I have spent the last few days in Washington DC with the Green Berets (American’s special forces) who pride themselves as “problem solvers”. I have been with a group of entrepreneurs, the Maverick 1000, who also pride themselves as “problem solvers” and I can tell you that all problem solvers use the same first step.
It’s the same first step I was trained to use as an Architect, the same one I used to launch my book in the US and the same one that America’s Founding Father’s used to establish America here in the nation’s capitol.
Watch the video (where I am filming from the only modern replica of the Lighthouse of Alexandria) and learn what this first step is -
“Establish the triangle and the problem is two-thirds solved.” ~ Pythagoras
This week I learned what the Green Berets see as their most important skill in the field. They call it “Situational Awareness”, which is a clear understanding of the terrain, where they are and where they are going the moment they land in new territory.
The process to know exactly where you are isn’t about just picking a point on a map. It is about knowing where that point is relative to everything else. Where is it relative to your objective? What are the paths of most resistance? What is the path of least resistance?
The quickest process to work out all of this is called “triangulation”. This is the process of establishing a triangle, where you measure one point in relation to two other points. We use triangulation in our GPS system to know where our car or mobile phone is. We use triangulation to guide planes, ships and spaceships. Architects use triangulation to survey the terrain before building. Ancient scientists used it to measure everything from the distance to the moon and the size of the earth.
It was Pythagoras, the father of triangles, who said “Establish the triangle and the problem is two-thirds solved”. What did he mean by this?
When you take any problem (or opportunity) in front of you, when you have three points, you gain an entirely new perspective. For example:
1. If you have a difference of opinion with someone – your boss, your daughter, your boyfriend – bring in a third person who can see both sides, and you soon find common ground.
2. If you start a new project or partnership with one start point, agree with your partner or team on two end points. What does success look like in 3 months? What will you do if you achieve it? What does failure look like in 3 months? What will you do if you fail? You plan for the extremes before you begin.
3. If you have a disagreement with a customer or a team member, life is far easier if you had set a third point before you began – a service contract or a culture code which you both had already agreed to.
4. To find direction in your own life, having a present position and a future dream, you step into a third point where you can see the line from where you are to where you’re going, and you create a Future Vision that gives you perspective on your path.
Like a choir or an orchestra synchronizing to a note, when you set a third point, you create harmony.
The Square and Compass
I mentioned in my video two weeks ago the two lighthouses in the Seven Ancient Wonders. One of them, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, is the metaphor in my book, with four geniuses as the sides and nine levels that we rise through. Today, I am at the only replica of the lighthouse – right here in Washington DC.
It is the George Washington National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia. This is where George Washington lived. It is a long way from the Alexandria in Egypt, but the symbolism of that lighthouse is preserved here. The tower has four sides and nine levels. All divided into three.
By knowing what your Genius is, you can establish a triangle as your team. Dynamo Geniuses need a Blaze Genius as their right hand person, to lead the team and connect with the market. They need a third person – either a Tempo or Steel Genius – to manage the back end. In my book I write about raising $3 million from the Venture Capital firm 3i PLC. I am Dynamo, and I had a strong Blaze leader in Peter Watkins. But they insisted we hire a Finance Manager before they would invest in us.
The same goes for every other Genius as well, creating a team with a minimum of three is like having a stool with a minimum of three legs. Establishing the triangle gives you stability and balance.
The nine levels of the lighthouse divides into three prisms, each with three levels – The Foundation Prism, where we master our personal flow, the Enterprise Prism, where we master market flow, and the Alchemy Prism, where we master global flow. At each step, by establishing the triangle we create stability for the next level in our journey.
What do you need to establish the triangle? As the Green Berets said, you just need a map, and then a square and compass. In front of the memorial is an enormous square and compass, the symbol of the Freemasons, where these two tools are in the centre of their buildings and their philosophy. These are the same two tools we use as Architects in plotting our blueprints, and as Entrepreneurs in solving our problems.
The Story of the Lighthouse
This first step of ‘triangulation’ is at the center of the modern democracies we live in. The story of the Lighthouse of Alexandria is a journey that connects Aristotle and Alexander the Great, to the Library of Alexandria, the Emerald Tablet, the Magna Carta (which is 800 years old this year) and the US Declaration of Independence.
That is how this replica of the Lighthouse of Alexandria came to be in Washington DC! Today, this 2,300 year old thread has led to every modern society having a charter to live by. Creating this agreement of citizen and human rights is the ‘third point’ that what brings stability to our societies.
Watch the video for the full story. Then, if you haven’t yet picked up a copy of my book, please do. Between the book and our new online university, GeniusU, it can serve as a third point to establish the reference point in where you are and where you’re going. It gives you the context and the ‘situational awareness’ to solve your challenges and pursue the right opportunities around you.