4 Characteristics of Powerful Ideas

Many people have ideas; nuggets of knowledge they want to share with everybody else. Very few of those ideas become powerful.

4 specific characteristics define powerful ideas.

Succinct

To be succinct is to be brief and clear.

Ideas are not discourses. It should not take you 30+ seconds to express an idea to someone. You have seconds, or else the idea is not memorable. Forming powerful ideas take time.

A powerful idea is self-explanatory. If you say a line and then need a paragraph to explain, it is no longer powerful.

English has a conjunction that lowers all words preceding it; but. I’d go so far as to say any statement or expression using the word but is not powerful. Your idea becomes more passive and weak if you need to explain something with a negative or downplay.

Sticky ideas encapsulate a concept. They do not ooze onto everything in your life. You can easily understand and apply powerful ideas.

Memorable

You don’t remember what you had for dinner on December 12th, 1994; the date is arbitrary and the idea, absurd. There are certain days in your life you remember everything. Powerful ideas need to be keenly remembered.

Remembrance is an ongoing study by scientists. By increasing repetition, alliteration, grammar patterns, random play, and emotional state, they have found ideas and data to be remembered better.

Literary Devices

There are many ways to arrange words to increase memorability.

  • Alliteration
  • Assonance
  • Rhyme
  • Repetition
  • Rhythm
  • Hyperbaton
  • etc.

Memory in increased when including these literary devices like alliteration.

If I say, “Wally Wins.” You’ll remember it better than if I say, “Wally beat out the competition.”

I have always appreciated the way the rapper Eminem is able to use alliteration and assonance to perform phrases I would think to not be able to link. He somehow makes them flow.

Placing sounds, syllables, consonant pairs, and letter patterns in a more tactful way will help increase memorability.

Short Words

I am a fan of vocabulary. Words are amazing features of our language. Words stand on pedestals and shout, as a mountebank, screaming for attention. For you to understand a word, you need to be familiar and have an association with it. The best way to get an idea to spread among the masses is to use short definitive words that mean something in everybody’s life.

The masses will understand short worded ideas. Unfortunately, our corpus of words we can use the appease the crowd is small.

Take the word mountebank used in the paragraph above. You might look at the word figure out the context around it and understand that it’s probably meeting somebody or something looking for attention. The word is amazing, but not many people have a close connection to it.

My connection with mountebank from when I was a missionary knocking on doors and preaching the gospel. Most people believed missionaries to be mountebanks; openly selling false merchandise.

We talked about constantly standing on a soapbox and people coming to listen. The greats of olden days had done this in foreign lands. I realized when I came home that mountebank was the right word to define myself through other people’s eyes.

Use 7 Words or Less

The greatest quotes in the world are small. Anything longer than a handful of words we forget easily and reach for Google for a quick copy/paste.

Tried-and-true powerful ideas are short. To honor the day (MLK) consider the phrase,

I have a dream…

Martin Luther King Jr. used this phrase in his speech and repeated it over and over so we would remember. It’s only four words but is highly memorable.

Applicable

You need to see the movie Inception. The story is about trying to plant an idea into somebody else’s head and have it stick. The protagonist of the story talks about how an idea infests the mind and influences action.

That idea, whatever it is, influences many different aspects of your life.

Transferable

A powerful idea should not simply connect to only one thing in life. The idea, “tap-tightly when typing.” Has a terribly low transfer rate.

You cannot take the same phrase and use it for other activities. Driving a car has nothing to do with typing.

Take that same scenario and obfuscate it a little bit to create an abstraction that applies to all tasks. Now you can transfer that into many different skills or areas in your life.

Can Reapply at Different Levels

A powerful idea usually influences lives on many levels.

Doing work alone, with your boss, with family, or teammates should not change your idea situationally.

Tasks are usually more than one endeavor. Usually, they have subsets of actions to take. If you can apply your idea to each layer.

Ideas stuck at a specific level of interaction cannot influence or be remembered as much.

General Wisdom

Powerful ideas are not mind blowing. They do not break conventional norms. Powerful ideas may influence us to think in different ways.

Common knowledge is all too common now.

For you or me to generate a truly genuine original powerful idea that can stick and be remembered is not impossible, just not probable.

Today’s powerful ideas are not about trying to think differently or outside the box, but they are compacting and sorting our current ideas.

You can find 12 quotes about anything online, guaranteed. One way to generate a powerful idea is to look at the Myriad of quotes within your category and

One way to generate a powerful idea is to look at the myriad of quotes within your category and distill to a pure idea. This is re-sorting and categorizing general wisdom.

People feel attached and agreement with common wisdom.

Conclusion; tl:dr

We should be considering what powerful ideas are. They may change our lives

Powerful ideas are succinct memorable applicable and have General wisdom.

By searching for or identifying these attributes, powerful quotes, phrases, or ideas can shape up to be powerful and influence millions.