Most of us have ideas, plenty of them.  However, making our ideas stick can feel like trying to throw a paper plane in a hurricane. Yet, some ideas not only survive the storm but soar above it, captivating the minds and hearts of people across the globe. Why do some ideas thrive while others wither away? The secret lies in making our ideas sticky. Here’s a comprehensive motivational guide to ensure your ideas not only survive but thrive.

1. The Leaner, the Stickier.

Remember the power of simplicity. “The leaner, the stickier” is a principle echoing the timeless wisdom of Leonardo da Vinci: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” In the orbit of ideas, sentences wield more power than paragraphs. Two bullet points can outshine five. And easy words? They always win over the hard ones. This isn’t about dumbing down; it’s about honing in. It’s about crafting your message with such precision that every word earns its place. After all, as Mark Twain famously quipped, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” The challenge is to distil your ideas to their essence, making them impossible to ignore.

2. Communicate the Objective of a Mission.

What truly matters is not the minutiae but the core message — the objective of your mission. This principle is about elevating the “why” over the “what.” People don’t buy into ideas because of the specifics; they buy into them because of the vision they encapsulate. Consider the iconic missions of ISRO now: “We choose to land on the moon’s southpole.” It wasn’t about the rocket specifications or the lander training programs; it was about the overarching goal that inspired a nation and changed the course of history. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry eloquently put it, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

3. Strip It Without “Dumbing Down” the Message. 

The art of conveying powerful ideas lies in stripping them down to their core without losing their essence. It’s about asking, “If we tell nothing else, what is the one thing we must convey?” This approach ensures that your message is not diluted but distilled. It’s akin to Yogaraj Bhatt’s process of creating the Lord Rama of Ayodhya: chipping away all that is unnecessary to reveal the masterpiece within. This principle challenges you to be ruthless in editing your ideas, focusing on the indispensable core that makes your message truly significant.

4. Use Analogies Your Audience Recognizes.

Analogies are the bridge that connects unfamiliar ideas to familiar contexts, making the complex accessible and the abstract tangible. By leveraging analogies that resonate with your audience, you anchor new concepts in the familiar, facilitating understanding and recall. Steve Jobs was a master of this, describing the computer as “a bicycle for our minds,” instantly illustrating the power of personal computing to enhance human capability. Analogies not only make ideas relatable but memorable, transforming the way people perceive and interact with them.

5. Grab Attention, Then Keep It

Our brains are wired to notice what’s different and tune out the monotonous. To make your ideas stick, you must first capture attention and then maintain it. This principle is about breaking patterns to awaken curiosity and then delivering value to sustain engagement. It’s the narrative hook that draws the reader in and the compelling content that keeps them there. As Andrew Stanton, the writer behind “Toy Story” and “WALL-E,” puts it, “The greatest story commandment is: Make me care.” Engage your audience with something unexpected, then keep them with you by consistently delivering value.

6. Be Concrete

Concrete language makes your ideas accessible, grounding them in the real world where they can take root and grow. This principle fights the Curse of Knowledge, the cognitive bias that assumes others have the background to understand our ideas. By being concrete, you ensure that your message is understood across varying levels of expertise and experience. It’s the difference between saying “maximize stakeholder engagement” and “make sure everyone in the room understands and cares.” Concrete language paints a picture, making abstract concepts tangible and relatable.

7. Be Credible

Credibility is the foundation upon which the persuasive power of your ideas rests. It’s about establishing trust and authority, making it easier for others to buy into your vision. Associating your idea with credible sources, be it through data, expert testimonials, or your own proven track record, enhances its persuasiveness. As Aristotle suggested in his art of rhetoric, ethos (character) plays a crucial role in convincing others. When your audience trusts you, they are more likely to believe in your ideas.

8. Tell Stories

Stories have a unique ability to make ideas stick. They are not just narratives but experiences that engage us emotionally and intellectually, encouraging us to live them out. Stories transcend mere information, turning abstract concepts into memorable and relatable events. A well-told story can inspire, motivate, and ultimately, transform. They allow us to see ourselves in the narrative, making the idea it conveys part of our own story. As the poet Muriel Rukeyser once said, “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”

In summary, making your ideas sticky is an art and a science. It requires a deep understanding of human psychology, a mastery of communication, and a dash of creativity. By following these principles, you can ensure that your ideas not only survive but thrive, resonating with audiences and inspiring action. Remember, the goal is not just to be heard but to be remembered, to not just inform but to transform. Let your ideas be the ones that stick, changing minds, hearts, and perhaps even the world.

Prof. Dr. Prahlada N. B
06 March 2024

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