Creating Positive Triggers: The incredible power of 3 simple words

So I asked the following question on my Facebook Fan Page this past week…

In 3 words, come up with a tagline that defines the journey you are on. It should embody exactly what you are attempting to do.

That prompted 128 amazing responses. I will share 50 of the most awesome ones below, but before I do, I’m going to delve into a concept called…

The power of 3…

There is something mystical about things being bundled into groups of 3.  In fact, it’s no accident that the number three is pervasive throughout some of our greatest stories, fairy tales and myths.

There were the 3 wise men mentioned in the Bible.

When you talk about comedy you can’t help but mention the 3 Stooges: Larry, Curly and Moe.  I have it on good authority that these were also the names of the 3 wise men, but I have been known to mix up my facts so take the with a grain of salt. ;-)

Many of our classic bedtime stories make reference to the number 3. There are…

  • the 3 little pigs
  • the 3 blind mice
  • Goldilocks and the 3 bears.

Movies and the rule of 3…

The clever ones in Hollywood understand just how powerful the rule of 3 is as well.

It is why all movie scripts are written as 3 act plays.

Great movies use the rule of 3 to capture the essence of their story

  • Sleepless in Seattle
  • Meet the Parents
  • Shakespeare in love

And Robin Williams taught his students this now famous motivational saying in the movie Dead Poet’s Society–>also 3 words…

  • Seize the day

The art of funny…

Most people may not realize this, but comedians use this rule A LOT in their comedy.

A good comedian understands how our primitive mind works and exploits the way it perceives expected patterns in order to throw us off…or in their case, make us laugh.

Look how Jon Stewart from The Daily Show uses it in this joke…

I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.

Brilliant authors use it too…

New York Times best selling author Jim Collins adheres to this rule repeatedly in the titles of his books, which have sold over 8 million copies.

Elizabeth Gilbert used this strategy VERY effectively with her best selling book…

And best selling author Tim Ferris has used the rule of 3 in both subtitles of his first two New York Times Best Selling books…

In The 4 Hour Work Week (this first book), he capitalized on the power of 3 by using the phrases…

  • Escape 9 to 5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

In The 4 Hour Body, Ferris cleverly used the exact same strategy…

  • An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman

Recognizing genius…

The examples above illustrate deliberate acts of genius.

In each case, the rule was applied knowing that humans have an affinity for the number 3; that somehow words, ideas or concepts bundled together in groups of three are able to activate a deep-rooted psychological positive trigger embedded in our subconscious.

In plain English: the brain finds it relatively easy to grasp the concept of threes causing us to act favorably in response to the trigger.

As such, it might mean buying the book. It might mean seeing the movie. It might mean having a strong emotional connection to those people who use such tactics (ie Martin Luther King effectively used the power of 3 in most of his speeches).

Here is a perfect example to illustrate the point. One of the most effective marketing campaigns ever done in history, was done so by Nike.  You know where I am going with this right?.  What is their famous tagline?  JUST DO IT!

Being Primal connection…

The rule of 3 is powerful!! So powerful in fact that I have adopted my own rule of 3.  It’s the tagline on this site…


It’s no accident by the way that my tagline is 3 words long.  You see, I have been studying this idea now for some time (the rule of 3) because I have begun to see it everywhere (as stated by some of the examples above).

And while I didn’t invent the idea, I have yet to see anyone take the concept and apply it to personal transformation in an attempt to help people make some serious shift happen.

That’s where my gift lies. I’m able to take someone else’s brilliant idea (I have none of my own) and find extensions of use that others fail to see.

Me and the power of 3…

So lets take a look at at the role MAKE SHI(F)T HAPPEN plays in my life.

It is the TAGLINE FOR THE NEW LIFE I have begun to carve out for myself.  Everything I now do, the blog posts I write, the videos I make, the podcasts I record are all geared towards helping you make shift happen in your life.

It acts as an anchor (a positive trigger) to ensure I stay true to those things that help others make shift happen.  For example, I seem to be getting pitched more and more ideas now that the blog is growing in popularity. My mantra allows me to quickly disregard ideas that might be focused more on money than shift.

I use it to help me recover. When I do drift off course, I find that reconnecting with this anchor allows me to recover quite effortlessly now.

It is the phrase I repeat to myself when I find fear of failure is preventing me from taking the RISKS I intuitively know I need to take. When I find myself spinning my wheels, I use this as my way to align myself with my invented future. It acts as a positive trigger to get me to act on those things I know I must to make shift happen.

Putting the power of 3 to work for you…

So how do you put this to work for you.

Well first, you need to recognize that this is a really powerful tool you can add to your Paleo tool box to help you on your journey to transform how you look.

Understanding what makes you tick and how to influence that behavior is MASSIVE! But you need to act on it.

So here are a few keys to coming up with a powerful and highly effective personal trigger (mantra, tagline).

  • It needs to make a strong call to action (at least one verb IN THE PRESENT TENSE)
  • It needs to be something that inspires you (would you put it on a t-shirt?)
  • It needs to apply across multiple disciplines (meaning it applies when assessing a relationship, job opportunity or health issue)
  • It needs to represent a vision of your invented future; but something that seems impossible at the moment.

I have listed some real examples below to get you started on creating your own. DO NOT STEAL SOMEONE ELSE’S even if you love it.  Make this uniquely your own.

50 Examples…

  1. Body Strengthens Mind-Tom Reyes
  2. Key is Me-Susan Cullison
  3. Putting myself first!-Jo Ann Capp Huston
  4. Fear is Useless-Kristyn Wesdorp Wosneski
  5. Enjoying the Journey-Michelle Ducote
  6. Saving my life-Emily Miller Ordlock
  7. Health for LIFE!-Ali Hallam
  8. Never too late-Monika Breece
  9. Empowering my body-Beth Watt
  10. Meeting my potential-Stacey Bennett
  11. Eatin It Real-CaveLady Lifestyle
  12. Lean.strong.vibrant-Kim Greene Frazier
  13. Happy Healthy Strong-Amanda Reid
  14. All’s Not Lost!!! Manda Spot
  15. S.A.D. is BAD-Steve Bonfante
  16. Wide Load Narrowing-Maria Bontempo-Brennan
  17. Never give up-Rhoda Dorsey
  18. Stop Being Cattle-Patricia Prim
  19. Back to Nature-Naturally – It’s A Breeze
  20. Do Epic Shi(f)t!-Ryan Heeter
  21. Push my limits!-Jennifer Smallwood
  22. No more fear-Sara Widboom
  23. Figuring it out! Jessica DeAntonio Dipasquale
  24. Be the change-Andria Rose
  25. Happy, Healthy, Whole-Rachel Maria Cullar
  26. Believing in me!!!Rachael Kneisly
  27. Eat Play Live-Karina Micomonaco
  28. Strength. In progress-Denise Cross
  29. Finding my way-Marilyn Klucher Schmid
  30. Keep moving forward-Mark Huff
  31.  Set the example-Jennifer Nuno
  32. Working the sledgehammer-Jerry Brimer
  33. Strong, Focused, Satisfied-Steve N Cheryl Valentine
  34. Faster. Farther. Stronger-Sonia Martinez Ardeel
  35. I’M IN CONTROL! Audra’s Foodtopia
  36. Putting Myself First! (for once in my life) Megan Regal
  37. Lose the Fat-Sallie Nelson
  38. Eat. Sleep. CrossFit-Dana Pionk
  39. Breaking my limits-Tangie Prieskorn
  40. Sustain, then gain-Linnell Addis Gribble
  41. Better than yesterday-Derek Mouriz
  42. Keep it REAL!!! Dana Woodard Fowler
  43. Resolved. Unshakable. Thriving! Not a bad R.U.T. to get stuck in! Mike McGrail
  44. Prolonging quality life-Steve Willhoite
  45. Living with Sanity-Barbara Jo Fenton
  46. Making age irrelevant Andrea Heiland
  47. Rock my life-Jenn Whiteford Givler
  48. Becoming more awesome-Dawn Carlsen Green
  49. IN.FOR.LIFE-Theresa Thomann Haar
  50. Get Beatrice Mobile (Beatrice is his daughter who is has a condition which prevents her from being able to walk) – It’s why I do everything, why I’m losing weight, why I’m staying fit and why I’m eating paleo. She’s everything to me. Andrew Howden

Making shift happen…

1. Use the guidelines and examples above (any of them are in play) to create your own powerful 3 word mantra (Positive Trigger). Remember though, while 3 concise words would be nice, Ferris applied the concept using 3 phrases instead. So be creative and don’t be afraid to color outside the lines.

2. Create something you are so proud of that you would make it into a t-shirt that you would wear proudly. In fact, get it printed up on a couple of t-shirts. That’s what I did with mine.

3. Find creative ways to display your positive trigger. In fact, steal some ideas from Austin Kleon.  Austin does something called newspaper blackout, where he will takes a newspaper and blackouts the entire article except for a few choice words. These words then form their own motivational message.  Take a look at some of his work –>HERE and see if you could do something similar with your mantra.

4. Leave your tagline/mantra/positive trigger in the comments below.

Note: It takes time to come up with a great trigger.  So what you first come up with serves as a stepping stone for your final product. Be prepared to edit yours as you refine your vision of what you begin to deem possible.

Now go, make some serious shift happen,


ps…I am excited to announce that next week I will be releasing the Pilot of my Make Shift Happen Podcast series.  Stay tuned for more!!