The Bata shoes story is a favourite of mine.  Let me tell you why? This story holds one of the simplest yet most profound and important messages of all, for all of us. 

If you visited the rural areas in South Africa years ago, you’d noticed in the tiny rural villages along the way you’d keep seeing signs for Bata, the shoe company. When it came to brand dominance in these out of the way areas, Bata was visible far more than any other major clothing brand. Want to know why?

At the end of the nineteenth century, just as Africa was opening up as a market, all the manufacturers of shoes in England sent their representatives to Africa to see if there might be an opportunity there for their wares. All of them came back soon enough with the same answer. ‘Nobody in Africa wears shoes. There is no market for our products there.

All, that is, except for one inexperienced Bata rep. He came back saying, ‘Nobody in Africa wears shoes. So, there’s a huge market for our products in Africa!

And that’s why signs promoting Bata appear all over Africa, even in the remotest of spots. It’s why Bata’s shoes are known as the shoes of Africa.

So, what’s this got to do with you? Well, it’s about how we look at things and how we see them. It illustrates why having a positive outlook is a quality well worth cultivating. Yes! It CAN be cultivated. It’s actually like a skill you can learn, practice and improve on, just like a golf swing.

Another example for me came years back when I found myself at a sales conference in Johannesburg, called the National Association of Sales Professionals. There was a panel discussion featuring many of the world’s most successful sales professionals. Sitting next to me in the audience was a young account manager from another company, just a few weeks into the job. Quite fresh, you know what I mean…After the presentations he couldn’t wait to deliver his verdict. 

Huh,’ he said with a sort of arrogance, ‘that was nothing new. I already knew all that.’ 

Well,’ I replied, trying to be non-judgemental, ‘I know what you mean, but funnily enough I took six pages of notes, nevertheless.

He gave me a dirty look. He didn’t have to say so, but I could sense by his attitude he was thinking. ‘Fancy that, I know more than her who’s been in the game much longer than me.’

The fact is: people see things differently.

Same as feedback forms after an event.

One person will write, ‘didn’t take anything away from session. Boring, not interactive’, while another will write, ‘wow – thank you so much. I took so much out of it. I feel pumped.’ Were these people in the same room? Well of course they were. Each had seen and heard the same things, but had looked and listened differently. PERCEPTION.  Wayne Dyer says: when you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.

Here is a tip whenever you think or say anything negative (in the Silva Method we call it Mental Housecleaning), Just say Cancel Cancel straight after a negative thought or comment, then re-frame and replace it with Better and Better, or some positive statement.

A negative comment doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad. It means you are saying the opposite of what you want. Focus on saying what you DO want, not what you don’t want. For example: You see a kid running to the door and you can almost guess they will bang it loudly when they leave. What do you say? ‘Don’t slam the door?’ What does that do? It created THAT image in the mind first – the mind loves images and thinks in pictures – and then it has to reverse it. The point is, the impression/image we imprint in the mind is slamming the door.

Rather say: ‘Please close the door quietly.’

This may be stating the obvious, you may be thinking: Jeanine I know this all already. There’s a difference knowing this, versus actually implementing this, applying it hourly so that over time you cultivation a habit of positive thinking.

So, folks…Use the Cancel Cancel technique, it’s a great way to develop a positive thinking habit.

I’m no good at explaining things. Cancel Cancel. I’m getting better and better at explaining things!

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