Let me start by saying I really hope you don’t fall down and have some sort of heart attack in front of me and my wife when we’re out on a date. You might think, man, that’s selfish, but you’d be wrong. The reason I hope this doesn’t happen to you is because last night at dinner we were talking about our CPR training. You know the kind I’m talking about, right? You pack eight hours of training into some sort of “re-cert” and they remind you of everything you need to know to save a life, and then you’re off and running. So there we were, talking about our training, and neither of us could remember how many compressions and how many breaths. We couldn’t remember how long to wait between each. Frankly, we couldn’t remember a thing. She guessed it was five compressions and two breaths. I said three compressions and one breath. We were both way off: 30 compressions and two breaths (we found out when we googled it).
What does this have to do with you? Other than suggesting you stay clear of Melissa and I when you feel chest pain? If you think about that training we received, it has everything a good training should have: it is critical information; it uses visual and multimedia aids; it is passionate talk about life-saving; and it’s even interactive. Sometimes we wish our own training or messages had that much info, media and interaction, right?
So why couldn’t we remember what we’d learned?
I think there are two simple things we often forget, when we’re communicating with others:
- People don’t learn much in a single sitting. Packing a lot of information just isn’t all that helpful.
- Without practice, people will forget everything they heard.
In the Gospel of Mark (Mark 4:25), Jesus tells his disciples, “For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.” It’s one of those statements you can spend a lifetime trying to figure out. But I think it comes down to this: If you work with the little nuggets of truth that you do understand, you’ll be given more nuggets to chew on. If you don’t work with what you have, you’ll forget even what you’ve heard before. Sound about right? Does it ring true with training or messages you’ve received that you never put into practice? It does for me—I can’t remember anything I learned, at all.
Less is More
So instead of packing your messages or trainings with tons of information, maybe you should deliver less content. Less information. Less facts. Less of everything. And just help people put it to use. Help people obey. Help people digest the smallest amount of truth so that they can count it as something they “have” and now “more will be given” to them.
In the Orange Leader Handbook, Reggie sums it up better than I: “Instead of standing up in front of an audience and giving a list of seven things to do with a biblical passage, we like to narrow it down to one primary truth,” (p.72).
Last night my wife and I ended our discussion by quizzing each other on what to do if we were on fire. We both remembered the single line that we learned as kids, “Stop, drop and roll.” One thing. One action. And so simple that the real test isn’t if we know it in the greek or some other obscure fact about it. It’s that we know how to obey it and we can even remember practicing it. It’s not easy, but it’s true: Less is more.