Second chances

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Kristen Nemish
  • 10th Missile Squadron Commander
I believe in second chances - professionally, personally.  Without second chances, where would most of us be today? 

I was given more than one second chance during the last 16 years and I constantly ask myself why that is.  What was the common thread with my bosses and leadership, which allowed them to have the grace to grant me and others another try?  Most of them were exceptional leaders that had a way of seeing the best in people.  I'd like to also believe that it was because I worked hard, tried to do the right thing even if it didn't always turn out to be correct, and admitted to my mistakes, my ignorance.  Often it was a humbling and embarrassing experience at best.  Sometimes I think the second chance was just sheer luck of the draw, timing, or out of necessity.  I knew, however, I needed to recognize the opportunity, take advantage of the lessons learned and not waste the experience.  I owed the leadership that invested so much in me the respect to learn from my mistakes.  I owed it to myself too.

That is not to say there weren't consequences for the mistakes I made.  And I always knew that those consequences were not of my choosing but the decision of my boss.  I focused on what I could control, which most often was very little.  I focused on my attitude, my humility, dusting myself off, moving on and winning back the trust of my leadership.  Occasionally I succeeded at earning trust back.  Often, however, I fell short at gaining what I lost.  Even when I fell short, I still tried to find the good and move forward.  With perspective and time, I learned that even out of failure came some positive, despite the sting of the immediate moment.

Those leaders that offered me the second chance molded how I see others' mistakes.  True mistakes that can be forgiven and learned from are worthy of compassion.  I believe there are consequences for even honest mistakes, but those can be overcome with perseverance and positive attitude. How an Airman reacts to adversity is a true judge of character and can help determine if another chance is warranted. 

How will you handle your second chances and will you learn from them?  Will you offer the same grace and forgiveness I experienced to those you lead?  Is there an Airman around you that needs another opportunity, a second chance?