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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Repackage, Re-purpose and Renew; How to Recycle Ideas

You might be sick of saying the same thing over and over again, but chances are good that people who listen to you haven't even begun to get the message yet. You've spent countless hours mulling the ideas that you speak and write about before sharing them with the world. You've polished, practiced and edited the concepts so that they are precise, concise and insightful. You've shared those gems with the world and then . . . who knows, maybe something, maybe nothing.

The temptation is to then move on to the next idea. The previous one is done, used up and over so you need to get on to the next thing. Creative types tend to feel that way. There's this pressure that we put on ourselves to do something that has never been done before and to never repeat ourselves. But here's the problem, most people don't get your message the first time around. You may have ruminated on the ideas for weeks before they came out and were shared in your latest sermon or blog post, but your audience has never heard this before. It's all new to them. You're familiar (and even sick of) with the idea because of all the time you spent with it, but your audience doesn't have that same luxury.

Repeat your ideas to cement them in the mind of your audience. A rule of thumb is that you should repeat an idea once every thirty days if you want your people to remember it. This is especially true for things like a vision or mission statement that needs to guide every activity of an organization. However, this principle can also be applied to every idea that you have to share.

Think about sitcoms, they are trite little bits of dramatic fluff that persist on television with, essentially, the same plot and same characters. The same ideas are repeated ad nauseum and they continue to be successful. There is an audience that's hungry to hear the same message. If you want more proof, just look at the fact that the band Nickleback keeps selling albums. Every song sounds the same (at least to me) and yet they keep making money off of it. There's an audience that doesn't get tired of the same sound.

Whether it's the same people or different people hearing the idea for the first time, you can repackage your old material and use it again. Don't repeat it wholesale, but take those ideas and weave them into new work. Let the inspirations for past sermons or articles continue to inspire you in the future. If you approach the same ideas again, you'll bring what's changed in yourself to the table and what comes out won't be the same was what you shared last time. You're different, your understanding of the idea is different and your audience is different. So, why not use the same idea again in this wholly new context?

How do you recycle your ideas?

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