Is it okay to stop giving second chances?

When is it socially acceptable to give up on someone? After they fell down 5 times, 10 times, or 20 times?

As a society, I would argue we give up hoping for individuals way too early.

I was struck by an email I received today from a Momentum Business Partner. The employer had taken a chance on a graduate, a graduate who had fallen down a lot, a graduate who has 5 felonies and 22 misdemeanors.

Most would have given up on her, most would be skeptical of her, most would at best keep her at arms length, and most would be wrong. Turns out this time someone helped her she was ready, she is doing an amazing job at work, and the employer could not be happier with her performance. She now has a job, and also was reunited with her son, because someone did not judge her based on how many times she fell down.

Yes she fell down, a lot.

She also got up one more time than she fell down.

When a young child is learning how to walk, we praise them for trying to walk; we do not punish them for falling down in the midst of trying. In contrast, when an ex-offender starts to take baby steps to put their life back in order, we focus on their instability or their stumbles, instead of praising their effort. Maybe if we changed our perspective and realized many have been crawling, and attempting to take those first steps is scary and unknown, maybe then we will be more likely to support and praise instead of criticize, maybe then we will be more generous in giving our time to help?

How many times would you reach out to hold a child’s hand as they are taking their first steps, how many times would you reach out to catch a toddler as they are losing their balance, how many times would you want someone to reach out to ensure you stay on your feet?

So, how many times should we give someone a second chance? I would answer, as many times as they need.