Bight Shiny Objects

Begin with a powerful metaphor: the super bowl. Style Three individuals and cultures are usually highly competitive. The super I bowl exemplifies this with powerful men, lavish display of wealth, ritual that a pope would envy and fulfills the dream of style three which is to be the best in the world and seen, applauded and loved for being the best. The accolade I've been hearing lately, "You're the best," makes me a bit nervous.

People say about style Three:

The passion to get ahead is sometimes born of the fear lest we be left behind. (Eric Hoffer)

Extraordinarily competent, exhilarated by control, called a whiz kid; driven to attain higher and higher goals (followed by a feeling of discontent), bedeviled by self-doubt; inclined to bend rules or lie to achieve goals. (Fast Track Blues)

There's no deodorant like success. ( Liz Taylor)

The habit of style Three is difficult to break. Workaholism is not recognized as pathological in the United States and besides, it may make you so much money you can afford your therapy. The culture of the United States is a highly toxic style Three, so one with this habit has no alternate larger frame within which to see her own exaggerations.

We love two really great American novels that display the Three habit vividly. The Great Gatsby puts image and its seduction on full display whileGone with the Wind is admired rather universally for Scarlett O'Hara's pluck and determination and competence even though it is accomplished with a moral callousness.

For more contemporary literature, read Winnie the Pooh! Beaver is a style Three.

Moving on to movies…I think Tom Cruise (himself A Three) plays Jerry McGuire as a mirror of America rather unashamedly. See for yourself here. He courts his wife with an audience. Who does that? Threes live with an invisible audience, this one just happens to be there. Then he talks to himself, rehearsing his role (with which Threes identify too closely), then he tries to earn her love by telling of his achievements. Only a Three thinks that achievements make you lovable. Then she says, "You had me at hello." What every Three most needs to hear. 6 years after the film, a bank a few miles from me has that phrase on its billboard. That's how important the response was.

If you want to see a contemporary Three earning love by achievement, listen to Bret Kananaugh (start at about 13 mins ), but his concern for his choir boy image made him unable to face the possibility that he assaulted the woman. (If he had said, "You know, I don't remember, but I did drink too much; it might have happened – I'm abjectly sorry,) he would have been forgiven. But he had to defend his image.

And while we're on politics, Jim Comey is a Three. Eagle scout, high achiever, head of the FBI. But he made two mistakes BOTH of them to defend his image and the image of the FBI. Then he went on a publicity tour.

Some consider Trump to be a 3 because of his branding, but you can't convince me that any image-conscious Three would wear that tie…

It starts young. In my first grade, we learned of Dick and Jane and the first sentence was "See Dick run!"

To an Athlete Dying Young:

The time you won your town the race

We chaired you through the market-place;

Man and boy stood cheering by,

And home we brought you shoulder-high.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away

From fields where glory does not stay

And early though the laurel grows


(Thanks to Mary Bast, friend and co-author, for this poem).


Here's song I wrote about Threes, "Showtime"

Are there any spiritual traditions that reflect the style Three energy? Joel Osteen and his prosperity gospel is what happens when a clever, theologically innocent Three gets hold of a spiritual tradition. In the Prosperity Gospel, God is the means to fame and fortune. Go to a Hobby Lobby craft store that has an adjacent Christian bookstore. ( In the Midwest, it is called Mardel's.)

The prayer of Jabez from 1 Chronicles 4:10 The Prayer of Jabez comes from the Bible. In 1 Chronicles 4:10, we read: "And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that Thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that Thine hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested." The prayer is shortened to "increase my holdings" and put on plaques, cards, stationery, and cups and embroidered on anything cloth (aprons, pillows, t-shirts etc).

The American style Three as a philosophy is captured brilliantly by the early 20th century philosopher, William James. It is called Pragmatism. The test of truth is how well it works. Git 'er done! That's not fair to James who has a lovely literary style. He is not at all without ethics or morality, but the ultimate test of truth is in its consequences. That's not the same as "the end justifies the means," but it can come close under moral stress.

Finally, if you are a Three reading this and would like to loosen the hold competition has on you, start with Alife Kohn's carefully researched book, No Contest. It is tough reading for Americans or for style Three, but he makes an excellent case that competition destroys excellence, especially if creativity or complexity is involved. (It might work lifting weights or running a race.)