One lazy summer day, sometime back in the 1970s, a Wal-Mart executive found himself driving back to Arkansas on a business trip with Wal-Mart founder and owner, Sam Walton. As they drove through a sleepy Mississippi town, Sam asked the executive to pull over at the town’s principal department store. No, he told his executive, he didn’t need to buy anything. Just wanted to check out another store.
The parking lot was almost deserted, and they parked directly in front of the store. Sam told the executive they’d split up, walk through the store, and meet back at the car in twenty minutes.
The executive did as instructed. He strolled through the aisles of goods from one end of the store to another. He saw few customers, and no store employee ever greeted him or asked if they could be of assistance. Any items on sale weren’t promoted, the place was quiet as a tomb, and the entire store just screamed of apathy. No wonder the place was dead.
The executive finished his tour of the store and met Sam back at the car. As they pulled out of the parking lot, Sam asked, “Did you see the great lighting the store used at its cosmetics display?”
No, the executive said he hadn’t noticed that.
“Well, did you see the creative way they organized their men’s coat racks?”
No, the executive hadn’t noticed that, either.
“Surely, you must’ve seen the unique layout of their shoe section.”
No, the executive confessed he hadn’t noticed it.
A lengthy pause of awkward silence ensued, and the executive loosened his tie, which now seemed far too tight.
Sam finally asked, “Well, what did you see?”
Sam Walton could always find the positive in any situation. Where his executive only saw the drawbacks and the negatives, Sam saw what the store was doing right and chose to concentrate on those attributes.
When you look at others, what do your eyes see? Do you see the positives in people, or do the negatives capture your attention? When you look in the mirror, what do you see?