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Meet the holy “Third” that will keep you alive

“There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who don’t” – Robert Benchley

This above might be the only “two kinds of people” statement that I would like to give you my opinion about: Be the second guy, meaning “be the guy who embraces the holy third“. Resist against the trend of 21st century; the trend which is pushing us to simplify, polarize or consolidate things over and over.

1) Why is there such a trend?

In my opinion, this is a reaction against losing the track of life: Number of components are increasing tremendously while the amount of time is decreasing in a fast pace. This is the essential reason why life gets more complicated for the majority. As complexity grows continuously in all aspects (be it relationship, friendship, work, wealth or just the life itself), human being becomes more prone to structure things with a dual relationship in order to set an easier, clearer mindset for himself/herself. This leads to less questioning, more acceptance, more time, more maximization and eventually, more satisfaction.

Another reason is manipulation by the power. Duality is the best weapon to be used for manipulation and control of the masses, used in multiple fronts: politics, economics, religion, business etc.. It keeps details hidden, making things look simpler. Masses who lost track already are becoming more open to manipulation.

Most common dualities that all of us are familiar are:

  1. Black vs. White
  2. Left vs. Right
  3. Good vs. Bad
  4. True vs. False
  5. Yes vs. No
  6. Allies vs. Enemies

I think this whole “duality” satisfaction is an illusion, which keeps us away from two elements that bring real joy of life: Alternatives and details.

  • Alternatives help us feel special. They help us avoid wars: wars within ourselves or wars against others.
  • Details make us feel human.

We would no longer exist if these two would be completely taken away.

2) What should we do about it?

Here are my suggestions:

1. Try to find the holy “third” in all situations: Third is holy because it will keep you stay awake, feel alive and see the beauty of the different. Therefore, always remind yourself the possibility of that “third” in every situation.

Start using words like grey, middle, neutral, ok, may be etc.. When pressured, don’t hesitate to say “I don’t know”, it will help you build your personal consistency, accuracy and credibility.

2. Find the third source of impact: Be it a friend, a company, an investor or a partner, you need to try to find a third source of impact. It will take you out either from difficult situations or from blindness.


3. Be simple, but think deep: Remember; these two are completely distinct actions. Looking simple or being a simple person should not prevent you from thinking deeply about important matters.

4. Think multidimensional: For some reason, people always use 2 axis when explaining an analytical situation. We have to admit ourselves: “It is not only about those 2 variables”. It is time to add z axis on top of x and y. In case if it is challenging to detect the “z” in all cases, there are easier ways to add the holy third even without working on the 3rd dimension. To start with, change your attitude at work by following basic steps such as the examples below:

  • Don’t use 2×2:


  • Use 3×3, it is more realistic:


  • Don’t use line graph:


  • Use bubble chart, it is more comprehensive:

Bubble chart

  • Don’t use pie chart:


  • Use stacked chart, it is more exhaustive:

stacked chart

5. Ask for the details: Things are usually more complex than they seem. Always keep looking for details, if you feel like you are likely to find yourself in an undesirable duality situation. Pay details the attention they deserve.

6. Embrace the different: Diversity is the ultimate wealth in every organization. Respect to different people and to different ideas.

7. Don’t generalize: Nothing is completely right or wrong. No statement holds for everything, and this applies even to this article: There might be some cases where having 2 is better than having 3, such as the below example.


One last thing…

8. Keep calm & Don’t lose faith: Don’t worry about this “duality” trend and don’t feel like an alien when surrounded by this mentality. Try to remain cool. Here is why:

First point (losing the track): People will start rethinking about their approach as they will understand that life never gets simpler. They will also identify the elements which give them joy, and they will figure out that those elements lie beneath details.

Second point (manipulation): I believe, masses will dissolve and vanish very soon. Technological advances have accelerated the division of groups into sub segments and the provision of tailored products, services or solutions to each sub-segment. Then these sub segments are divided even further, up until the identification of every individual. One thing ruling entities (both social and economical) have to get over is the reality of individuals, becoming more powerful day by day. Governments and the business world have already recognized the importance of this stunning fact and they have recently started promoting “grey” in addition to their black and white portfolio.


Image source: Flickr

Orkun Basaran

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