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Leadership Lessons on Second Chances

The news came last Friday – The Chosen One has returned. No, this week’s story is not about religion. It is about second chances. Leaders understand that life is about second chances. Sometimes you need to get second chances. Sometimes you need to give second chances.

LeBron James revealed on Friday that he was going home. The young man from Akron, who has blossomed into the best basketball player on the planet, was headed back home to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. I lived in a Cleveland suburb in the early 80s when the pro teams were looking to win a championship. The Browns, in their quest to make it to the Super Bowl, lost in the closing minute, a play immortalized as “The Fumble.” The basketball team was nicknamed the “Cadavers.” When the Cavs finally got better and were vying for an NBA Championship Michael Jordan, with time expiring, made what became a poster for so many young men, “The Shot,” at the expense of Cleveland.

Now LeBron is returning home. It has been 50 years since the city has seen a professional championship. I remember, however, the scenes when he left Cleveland for South Beach and the ridiculous press conference in South Beach with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The fans in Cleveland reacted like this. Fast-forward to last week. Now Heat fans are burning his jersey in Miami, even though he brought them two NBA Championships.

What does this have to do with leadership? Everything! Leaders get it. Leaders understand people forget. They may say, “I’ll never forget what you did, NEVER.” Leaders know, however, that people are fickle. They forget. And they forgive.

Personally, it is hard for me to just let things roll off my back. I realize that it is because I’m still on my journey to being a good leader and I have a lot to learn. Although I shouldn’t – I do take some things personally even though it is just business. Yes, still in my baby stages in leadership at times I think.

What about you?

Are you where you need to be as a leader? Do you need to make amends to anyone like LeBron has made amends to Cleveland? Should you rehire someone? Is there a family member or coworker who needs to hear from you because of something that happened previously in life? Has anyone come to you looking for a second chance?

Leaders know how to say, “I’m sorry . . . my fault . . . I was wrong . . .let’s try this again.” You see this in sports, you especially see it in politics, and you see it in life—second chances. Leaders have a tendency to jump in and make decisions (sometimes too quickly). But leaders aren’t afraid to make decisions.

Think of the biggest failures in American history: Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Abraham Lincoln and Babe Ruth. These four leaders have failed more than anyone can imagine. Each has failed many more times than you or me. Yet, they believed in second chances. They moved past their failures into some of the biggest, most notable successes in history.

Quick example: Edison is credited as harnessing electricity and has some other 1,093 U.S. patents. Walk around your office or home and see where you would be without electricity. Better yet, next time you have a power outage think about how dependent we are on what this inventor, this person who needed second chances, was able to accomplish.

What about us? In what aspects of our lives do we need second chances? Do we believe that our greatest successes are still ahead of us?

In Cleveland, there is a two-year-old little boy, Noah (my grandson) who is becoming a huge sports fan. His dad taught him how to hit a golf ball and to putt. When he makes a putt he says, “Just like Tiger Woods.” Tiger is another person who needed second chances. Soon, Noah will learn how to shoot free throws and say, “Just like LeBron.” I’m glad the King has returned to Cleveland. I’m glad he was a leader who believes in second chances!

If you have any interest in the 8-minute story of LeBron’s return, enjoy this YouTube video.