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Making A Clear Impact Through Subtraction, Not Addition

I've spent the majority of my career in roles that required me to deliver frequent training and presentations. One of the consistent pieces of feedback I've received over the years, and I still get it today is this: The course is great but she tried to cram in too much content into the allotted timeframe. I see this all of the time with my clients, too:

  • One more idea could make this presentation better

  • One more feature could improve this product

  • One more offering could make a business more successful

  • One more piece of feedback will make an impact

  • One more, one more, one more….

If you're suffering from the “one mores” consider this: The key to making an impact is through subtraction, not addition. Neuroscientists say that our brains are wired for the addition of new alternatives and not for finding solutions by subtracting what isn't working. I know how hard it is to stop trying to add “just one more idea” to make a message or project better. Consider the last time you attended a conference. Who was your favorite speaker? Why? Was it because they pummeled you with 20 ideas in 20 minutes? Or, was it because they had the power to influence you with a single story and takeaway? (My hunch is it's the latter.) 🔥 Success loves clarity. As a leader, consider this: What if you don't need to add anything to get the impact and results you want? Could you start with removing everything preventing them?

Quote about subtracting for success
What can you subtract?


One of the most frequent questions I get about writing my book is this: How did you find the time? Here's the thing, I DIDN'T find the time. I said no to other commitments to clear up room in my calendar to create room for this important goal. What could you improve in your life or in your career right now, not through addition, but subtraction?

  • What idea could you improve?

  • How could your team run more efficiently?

  • How could your message be more impactful?

Here's a few questions to ask:

1. What is the ultimate goal of this project / message / campaign?

  1. What's the ONE THING, if done well, will create the biggest transformation? (How are you channeling resources into this?)

  2. What activities are creating friction, not value, thus making an impact or results harder to achieve?

  3. What feels of dread? What drains my/my team's energy?

2. Based on the above, what do I need to subtract from this project / message / campaign?

Start today by swapping your “one more” for “one less.”

Kelli Thompson is a women's leadership coach, speaker and author who helps women advance to the rooms where decisions are made. She offers 1-1 private coaching and is the founder of the Clarity & Confidence Women's Leadership program (online group training for corporate women leaders). She is the author of Closing The Confidence Gap: Boost Your Peace, Your Potential & Your Paycheck.

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