By Eliana Barriga
Publisher and Managing Editor for The Retail Observer
With school now back in session, great professors are stimulating young minds by challenging their students to look beyond the obvious. I stumbled upon this story the other day and it struck a deep chord for me personally, and invited me to explore deeper both my business strategies as well as this journey called life.
One day, a professor told his students they were going to have a surprise quiz. He handed out the quiz, placing it face down on each student’s desk. He then asked the students to turn over the paper. To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions – just a small black dot in the center of the paper. The professor told them, “I’d like you to write about what you see on the paper.” The students looked very confused but completed the project. At the end of class, the professor read each response out loud. Every single student wrote something about the black dot, either explaining its size or position on the page.
Then the professor said, “I’m not going to grade you on this. Instead, I just want to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the large, white portion of the paper. Instead, everyone focused on the tiny black dot. The same thing happens in life – we tend to focus on only the black dots in our life and careers.” –Author Unknown
As retailers, I know how easy it is to be looking at several black dots at once, your challenges, such as Internet competition, rising operating costs, competitive pricing, and shrinking margins. So often we get so caught up in the overwhelming details of our lives and businesses that when things go wrong, we tend to obsess about them. We focus on the small details, distractions and problems–the dark spots. We fail to take the time to step back and look at the big picture: the wonderful abundance of white space that can be explored and filled with infinite possibilities for change and growth.
As Henry David Thoreau once said: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” This is the absolute truth.
It's time to see the world differently-
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