Three Reasons I Hate Lists

bullnumIt seems that bloggers are really into lists these days.  My twitter feed is clogged with links to articles on “7 ways to do this” or “3 tips for doing that” or “10 steps for doing this and that.”  I’m not sure who started the trend, but it’s probably Michael Hyatt’s fault (see point #4 in list #1).

As a life-long member of the Church of Christ I understand the appeal.  We love lists!  I grew up with 5 steps of salvation, 3 point sermons and 4 stanza hymns (of which we only sang the first and last stanzas).  But I also get a little tired of lists.  Here’s three reasons why:

  1. They aren’t memorable.  When I read an article I try to look for one key takeaway.  Lists make that almost impossible.  They fill my brain with so many multiple points that I struggle to remember even one point.  Most lists I read are forgotten within minutes of reading them.
  2. They don’t offer depth.  There’s not enough time or space to expound on any one point.  Sometimes I wish authors would take their 3 point lists and turn them into 3 different articles.  That way they could develop the ideas a little more, and perhaps, make them more memorable.
  3.  Sometimes you have to make up a point just so you can round out the list.   Case in point…this point.

Ok, I do have one tiny confession here at the end.  I am a sucker for lists.  I end up clicking on every one of those articles that promise me 3 steps or 7 principles (for the same reason you clicked on this one).  But I’m starting to realize that I rarely benefit from them.  They are interesting to read but they don’t lead to any change in my life.

Andy Stanley proposes a different way in his book on communication.  He advocates for one point messages.  Yes, it’s right there in point 2 of the seven keys for irresitable communication.  But all irony aside, he’s right.  It’s much better to take one idea, develop it and make it stick.  It’s not easy but it’s much more effective.

Add that to your list of things to do in 2013.

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