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Brevity and Meaning

You’ve probably never heard of Theodor Geisel, but you’ve almost certainly read his several of his books. Geisel 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 for the decades to come. What made this story so remarkable, at least to Geisel’s editor, Bennett Cerf, was that its 65 pages contained only 225 unique words.

Cerf was astounded that Geisel had managed to tell this delightful story with such brevity and so he issued an interesting challenge. There was no way, Cerf gambled, that Geisel could write an equally meaningful book in a mere fifty words. Geisel accepted the challenge and on August 12, 1906, Random House published Green Eggs and Ham. Geisel had managed to use 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 (pun very much intended)? What if we stopped thinking or, at least, 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 on wisdom, meaning, and clarity.

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