Cursed are those with high expectations. We expect everything to run smoothly the first time as we consider the first time to be the only time we can get it right.
It is one thing to know that it is unrealistic to expect that one will never need a second chance to get things right, and quite another to live a little more loosely, with a little more self-forgiveness.
For the most part, we are in an unforgiving world. We re-hash each faux-pas of politicians, celebrities, our government and others. We regale each other with tales of bad meals, groceries with past-due dates, long waits on customer service lines and mix-ups that seem endless. An impatient lot, we don’t want to give anything a second chance; it’s too risky because it might be a waste of time. We might be making ourselves vulnerable. We might give someone a chance and they don’t meet our expectations–again.
I have not had to do a lot of hiring during my 30-year history as a boss, but each time hire someone new, I inevitably wonder: did I make the right choice? Reading a biography of a successful business owner, I was heartened to see him describe the key reason for his success: “I always gave people a chance.”
Sometimes the right words tell us what we need to hear. My tension drained away and I realized that yes, we have to give people a chance. In so doing, we give up a little of the control (you can laugh out loud here) that we thought we had.
We all need chances. We need employers to give young people a chance at their first job. We need to give others a chance at a job that they perhaps have not done before. We need to give people a chance to explain. Sometimes, people need a chance to set things right, to try their hand at something new, to toss the dice one more time.
We take chances in life with every decision we make; we take a chance that a store will have that thing that we are looking for. Faced with surgery or serious illness, doctors will always give us our chances. There is a five per cent chance that something will go wrong. Or: given these test results, you may not live more than five years. We listen to the risks and chances and often have little choice but to take a chance on an outcome or our future.
I think we all need more chances, especially the kind that we can give to each other. We can give people a chance to explain themselves and we can listen. We can give people more of a chance to get things done or to respond to us. We can give people a chance if they need some time to heal or mend or spend time alone for some reason.
I had this theme in mind when a knock came at my front door and two women with kind faces stood outside. They wanted to talk about the bible and asked me leading questions. Immersed in writing, I wasn’t prepared to talk about God’s kingdom and the state of the world. But I decided to give them a chance. I listened and they talked. I had a few questions and they listened to them.
There are big problems in our world which puzzle all of us. We may have different views about what the future holds, but we move into the unknown every day, taking a chance on what may come next, what may go wrong, and what may succeed.
We mostly know the chances we should take, but it is good to realize the chances we overlook: the chance to stop for a few minutes and watch the golden light fade from these autumn days, the chance to connect with others and learn what their life looks like. Don’t miss the chance to do an act of kindness for others, or the chance to laugh, or to look up and see the geese flying so low overhead that you can hear the wind rush through their wings.
Take all the chances you can.