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The Painter’s Overcorrection

Imagine a painter working on a portrait. He’s unhappy with the way the eyes look, so he adds more colors, trying to capture the right shade. Unsatisfied, he then paints additional lines and shadows, hoping to give them depth. The more he adds, the further the eyes drift from his vision. Frustrated, he keeps piling on strokes, shades, and highlights, making the eyes busier and less lifelike.

A fellow artist, seeing his struggle, takes another canvas and paints the same eyes with just a few confident, well-placed strokes. The result? A clear, vivid, and lifelike pair of eyes.

The original painter’s instinct was to add, thinking more detail would solve the problem. In reality, the simplicity and clarity of fewer, well-placed strokes made the difference.

It’s a cliché but it’s true: less is often more.

In our rush to communicate, our instinct is to pile on words and ideas, thinking it’s better. It’s not. One strong argument that sticks easily beats 10 weak arguments that our audience forgets.

Strip it down and keep it simple, subtract the non-essential and amplify the essential …

Your message will be so much clearer.

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