This talking point is in two parts. Part 1 is contextual while Part 2 is instructional.

Part 1

The Context for Rejecting Dogma

Several years ago, I was identified as being an introvert on one of those silly personality type tests. Hmm. Have you ever been identified as X or Y and found yourself subsequently living according to that label? Living according to the identity stories created for us by others?

Chloe, my 18-year-old daughter, has just delivered her last speech as school captain. She has proved herself to be an extraordinary leader this last year. There is a message in her speech that I just love:

“We spend so much time trying to find ourselves at school. Am I popular? Am I smart? Am I arty, dancy, sporty? The truth is you are none of these things, you are something deeper, truer and less impermanent than the labels of identity we adopt and carry throughout our school career. Allow your light to shine [school motto] by focusing on what is true, not just what is new. I reckon the greatest gift we can give another is the gift of seeing them for who they are, not just what society expects them to be.”

This notion of the labels of identity, I simply love it. I told her I want to be on her staff when she runs Greenpeace 2.0 or the Intergalactic United Nations—Ad Astra, Chloe!

British singer, Sam Smith, recently came out as identifying as non-binary. After looking it up (in this modern world, a 51-year-old Australian man needs to Google things sometimes… okay, a lot of the time), I just fell in love with their powerful declaration to rise above labels. I spent the rest of the day with Sam Smith songs on auto play – phew, that was a lot of serious emoting.

I started to watch Dr Jordan Peterson’s response to the legalisation of non-binary pronoun use in Canada. Wow. There is tonnes of opinion and heat surrounding the issue of gender identification.

But what’s all this heat about? It’s clearly not about gender.

I think fear and control are driving any anti-PC backlash in this issue.

It seems that many people feel safe and ‘in control’ with absolutes. Black, White. Friend, Foe. Love, Hate. Good, Evil. Male, Female. I just don’t believe life is that binary, that clear-cut, that convenient. In my opinion, wearing binary coloured goggles gives you a pretty limited view of life.

"You are something deeper, truer and less impermanent than the labels of identity we adopt"


Personally, whenever I am given a binary choice or an ultimatum, my oppositional defiance disorder kicks in and I find myself assertively seeking to obfuscate the dogmatic perspective. The more adamant the point of view, the less I buy into it. I think this rejection of absolutes is cross generational and I also think that it is on the rise in today’s youth. Power on.

It’s pretty simple to me. What do you want and need from me? If there is no obligation or compromise, then ‘whatevs’, ‘be who you want to be, do what you want to do, yeah.’ Let’s stop telling each other who to be or what to do and let’s just meet each other wherever we are at. Maybe life will offer more wonder and delight as a result? You do you, boo! (Thank you, Urban Dictionary, so helpful.)

Diversity and inclusiveness are bigger than ethnicity, gender or age. It’s about the wondrous variety that is present in our world. After all, variety is the spice of life. Life would taste pretty bland without it.

Go ahead, be yourself. Be whoever you want or need to be.


Go ahead, be yourself. Be whoever you want or need to be.

Part 2

How to Break the Deadlock

The Habit of Three

As a leader, there is a way to break the deadlock caused by dogma.

You can develop the habit of three.

Comedians know that three average jokes create a bigger laugh than one cracker joke. Dr King, Obama and JFK built their speeches around three core ideas and three comments related to each point. A three-by-three matrix is the perfect strategic map or plan and it creates the ideal formula for message management.

My friend, Col, thinks that when it comes to meetings, three is the right number of attendees. Jeff Bezos believes that if two pizzas can’t feed the attendees, you have too many people in the meeting. Three people, three slices each (and a few to go in the fridge for lunch the next day). Three topics discussed, three decisions made. In my mind, this is the perfect symmetry of three.

Start to develop the habit of three.

Three is good.


Start to develop the habit of three.

1. Three kills duality

Two is not a choice; it’s an ultimatum. Ultimatums are fundamentally binary, e.g. on/off, yes/no, hot/cold. I’m glad that when I was a kid they didn’t have most of the labels and diagnoses that kids get pasted with today. If they had I am sure that I would have been diagnosed as having Oppositional Defiant Disorder. If you tell me no, I find myself drawn to ignore that directive just to be noncompliant. I suspect that few of us like to have our options reduced to two uncreative and inadequate binary choices. I love the simple way that three breaks duality.


2. Three creates movement

The role of a leader can be defined as reducing fear and replacing it with confidence, removing confusion and replacing it with clarity and mobilising people in pursuit of a better future. Three elements, three ideas, three messages, three stages. Three provides mental momentum. Unpacking three ideas in a sequence overcomes resistance and inertia and creates a compulsion to act.


3. Three builds diversity

Two might be an accident. If we give two ideas, two demographics, two stereotypes, our audience thinks “coincidence”. Three is design. The deliberate use of a third person, example, type or idea communicates range and breadth (or at least the start of it). Three proves your point.

Some historically famous threesomes:


Develop the habit of three.