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A Cozy Family Home Awaits You

Real Estate Agents, Agencies & Property Sales

Updated on Aug 13, 2013

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Our Austin houses make for the perfect family home!

Our Austin real estate brags having one of a kind hardwood floors, spacious and inviting dining and living rooms, gorgeous backyards complete with covered patios and decks, and space for even the coveted game-room!

Our Austin homes await you!

So if you are in the market for lovely Austin real estate, give us a call today!

Please call Rose Castro at 512.656.3281.

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NOTE: As a thank you for reading this blog post, we are providing you with a free excerpt from Dan Castro’s book CRITICAL CHOICES THAT CHANGE LIVES.

Most people think they are in control of what they believe. But the following stories demonstrate how little control we actually have over what we believe. During the Korean War, the North Korean officers running the POW camps experimented on prisoners by telling those with minor injuries that their injuries were severe and that they were going to die. They also told those with severe injuries that their injuries were minor and they would surely live. Amazingly, many of those with minor injuries died because they believed they could not live. Many of those with major injuries lived because they believed they would not die. What they believed determined what they expected. What they expected came to pass because they expected it to come to pass.

How did the North Korean’s accomplish this? The POW’s had no evidence to contradict what their captors were telling them. Therefore, the only thing they had to focus on was the words of their captors. If someone can control what we focus on, they can control what we believe. What we believe determines what we expect. Sometimes what we believe can determine whether we live or die.

Okay, so you’re not exactly a prisoner of war right now. I realize that, but let me give you another example. Have you ever wondered how otherwise rational people sitting on a jury can acquit someone who is obviously guilty? Have you ever wondered how jurors could acquit someone who actually confessed to the crime? Let me give you an inside look at how trial lawyers control what jurors believe.

On May 30, 1997, a man named Montoun Hart tortured and murdered an English teacher named Jonathan Levin in order to get the PIN for his ATM card. After he was indicted, a witness testified that it was Hart who had made a withdrawal from the ATM at the relevant time. Hart also confessed to the crime, explaining details that no one could have known unless he had been involved. In the face of this overwhelming evidence, the jury found Hart not guilty and freed him! The jurors later explained that in the photo of Hart taken after a six hour police interrogation, it looked like he was “wasted,” meaning he looked drunk, tired or high. Therefore, they discounted his confession. Make no mistake. There was no evidence of torture or physical abuse by the police during the interrogation. The jurors simply didn’t believe the confession. Instead, the defense attorneys convinced them to focus on the photograph above all else. What they focused on determined what they believed.

How did this happen? How could the defense attorneys have turned black into white? How could they have persuaded the jurors that Hart was innocent?

The best way to explain it is to use a highlight football reel as an example. After a football game, coaches and players review the videotapes of the game to see what went right so they can repeat it and what went wrong so they can avoid it. They also use these films to evaluate a player’s performance. Multiple video cameras throughout the stadium capture the players and their actions from all different angles. But you can only watch one film at a time. In addition, the editors can choose which clips to show and which not to show.

Let’s say you watched a review film of running back Emmit Smith. In the tape, he fumbled four times. He was tackled behind the line of scrimmage seven times. He dropped five passes, and he had four carries where he only gained five yards or less. What would you believe about Emmit Smith?

Now let’s say you watched a different review film of the same game. But in this clip, you saw Emmit Smith score five touchdowns, and rush for over two hundred yards. Now what would you think?

That’s the way trial lawyers work. One lawyer shows you the clips of evidence that he wants you to focus on. The opposing lawyer shows you the clips of evidence he wants you to focus on. All good trial lawyers know that if they can get you to focus on only their evidence, they can control what you believe. The best trial lawyers are those who can get the jurors to focus primarily on the evidence that they show.

A standard motion filed in every jury trial is called a Motion In Limine. A Motion In Limine is a motion asking the court not to allow the other lawyer to talk about or introduce certain testimony and exhibits that could possibly kill the client’s case. But wait! I thought the purpose of a jury trial was to let the jurors see all of the evidence so they can decide who’s right. That is the ideal, but it is not the reality. The reality is that lawyers try to keep out all kinds of evidence that you are not aware of. The goal is to get you to focus only on their evidence and completely ignore the other side’s evidence. If they can control what you focus on, they can control what you believe.

Of course, an actual trial is much more complicated than this, and many factors, such as how believable a witness is, contribute to who wins. But, this is the basic strategy that all trial lawyers use. Why? Because trial lawyers understand The Second Law of Critical Focus. What you focus on determines what you believe.

In July 2002, five-year old Samantha Runnion was kidnapped from outside her apartment complex in Southern California while she was playing with a friend. The next day, her naked body was found along a nearby highway. She had been raped and then asphyxiated. The man who committed this crime was Alejandro Avila. This horrendous murder could have been prevented if Avila had been convicted of sexual assault two years earlier.

Two years previous, Avila had been accused of child molestation. Two nine-year old girls each testified in graphic detail about the abuse they said Avila had inflicted on them. According to the Los Angeles Times, one of the little girls said, “When my mom went to work, he would take me into the room and he would do those things to me.” She described how he would take off her clothes and his clothes. “Then he would start touching me and then making his private part touch mine,” she said.

The defendant’s argument was that Avila’s ex-girlfriend had encouraged the girls to make up those stories. The defense attorney repeated this theme over and over, day in and day out, throughout the trial. This is a classic strategy used by both trial lawyers and professional marketers and advertisers. It is called repetition – and it’s very powerful. That’s why when a company wants to launch a new product, you suddenly start seeing the product everywhere – on TV, in magazines, in newspapers, on billboards. You even hear about in on the radio. They are controlling your focus without your consent. And it works. The evidence shows that the more you see and hear about a product, the more you will tend to believe it is a product worth buying. It works the same way in jury trials, and the best trial lawyers are those who do it well. Do you still think you are always in control of what you believe?

Despite the two girls’ detailed and graphic testimony, the defense attorney used the power of repetition to convince the jury that the girls just could not be believed – and he succeeded. Trial lawyers control what jurors believe by controlling what they focus on. In jury trials and in life, the Second Law of Critical Focus is always at work whether we realize it or not. What we focus on determines what we believe.

Did you notice the Second, Third and Fourth Laws of Critical Focus at work in the last chapter in the story of the USS Vincennes and the story of Peter Godwin in Zimbabwe? Because the captain of the USS Vincennes was focusing on the recent Iranian attack on his ship, he believed there would be more attacks. Therefore, when he saw an Iranian aircraft, he expected it to attack. He saw what he was expecting to see. He saw a peaceful civilian aircraft as a hostile military aircraft. Similarly, because Peter Godwin was focusing on the threat to his life, he believed that all soldiers were looking for him. Therefore, when he saw a soldier on the road, he expected him to be a threat. He too saw what he was expecting to see.

The decision of the captain of the USS Vincennes cost hundreds of civilian lives. The decision of Peter Godwin saved hundreds of civilian lives. What made the difference? The difference was that Peter Godwin looked for and focused on new information that changed his beliefs. Once his beliefs changed, his expectations changed. This is how heroes operate. They take control of what they are focusing on. If we can control what we focus on, we can control what we believe. If we can control what we believe, we can control what we expect in any given situation.

What we’re expecting in any given situation is critically important because it determines what actions we are likely to take. In their book, Inattentional Blindness, Psychologists Arien Mack and Irvin Rock have concluded that “When we are intently awaiting something, we often see and hear things that are not there.” The brilliant psychologist William James puts it this way:

When waiting for the distant clock to strike, our mind is so filled with its image that at every moment we think we hear the longed for or dreaded sound. So of an awaited footstep. Every stir in the wood is for the hunter his game; for the fugitive, his pursuers.

If you think about it for a minute, you may be able to think of times when you saw or heard things that weren’t there – solely because you were anticipating them. Pychologists have been keenly aware of this phenomenon for many years – we tend to see what we’re expecting to see. However, it is my position that the Fourth Law of Critical Focus applies to all of life, not just to things we can see with our physical eyes. As human beings, we tend to see life, not as it is, but as we are expecting it to be.

Whenever you find yourself between a rock and a hard place, stop and ask yourself, “What if the situation is not as it appears to be?” How would this change your attitude? How would this change your behavior? How you deal with a situation depends on how you perceive it. How you deal with people depends on what you perceive their motives to be.


Remember, if you are buying or selling real estate in Austin, please call Rose Castro at EXIT: Options Realty.
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