A professor gave his students a test. He handed out the exams with the text facing down. When the students turned their papers over, there were no questions; just a black dot in the center of the sheet of paper.

The professor’s only instructions were, “I want you to write about what you see there.” Once the students were finished, he collected all of the exams and started reading them out loud in front of all of the students. Each of them, without exception, described the black dot, trying to explain it or its position in the center of the sheet.

After all had been read, the classroom was silent and the professor started to explain. “I am not going to grade you on this; I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot. The same thing happens in our lives. We have a white piece of paper to observe and enjoy, but we always focus on the dark spots.” The story goes on about appreciating all that is right in our lives.

There is a lesson here for all of us. This is the time of year many of us prepare our 2016 plans. Many are doing their WOT, not SWOT analyses. We should include our Strengths as well as Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. We often need a reminder to leverage our Strengths in our planning and not just focus on our Weaknesses.

This is an important lesson for those of us who tend to only look at the glass as being half empty. There is a lot to our businesses that are good; keep them and leverage them.