The L.A.S.T. Chance

The L.A.S.T. Chance

I had an urge for a milkshake. This was no ordinary urge; like a sailor being lured onto the rocks by the sirens, it made me turn the car around. I headed to Rita’s, driven by my inner voice.  Rita’s is a nation-wide franchise specializing in Italian ice, gelatos, and custards; and they make a mean milkshake.  After parking, I walked to the window and placed my order.  While I waited, my eyes drifted to a sign intended for the cashier (called a Treat Team Member).  I had been to Rita’s many times before but never noticed the sign which read: 

“The L.A.S.T. Chance”

The L.A.S.T. Chance Principle should be utilized to assist in Guest relations.  Following this process will assist Treat Team Members in resolving a Guest’s issue properly and professionally.

  • Listen to the Guest concerns.
  • Apologize.  Acknowledge the Guests concerns and apologize for the inconvenience.
  • Suggest.  Provide a solution to meet or exceed the Guests’ expectations.
  • Thank the Guest for bringing it to your attention and ask them to return.

If you think Rita’s principle is about “customer service,” you’d be right, but perhaps more importantly, it’s about accepting responsibility and seeking redemption.  It’s about relationships and what to do when you make a mistake or there is dissatisfaction with your decision or action.   

You won’t find Rita’s listed in “Fortune’s Best Companies to Work for with Servant Leadership (Forbes).” I doubt Rita’s expected to be the focus of a leadership blog; but their principle provides a valuable lesson for aspiring leaders; especially those choosing to follow Jesus. 

Everyone makes mistakes.

How many times have you said, “if only I had known”; or “I’d do it differently if I had another chance?” Everyone makes mistakes. You shouldn’t ignore mistakes and they can have real consequences; but Colossians 3:13 (NLV) tells us:

“Try to understand other people. Forgive each other. If you have something against someone, forgive him. That is the way the Lord forgave you.”

We have been making mistakes since the first bite of the apple. We tend to use several mechanisms to deal with mistakes or avoid them.  Firstly, we ignore, cover, or sweep mistakes under the carpet hoping they aren’t noticed. When we chose this strategy, we sentence ourselves to life-long probation.  We are constantly looking over our shoulder fearing our mistake will be discovered; we are always “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” 

Secondly, we seek to excuse our actions or divert blame onto someone else.  If you’re a parent you’ve probably heard, “they did it first.”  At work, you may have heard, “I’m sorry I missed the deadline, but I thought Joe was handling that.”  Using these strategies is like seeing the speck in your friend’s eye while ignoring the log in our own eye (Matthew 7:3, CEV).  Author Ron Carpenter, Jr. (2012) tells us that:

“A teachable spirit and a humbleness to admit your ignorance or your mistake will save you a lot of pain. However, if you're a person who knows it all, then you've got a lot of heavy-hearted experiences coming your way.”

Leadership isn’t about affixing blame or being right, more often than not, it’s about creating an environment where people are given the freedom and chance to make, and perhaps learn from mistakes.  We’d likely be better leaders, parents, friends, employees and coworkers, if we lived in an environment where we were given the chance to make mistakes without fear of ridicule, punishment or persecution. 

Chances provide us opportunities to get things right, while granting us permission to make mistakes.  French essayist, Francois La Rochefoucauld, wrote:

Chance corrects us of many faults that

 reason would not know how to correct.

It takes courage to admit and confess our mistakes, especially to our leaders and significant others.

It takes courage to admit and confess our mistakes, especially to our leaders and significant others.  We admit our mistakes because we want to make things right and the relationship is important to us. 

Whether you’ve made a mistake, or someone else made it, the “L.A.S.T. Chance” principle provides an alternative to reactive defensive coping mechanisms.  Keep in mind that our initial focus may be the mistake; but if it’s important, and we want to improve the relationship we should:

Listen:  When others admit their mistakes listen without casting blame or making judgments.  If you are admitting a mistake, listen and respond appropriately.

Apologize:  If you made the mistake, be specific when apologizing.  Accept responsibility rather than cast blame, shift attention, or provide a general “I’m sorry,” it will only cast doubt on your sincerity and motives. 

When others admit their mistakes be understanding and supportive, remember it wasn’t easy for them.  Trying to say something like: 

“I can see how you’re feeling about it. I’m sorry that the mistake happened but let’s see how we can fix it together.”

Suggest:  Relationships aren’t one- sided, you can involve others by asking, “What can we do to fix this or make it right?”

Thank:  People don’t complain or admit mistakes unless they care, and they generally try to keep bad news from you. Be gracious and thankful. 

Remember, mistakes don’t have to be death sentences. In fact, Proverbs 28:13 (TLB) tells us:

“A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.”

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Gilbert Camacho

Gilbert Camacho serves as President, Organizational Leadership Solutions, a management consulting firm, based in Melbourne, Florida.  Gilbert is a certified Lead Like Jesus Facilitator with extensive leadership experience in the private, public and non-profit sectors.  He has been a contributing author to the Lead Like Jesus Blog for almost 3 years writing monthly on such issues as servant leadership, accountability, trust and integrity.  Gilbert s a sought-after Speaker, Trainer, and Executive Coach.  Gilbert is a Registered Shared Neutral (Mediator) with the State Supreme Court of Georgia.  He recently retired an Associate Director for the Human Resources Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.  Gilbert has been married to his best friend, Annie, for almost 40 years.  Together they have raised two beautiful daughters, Holley and Logan. 

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