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Real Estate Agencies

Updated on May 3, 2013

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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.

First Law of Critical Focus: Our most recent experiences influence what we focus on.

On July 3, 1988, U.S. Navy Captain Will C. Rogers of the U.S.S. Vincennes, issued an order to fire Aegis guided missiles at an unidentified Iranian aircraft headed directly toward his vessel. The unidentified aircraft was destroyed, but it turned out to be a commercial passenger jet. This decision cost the lives of 290 civilians. Many speculate that the Iranians later ordered the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in retaliation for the Vincennes incident.

What factors were shaping the captain's perceptions when he made that decision? The captain had just been in a surface battle with high-speed Iranian attack boats when radar operators reported that an unidentified Iranian aircraft was descending from an altitude of 7,500 feet toward his ship. His emotions were tense. The First Law of Critical Focus was at work. His most recent experience influenced what he was focusing on. He was focusing on the possibility of another attack.

Before he fired, he sent three warnings on civilian radio frequencies and four warnings on military frequencies. The aircraft failed to respond to any of these warnings. Based on this information, the captain concluded that the intent of the aircraft was most likely hostile. Captain Rogers had to make a decision quickly. He had to choose between the lives of those in the approaching aircraft and those of his own men and his duty to his country. Captain Rogers shot down the aircraft.

Captain Rogers’ perception of the situation was greatly influenced by his most recent experience. His ship had just been attacked. He did everything he could to determine whether the situation was truly as he believed it was. He could not have known the exact identity of the incoming aircraft before it was within range to launch airborne cruise missiles at his ship. He was forced to choose between the lives of his own men (and his ship) and the lives of the people who were aboard what could only be interpreted as a hostile aircraft. He had considered the possibility that the aircraft might be a civilian aircraft, but the jet had failed to respond to all warnings on civilian frequencies. Therefore, he ruled out the likelihood of its being a civilian aircraft. Were the costs of a wrong choice greater than the benefits of a right choice? Hindsight is always 20/20. Had he known the aircraft was a passenger jet, Captain Rogers never would have shot it down. However, if it had been a military jet and he had failed to shoot it down, he would have jeopardized the safety of his men and his vessel.

This story shows that our most recent experience influences what we focus on. What we focus on determines what we believe as well as our emotional state. What we believe determines what we expect. What we expect determines what we see. We tend to see what we are expecting to see. Captain Rogers saw a civilian aircraft as a hostile military aircraft.

When time was of the essence, the captain quickly did what he could to determine whether the situation was as he perceived it. Even though the consequences were severe, it’s hard to fault the captain for making the decision he did.

"Individuals behave not in accordance with reality,

but in accordance with their perception of reality."

Denis Waitley


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

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