I have a personal operating principle I call my rule of threes. I am sure, based on my background, that it is deeply influenced by the writing principle of the same name.
omne trium perfectum
The human mind likes sets of three. Three is more complicated than singular, or a pair, and simpler than anything else. Think of memorable titles, characters, alliteration, rhythm, and structure as examples of the principle. We collectively tend to categorize things into threes; beginning, middle, and end; small, medium and large; or blood, sweat, and tears.
For me, something new or creative has to ring the proverbial bell in my mind three times before I act on it. That may sound excessive; however it guards me against the urge to chase shiny objects. Usually, with this method, there is enough time to act and be considered an early adopter, if not a trailblazer.
Here’s how I activate it. Your results may vary.
When I have a notion in my head, or a problem I need to solve that is important but not necessarily urgent, I set aside a little time for contemplation. I may mull it over in my head, or more likely, scribble incoherent concepts on a yellow pad. I show my intent to work on it, but it will not consume me. I delegate it to my muses, if you will, and tell them to get back to me with some ideas or solutions.
1. First Showing. Shortly, and time is relative, it could be nearly instantly or as much as a week later, the solution or idea presents itself. It passes very quickly and typically I do not even notice it.
2. Deja Vu. Something catches my attention, and it seems familiar. “That’s interesting,” I often mumble to myself in these instances. I know I’ve heard it someplace before (see 1. above). I make note of the fleeting concept.
3. Kismet. Invariably an unexpected source supplies the same message. It could be a song lyric, a billboard, a snippet of an overheard conversation, or a link someone sends. When this happens, my pulse quickens and I feel a mixture of Eureka, Huzzah, and Sonofagun – will you look at that?
It is then I act, immediately and with certainty. It is in these moments I know I am on the right path, a feeling that is devilishly addictive.
Gibberish, and esoteric gobbledygook? If you judge professional athletes and their superstitious rituals designed to help the already skilled to sink a ball through the net or hit one over the wall, then perhaps.
Remember, though, everyone has his or her thing that works, until it does not. The rule of threes has been working for me since my college years, if not earlier. What works for you? How do you stumble across, foster, or demand inspiration so that you act on purpose, not by accident?