Why is simplicity so complex?

“Less is more” is something you’ve probably heard your whole life and it’s not a new concept. But why is it so hard for us to avoid the useless and the redundant? Simplicity has been a challenging concept for as long as we can remember. In 1918, Woodrow Wilson was asked how long it takes him to prepare his speeches, to which he answered:

“That depends on the length of the speech. If it is a ten-minute speech it takes me all of two weeks to prepare it; if it is a half-hour speech it takes me a week; if I can talk as long as I want to it requires no preparation at all. I am ready now.”

Why is simple communication, via language or visual, so hard to achieve?

A lot of our habits of cramming as much information as possible to prove our knowledge on a particular subject stems from early education. Whether we had to write essays or give oral presentations, you were likely judged on the amount of content you provided to prove your knowledge.

What really matters is getting to the center of motivation. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Starting with the power of ‘Why’ will bring feelings strong enough to spark genuine interest or change. Just writing or speaking for the sake of it loses sight over what really matters.


Just look at marketing for example. Some of the most impactful and meaningful adverts in history have been the simplest. Think of Nike’s “Just Do It” or Apple’s “Think Different.”

You should be able to bring concepts down to the simplest of nature. The key to actually doing this is understanding the concept, product or idea that you’re trying to VERY well. Understand what is the backbone and what are the peripheral elements.

In short, always think about simplifying things. Whether it’s writing, creating, speaking or selling ideas. Use complex notions only when needed and make sure you fully understand it yourself.

Simple ideas, powerful words.