Lessons Learned from a Little Black Spot!

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Sometime ago I heard a story about a well-respected economist who was hired and paid a large speaking honorarium to present to a group of business executives. These executives were anxious to learn from their renowned guest and they were desirous of putting the knowledge they would learn into practice. The economist’s topic was, “How to keep your business profitable during a recession”. 

This was an important topic because at that very time the country was going through a serious recession and business was struggling to stay afloat. The executives were anticipating a valuable seminar where ideas flowed, questions answered, and they could go back to their companies armed with knowledge they could implement into their business.

At the beginning of her presentation, the economist went to a large blank poster board that she had placed on an easel in the middle of the stage. With a magic marker she drew a  black spot in the middle of the paper and then turned around to face the audience. She asked a businessman who was sitting on the first row a simple question, “what do you see?” He responded, “A small black spot!” 

“Anything else,” she queried? To which he said, “No!”

She then turned to face the general audience and asked the same question several more times to various business executives sitting in the audience. For five or ten minutes she asked the same question hoping for a different answer in order to stimulate the discussion she hoped to have but to no avail. Every answer she received was the same as the first one, “A SMALL BLACK DOT”. 

Finally, the exasperated economist surprised the audience when she deliberately, confidently, and carefully emphasized her next remark. “Yes, you are all right. There is a black spot in the middle of the paper, but I am very surprised that in this entire room no one said anything about all the white space left on the poster. You may wonder why this surprises me. I am surprised because the white space represents all the business potential that was overlooked. Why was that not the first thing you noticed?” With this simple declaration she concluded her presentation and left, leaving all those in attendance dumbfounded at the simplicity and obvious business lesson that went over their heads.

Over the years I have thought about this lesson and wondered if a parallel lesson on parenting can be made and learned and applied as we work so hard with our children. Are we as parents missing the simple and obvious opportunities to teach our children important life lessons? Do we see all the white space in our children that represents their potential? And if we do, what are we doing to help them recognize it so they maximize it? One thing is certain, we can’t leave their lives like the economist left the business executives and let them figure it out. We need to be there to help them develop this potential.

By just seeing the ‘black spot’ on the poster board, the business executives potentially lost millions of dollars in business because they overlooked the true potential of their businesses. 

As parents, let’s not make the same mistake with our children. Let’s make a difference by fine tuning our perception of their hidden potential and then help them work to make a difference in their lives. We can teach them to recognize this potential and then provide guidance, suggestions, encouragement, and directions  so that they can achieve all that is possible for them to achieve. Let’s help them build their confidence by helping develop their self-esteem and curiosity both of which can translate into the maximization of their full potential.

Happy Failing Forward,

Calvert Cazier

PS Want to help your kids have less stress and more success at home and school? CLICK HERE to get a copy of our book, The Resiliency Toolkit: A Busy Parent’s Guide to Raising Happy, Confident, Successful Children.

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