We see what we’re looking for.

How many times have you had a version of this conversation:

Person: Where do you start tonight?
You: Seventh
Person: Well, who starts on the pole?
You: Little Jimmy.
Person: Oh, of course. [Throws hands up in the air.] Little Jimmy always starts on the pole.

Now, in reality? Little Jimmy has just as much of a chance of pulling a one pill as every other driver. Maybe he does start there more than other people. Or, maybe it just seems that way because you’re focused on what Little Jimmy gets that you don’t.

In reality, Little Jimmy getting the pole so often probably can be chalked up to a combination of luck and showing up.  Often.

But, we see what we’re looking for.

Have you ever bought a new-to-you car? I did pretty recently. I decided ahead of time that I wanted a certain car – all wheel drive, low profile in black (the only color vehicles come in, right?) – and started shopping around for it. Pretty soon, I was seeing them everywhere. My car at the stoplight. My car in the television ad. Oh look at the ice cream cone the guy driving my car has! (Sometimes I’m looking for ice cream and cars, what can I say.)

I was seeing what I was looking for.

Expectations are a heck of a thing. If we think we’re going to get screwed, in one way or another we probably will. Not necessarily more than usual, but we’ll find an instance to plug right into that expectation. We love to be right.

What’s my point? If we see what we’re looking for, then we can change what we see to a certain degree by changing what we’re looking for.

For most of us, this means losing whatever chip we have on our shoulders. Little Jimmy always starts on the pole. Twitter’s going to be blowing up over where Sally finishes (as usual). Uncle John is going to make some snide remark about where we finish.

They’re all chips that we’ve accumulated, maybe for good reason. But it’s time to let them go, a little bit at a time.

Give it a shot. It will probably go well at first, but then something will get under your skin and you’ll question why you thought things would change. Keep going. Changing expectations doesn’t just happen overnight – mental muscles are built in the same way physical ones are, over time and with repetition.

If you started looking for the positive instead of expecting to get screwed, what might happen? You might attract a new sponsor, make a new fan or inspire a storyline for a publication. You might find a dedicated crew chief, gain a Twitter follower or sell a t-shirt. Heck, you might even get a girlfriend.

There’s only one way to find out.

With love,

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About the author

Kristin Swartzlander Kristin Swartzlander is passionate about applying business sense to racing 'nonsense' in hopes of growing the sport of dirt track racing. She is a business strategist who works with entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them learn how to use public relations, marketing and social media to achieve their goals. Learn more about social media, marketing and racing sponsorship on the DirtyMouth blog.