use other limits.
Here is a summary of my rationale among the choices:
- If you think about the number itself, “5” is really on the upper range of helpful, before diminishing returns. If you are focused between 5 things, that might translate to about 20% of your focus and energy across the board. A five-item list is a bit tougher to remember in your head, than say 3. And even if you remember 5, it’s harder to communicate to others, and have it stick.
- “3” is easier to remember, it’s a pretty simple way to chunk things down without the “Tyranny of the OR”.
- “2 creates the Tyranny of the OR is where you feel like you have to make a choice between 1 of 2 seemingly contradictory strategies or outcomes, so one of the options gets excluded.” I’ve also noticed that 2 can feel incomplete, for example, when somebody is trying to enumerate reasons to do something, or why not to do something. 3 seems to win again.
- “1” is helpful in some scenarios, but not for the base case, and everyday usage. The exception is when you can’t complete one thing well, then that’s a place to start. I also like to use “1” when I’m figuring out a theme or a highlight.
Ultimately, whatever works for you is the right answer, but I would encourage you to try 3 Wins on for size because of how simply and sticky it is in general.
The Backstory on 3 Wins
There are really three parts to this story:
- Why I used The Rule of 3
- How I used The Rule of 3 with Teams
- Why I simplified to 3 Wins
Originally, I created The Rule of 3 for myself to chunk up my work, set limits, and to be able to tell myself and others what I accomplished for the day and for the week.
I would just ask myself, “What are 3 Outcomes I want for today?”
As I extended it to my teams, not everybody knew what an outcome was. I would explain that it was the end-results or what you want to achieve.
As I taught more classes on Agile Results, I tried different language, such as, “3 Achievements”, “3 Results,” “3 Victories”, etc.
But here was the turning point…
I remember my manager going around the room asking, what were there 3 Outcomes for the week.
The answers people gave were true. They were accurate.
And they were lame.
All of the outcomes lacked any energy or zest. And they lacked fun.
My manager looked at me and asked how do we level up here?
I told the room to think in terms of headlines, and asked “What would the press release be? Now try again.”
I gave an example, and then others started to chime in, and it got much better fast.
The change in the energy was amazing. I played off the momentum and started asking colleagues, “What are your 3 Wins for the week?”
3 Wins stuck.
3 Wins Adds the Fun Factor
Fun is where energy comes from. But I was on serious multi-million dollar projects, doing serious work in the security space.
I didn’t have the time or the space or the place for fun.
So I thought.
Then one day, oh so many years ago, I was sharing my Life Hot Spots Framework with a colleague.
I talked him through the categories at the time:
I told him that the Life Hot Spots Framework is a simple way to look at your life in terms of an investment portfolio.
And Hot Spots are where the action is, or should be.
I told him it was a simple way to keep the big picture of life in mind so you can take the balcony view whenever you get lost in the chaos.
I said that by investing in these buckets, you get the compound benefits. I said, but more importantly, when you underinvest in some of these buckets or categories in life, you suffer the consequences.
He said he really liked my Life Hot Spots Framework but he said I was missing something.
He said that I was missing “Fun”.
I told him that Fun should just be applied across the board. He said true, but that I need to also call it out intentionally as a specific category to focus on.
And he was right. As soon as I added Fun to my framework, I found myself rediscovering old hobbies and exploring new interests, and challenging myself to make the things I already do more fun.
I basically started adding The Fun Factor to everything I did.
This reinforced for me why it was better to say 3 Wins instead of just 3 Outcomes or 3 Achievements or 3 Results.
When you focus on the win, you naturally add The Fun Factor and you generate more energy.
Note that I’ve had a lot of requests to include Spirituality in my Life Hot Spots Framework. I remind people that the categories are just a starter set.
Be sure to add the categories you want to invest in (and remove the ones that don’t make sense for you. For example, if you are retired, you can drop career).
How To Practice the 3 Wins Mantra
Here are a few ways to practice the 3 Wins Mantra:
- Think in terms of 3 Wins: “3 Wins for Today, “3 Wins for This Week”, “3 Wins for This Month”, “3 Wins for This Quarter”, “3 Wins for This Year”. Say it out loud. Say it to yourself. Say it in the halls of wherever you go.
- Start your day with The Rule of 3 by asking yourself: “What 3 Wins do you want to achieve today?” Do the same for the week, the month, the quarter, the year, too. Start with your 3 Wins.
- It works in reverse, too. At the end of the day, ask yourself, “What were my 3 Wins for today?”. Do the same each week, each month, each quarter, each year, too. This is powerful reflection at its finest.
Be sure to write your 3 Wins down.
Sure, the Rule of 3 helps you remember them in your head, but they stick even better when you write them down.
In fact, I like yellow sticky notes as my tool of choice.
That said, I found that sending myself a simple email with my 3 Wins works wonders.
Use 3 Wins to Generate Better Energy for Better Results
3 Wins is a powerful tool. But here is how to get even more out of it. You can use 3 Wins to generate profound energy.
It’s how you light the way to a better day. It’s how you feel your energy and all that it means to be human through your veins.
Here are 3 ways to get more out of your 3 Wins and find more flow:
- Connect your 3 Wins to your values each day. If you value customer feedback, don’t just “call back a customer”…”Win a raving fan”. If you value adventure, don’t just do a project…Lead an epic adventure. If you like to learn or if you value excellence, then don’t just do the task…Master your craft.
- Connect your 3 Wins to your strengths each day. Look for creative ways to spend more time in your strengths, and less time in your weaknesses. This is how you recharge and renew with skill.
- Choose and use a Mastery focus versus a Performance focus. Mastery is a focus on “how well did you play the game?”, while Performance is a focus on “did you win the game?” If you just focus on the outcome, you throw away the enjoyment of the journey. The science says the long-term impact of a Performance focus, leads to lesser performance and more short-cuts and bad behaviors (and thoughts are behaviors, too). It’s how people that swing for the fence, end up in slumps. They need to remember just focus on hitting the ball as best they can.
When you identify your 3 Wins you create clarity. This clarity creates confidence. This confidence generates unstoppable energy.
3 Wins is the shimmering sword in the Sun you can use to slay your day the Agile Way and become unstoppable you.
Go on……. go ahead… ask yourself:
What are your 3 Wins for today?
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