When I was eight I had my first blood test. The nurse could see that I was really nervous when she pulled out a needle that looked like a sword. I like swords, but I wasn’t looking forward to having this one slowly inserted into my arm. She told me to hold my breath and watch the whole thing, it would help ease my fear. I followed her advice and when she finally pulled out the needle I let my breath go. And then I passed out.

I have never been good with needles since that day and so any time I have to get a shot or get my blood drawn, I am real nervous. I get sweaty palms and feel like I am going to faint before that needle even gets whipped out. Yes, I know, it is sad. I am a big baby when it comes to needles.

My problem is all in the expectations I have about shots. I expect them to be bad, to hurt, to make me whoozy and so they do. What we expect, dictates our attitude. What we expect can make us fearful, or excited, or bored.

Think about these situations. The first peek at a woman’s lingerie as she takes off her pants. The crack of the bat at a ballgame. The smell of baked apple pie when you walk in the door. Waking up on Christmas morning. The roar of the starting gun at a race. The dismissal bell on the last day of classes before summer break. All of these events give us positive expectations.

As a soldier during World War 1, there were times Claude Bristol did not get paid and couldn’t even afford cigarettes. He determined that when he returned to the states he was going to be rich. He doodled dollar signs on his papers and always kept a “mental picture of wealth” in his head. Eventually he became a very successful investment banker and businessman and wrote a book that sold more than a million copies. In that book he said, “We usually get what we anticipate.”

The famous French ruler, Napolean Bonaparte, received a star sapphire when he was a boy. With it came a prophecy that the sapphire would bring him good fortune and make him Emperor of France. Nopoleon took that prophecy to heart, believing that his eventual ascension was inevitable. In 1804 the French proclaimed him Emperor five years after he seized power.

Expectations stimulate action. Action leads to results, and more often than not, expected results. When you smell fresh baked apple pie, you keep asking about it, keep waiting to taste it, until you get a piece with vanilla ice cream on the side. Even your body responds. It produces saliva in anticipation of receiving that food into your mouth. When a husband sees his wife’s lingerie revealed in a private setting, his body responds, and he moves to kiss her, the beginning of their lovemaking.

More than anything, expectation realizes an opportunity exists, or creates opportunity and then stimulates action toward that opportunity.

An old Chinese wise man recognized this truth and said, "You can't catch fish without your hand in the water." What does that mean. It means we need to first start changing what we expect and then we need to create or seize the opportunity.

© Seth Crossman