My Nephew and the Art of Knowing When to Stop

Throughout my high school and college years, my moneymaking job of choice was working at preschools. I loved it mainly because of the raw honesty and creativity of a three year old. No concern for social norms, just pure imagination. Something about the best ways to act and not act are clearer when being played out by children. I honestly think everyone should spend a stint of his or her life working with kids and soaking this in.

This weekend I was hanging out with my nephew, Lane, and playing with stickers. Lane likes stickers. I’m pretty sure that’s a requirement for three year olds. As always, there was a lesson in there, and it comes in the form of a quote by Arthur William Radford: “Half of art is knowing when to stop.”

This is not a concept Lane grasps. I refrained from making comments like, “Aesthetically, that’s not a great position for that one,” and “You’ve already put ten cars on this page, one of top of the other. Maybe a traffic cone would be nice.”

Because guess what? No disrespect to Lane or anything, but more isn’t always better. In fact, more is rarely better. On a logo, a website, a brochure, a vision, and tons of other things, more doesn’t mean better. More means confusing.

If your logo is too detailed and your website and brochure are too wordy, you’ll lose people. People who have potential to be your advocate won’t be able to see through the clutter. If your vision has too many elements, you won’t be able to focus your energy into the one thing you want to do great.

More masquerades as better, but I don’t need to tell you what happens when more becomes too much. It creeps in, disguised as, “Oh, I forgot to mention this,” or “We didn’t incorporate that enough.” It’s okay. Saying more with less is the best way to share your story and express your brand.

Whether in articulating your dream for the coming year, or designing a new something, or checking your email, practice the art of knowing when to stop in 2012. What can you do less in order to have more?

(Photo credit)

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