The power of numbers and why lists of 10 are perfect

Have you noticed how, lately, how so many blog posts and articles are headed with something like ‘the top five lessons…’ or ‘the 12 ways to fix…’. It’s everywhere!

I’ve just written a piece for LinkedIn called Are you unscrupulous? 11 questions to find out.

I have written as many posts as any other blogger – offering bite-sized pieces of information to my readers. There is power in numbers: 10 is supposedly perfect, and we like to remember things in three.

It seems to have reached epidemic proportions. Is the part of the ‘utopia complex’ that Hugh Mackay writes about in his new book The Good Life, he describes how Western society has moved to be one that expects perfection. And the lack of perfection is causing people to feel sad, depressed and incomplete.

We are constantly bombarded with images of perfection (often digitally enhanced images) in magazines, on billboards or at the movies. Movies have happy endings; which fuels our belief that ‘it will all be all right in the end’. Even food is presented as perfect! How did our fruit and veg become so beautiful, without a blemish?

As we pursue perfection we have not become happier – in fact, quite to the contrary.
Has the way we learn and consume information become the same? We want to consume as much as we can, as quickly as we can, with as much clarity as we can get. In other words, we simply want the perfect ‘answer’, rather than the story or argument that supports the debate.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’d been asked the question: ‘Just tell me the one thing that made you the success that you are today?’ The answer is lots of hard work – but that is not really one answer.

One of my colleagues much prefers to read the summaries of books than the real deal. “Quicker, faster, more,” she explains. I don’t think this is a trend that will go away, in the same way as I’m sure Photoshop is here to stay when it comes to image enhancement.
So did I lure you into reading this post with my headline ‘lists of 10…’ and now you are looking for them and can’t find them?

Here is my challenge for you. If you read a post with a numeric heading, please add a comment if you think they have missed the point. And I expect the same of my posts.

Naomi Simson has received many accolades and awards for the business she founded,, including the 2011 Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year – Industry.


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