The FIG – Giving Someone a Chance

Will Lukang, PMP, MBA, MASCL

A reading from Luke Chapter 13: There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, “For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down.”  He said to him in reply, “Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.”  

Many times in my life I have thought of throwing in the towel, because of my situation or the circumstances that I was in.   However, I decided to give it one more try and work harder to prove that I could get it done and managed to turn things around.  In a way, what drove me to succeed was to prove to the people who didn’t believe in me that I had what it takes to get it done.  Growing up as a middle child is rather tough.   You’re faced with challenges that at times seem insurmountable.  What kept me going was my belief that things get better in the end.   It is the very reason I believe in giving people another chance.  

These days in the corporate world, for some managers you are as good as your last delivery.   Sometimes a person’s year-end review can be marred by a single failed implementation that could be out of his/her control.  It was supposed to be a great year, but then a failed implementation in September can do it for you.  As a result, you could be labeled unreliable and not given an opportunity to work on the next important project.  Like the Fig tree, a person might not have an excellent year, but it does not mean the person did not do a good job.  A good leader often can see potential when others might have already given up.   The leader would provide another chance that could, in effect, motivate and rejuvenate the person’s desire to do his/her best and deliver an exceptional performance.

I believe people who act with integrity are entitled to have an off year with their performance.  We have to understand that everyone walks around with personal baggage; it could be a family sickness, financial challenge, etc. Therefore, we need to create an environment that supports people and enables them to keep going in spite of the challenges at hand. Hence, giving people another chance is the right thing to do. 

During my junior year in high school, my teacher believed in me.  She saw the potential that no one else saw in me.   She told me that no one can tell me what I can or cannot do because I know myself better than anyone else.  She gave me the chance, and I seized the moment.   I came a long way and achieved things that I otherwise could not have accomplished.   I had a good career while completing two graduate degrees and graduating with honors.   My father taught me to be humble.  My teacher taught me that everyone, no matter who you are, deserves a chance.   Off course, I could not have done it without my loving and supporting wife and my two lovely girls that sacrificed a lot during those challenging years of graduate school and full-time work.

Just like the Fig tree, next year might be the year that it blooms and bears fruits.  You could have opened a door for someone to have an excellent performance.   It would be satisfying to know that you helped pave the way for someone to have a successful tomorrow.   When the chips are down and things seem insurmountable, think of the Fig tree and keep on going.  You’ll never know what awaits you at the end of the tunnel.

Treating everyone with respect

Will Lukang, PMP, MBA, MASCL

There is common English phrasing in the biblical book of Matthew that says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That phrase resonates with me and I use it as guide on how I live my life.

How often have you met people who look at credentials, occupations, title, status symbol, or what people wear to decide how they will respond? This happens very often and it is very sad, but that is the reality.

A perfect example of this is when people eat at a restaurant. Sometimes they give the waiter or waitress a hard time because the food is not to their liking. Sometimes I observe how people behave when they are at the checkout counter. They don’t even say “hi” or smile at the people, because they are just going through the motions. However, one has to understand that everyone plays a vital role around us. Let’s take for example the people who take out the trash and clean our offices. If they stop showing up for work, our workplace will be an undesirable place to be in. Therefore it is important to treat everyone with respect regardless of their status or occupation.

When we treat people with respect, they will reciprocate our kindness. Besides, it makes this world a better place to live. Doing so will show that we value them and appreciate what they do for us.

As a parent, I always stress the importance of treating people with respect. I taught my children not to judge people on appearance. I told them that it is not what you have that make you valuable, but rather how you present yourself and treat everyone that matters in life.

In my prior post “Leadership Lessons from My Father”, I talked about how my father had influenced and shaped the person that I turned out to be. Because of that, I’m passing the same lessons to my children. In addition, I also do the same with my mentee. In effect, I believe in paying it forward. I encourage you to treat everyone with respect and you’ll see how it affects others.