Hollie Steele is a 10 year-old singer who got a second chance. Consider that Britain's Got Talent builds its ratings by dashing dreams on live TV and her second chance seems downright miraculous. Why did she get a second chance? Because she made an understandable mistake, was surprisingly remarkable, and those with the power to give her a second chance stood to lose something by refusing her request.
So why won't we (your clients, superiors, and social contacts) give you a second chance?
1. Because we don't understand why you made the mistake –
Hollie was a young girl standing alone on a massive stage and singing to a huge audience. It was easy for the decision-makers to see why she would struggle. She didn't need to tell anybody she was nervous because her trouble was obvious.
Are you able to clarify what your mistake was, why it happened, and what action you'll take to prevent it in the future? If so, let us know. We're getting tired of you screwing up, tucking your tail between your legs, and running for the door. It makes us feel like we misjudged you when we chose you in the first place. That makes us feel terrible and then we drink more gin. Gin is expensive. Don't be expensive.
2. You never surprise us –
In her first audition, Hollie started her routine with a little dance. It wasn't very good dancing but it wasn't very bad either. Then she started singing and the entire audience was shocked by her enormous vocal talent. She surprised them in a way that carried through to subsequent weeks. Her surprise was still in the minds of those decision-makers when she asked for a second chance.
Have you ever surprised us with a brilliant idea, innovative concept, or simply wild enthusiasm? We'd like to make excuses for you and give you the benefit of the doubt. But when you haven't done anything that really stands out, it's hard for us to make those excuses. Why should we give you a second chance to be mediocre if that's all we can remember? Surprise us. Take a risk. Make a splash. If you must fail, do so brilliantly and have lots of metrics showing us just how you did it.
3. Your work ethic is unremarkable –
Hollie is a tiny workhorse. You can see it in her face when she sings. She puts every ounce of available effort into completing her task perfectly. Her hatred of failure is obvious.
We look at your work and sometimes have trouble figuring out what exactly you put the most effort into. We wonder if you want to do a great job or if you simply slide along hoping to meet deadlines. We don't want to give you a second chance if we're not convinced you really tried to succeed the first time. We don't mind paying for new pavement on occasion so long as you tore it up pushing a big idea and not by dragging your heels.
4. We lose nothing by saying no –
Hollie had one thing on her mind–she wanted the chance to try again. Simon Cowell had the power to give her another chance and he gave it. Was it because he's a lovely man with a heart of gold? Perhaps. Did he stand to lose favor in the eyes of millions by turning her down? Absolutely.
When you need a second chance, do you know of anything we might lose by turning our backs on you? Treat this with special care: If you happen to know of a way we stand to lose by giving you the boot, gently let us know. We hate losing things even more than we hate spending money buying gin. Don't make us go there.
5. You never ask –
Hollie broke down but her failure was understandable. She had a surprising history, strong work ethic, and the decision-makers stood to lose by turning her down. However, all of that would have been for nothing had she not asked for a second chance. When she did, ears were open and thumbs went up. As Simon said, "I don't know how we'll find it, but we will find the time." (For her second try.)
As you're running out the door with your crate of belongings, did it ever occur to you that you might get a positive response if you turned around and asked us for a second try? We like being gracious. We thrill in it, actually. If we can make lots of excuses for you and give you a second chance, we find that quite gratifying. But you usually don't ask. You assume that you see the big picture and that we won't have further use for you. You're probably wrong. Humble, but wrong.
To quote the ever-wise Inigo Montoya, "Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up,"
If you've made an understandable mistake, have surprised us with quality in the past, work hard, give us reason NOT to say no, and ask for a second chance? We're here to say yes.
We want to say yes.
Stop selling yourself short so often.
What about you? Do you remember a time when you might have been given a second chance had you done things a bit differently?