No More 2nd Chances

Oct 11, 2022

Received wisdom says that good people give others a 2nd chance.

This seems reasonable – doesn’t it?

Everyone makes the occasional mistake.

The genuine one-off screw-up is pretty easy to spot. It’s out of character. It contradicts actions that have happened until now. It usually elicits a spontaneous apology from the miscreant.

And mistakes when we’re creating, experimenting, or improvising are part of the process. Jazz musicians say that if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough!

So giving others (and ourselves) a break on these occasions is spot on.

But there’s another – quite different, very familiar – 2nd chance scenario.

Good Person gives Other Person a 2nd chance. And then a 3rd, 4th, 5th etc.

Is Good Person being so good?

Rather, it seems that Good Person doesn’t see things clearly.

Other Person isn’t making a one-off mistake. The behaviour is how Other Person is.

Good Person is imposing their idea of how Other Person should act onto Other Person.

If you want a pianist in your band, would you hire a drummer and give them a 2nd chance to play the piano?

If you’d like a tall partner, would you get together with one who’s short and give them a 2nd chance to grow 6 inches?

If you make friends with a fox, would you give them a 2nd chance to be a kitten?

‘No More 2nd Chances’ is often the respectful and sane way for good people to act.