Brevity and Meaning

You’ve probably never heard of Theodor Geisel, but you’ve read his books. He wrote under the pseudonym of “Dr. Seuss.”

In 1957, Random House released The Cat in the Hat, a book destined to hold a prominent place in millions of childhood memories in the decades to come. What made this story so remarkable to Geisel’s editor, Bennett Cerf, was that it’s 65 pages contained only 225 unique words.

Cerf was astounded that Geisel managed to tell this delightful story with such brevity and so he issued Geisel an interesting challenge. He gambled that Geisel could not write an equally meaningful book with a mere fifty words. Geisel accepted the challenge and on August 12, 1906, Random House published Green Eggs and Ham, a book of only fifty unique words over 62 pages. It outsold The Cat and the Hat and is still one of the bestselling children’s books of all time.

What if we took a page from Dr. Seuss? What if we stopped speaking as though more words necessarily made for more meaning?

We are a people long on information and short on wisdom, long on knowledge and short on meaning, long on explanation and short on clarity.

Think about your words. Spend them sparingly and spend them prudently - on wisdom, meaning, and clarity.