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How to explain complex concepts: Build a "Kinda Like" Bridge

What is the purpose of a bridge? 

A bridge is something that you build to help cross a divide.  It is designed to help you get from where you are to where you want to go by spanning the obstacle in front of you.

Without it, you are blocked or you get all wet.

This same idea is true when you have difficult concepts or complex ideas that are hard to explain.  It may be to your children or to a friend, but the idea is the same.

The best way to help someone understand difficult truths (financial, spiritual, relational, etc) is to build a bridge so that they can get to where you are in your understanding.

Here's how it works.

Building a "Kinda Like" Bridge

I was reading a business book recently by Russell Brunson called Expert Secrets (it is awesome - definitely read it!).  In it, he has a section on this topic and is responsible for the idea of the "Kinda Like" bridge.

Listen to what he says here.

"The first key to telling captivating stories is oversimplification.  When you're telling stories, you need to speak at about a third-grade level.  Many of you will struggle with this because you like to use big words and show off your vocabulary and try to sound sophisticated and smart.  (But...) When you go above that, you start losing people quickly...Using big words may make you feel smarter, but it will not influence others."

He's exactly right.

This is true no matter what topic you are talking about.

For example, when I used to work as a private wealth manager, I would often get to speak across the country to people about retirement and wealth management strategies.  As you can imagine, there are a lot of complex ideas and conversations involved.

  • Stocks/Bonds
  • Annuities
  • Insurance
  • Qualified Plan Options
  • Taxes

The amount of complexity can be staggering.  So my goal was to make the conversation as simple as I possibly could.

Being smart was not the key.  Influencing people to act on what I was saying was what mattered most. 

The same is true for you when you're sharing difficult to understand concepts to someone else.

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The same thing is also true for Christian families who are trying to influence their children or friends with difficult and complex spiritual issues as well.

For example, the Bible calls the doctrine of the Trinity a "mystery".  That's because it is!  How, then, can we hope to explain something as profound as this to a child or a friend who has never been taught about it?

If you're Russell Brunson, you'd build a "Kinda Like" Bridge.

On one side of the obstacle (the difficult or complex issue you're trying to help someone understand) is where they are and what they currently understand (or don't understand).

On the other side is a new concept that you want to teach them.

So how do you cross the divide?  You build a bridge with a third-grade understanding in mind.

Here's the question you ask yourself:

"How can I relate this concept to something they already know and understand?"  

That's the key to building a bridge across difficult concepts.  We have to be able to help them relate to the issue with something that they already understand.

Let's look at the issue of The Trinity, again.

I understand that theologians have wracked their brains for years to find the perfect analogy for The Trinity and have come up short.  There is no perfect analogy to help us fully grasp the breadth of who God is.  Our language fails us in that regard.

However, the point here is that The Trinity is a very real and very complex issue that we can't just sweep under the rug and ignore either.  Our kids or co-workers or whoever we're discussing it with needs to be able to put their mind around the issue the best that they can.

For example, The Trinity is "Kinda Like" an egg.

An egg is one.  But it has three different parts:  the shell, the yolk, and the egg white.  All three parts make up the egg.  Therefore, it is 3-in-1.  This is "Kinda Like" The Trinity.

The point here is that we can help people to better understand a difficult or complex issue by simply relating it something our audience already can relate to.  When we do this and keep it simple - talk at a third-grade language - we stand a much better chance at helping to bridge the gap between where they are and the new concept that we're trying to introduce them to.

Try it the next time you get stuck or you hit a friction point like this.  See if you can come up with a way to bridge the difficult concept by saying, "This is Kinda Like...." and then fill in the gap.

It's a lot of fun and you may actually enjoy the mental challenge of finding unique ways to make difficult concepts easy to understand.

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