A few months ago I was at a conference being interviewed about my courses for LinkedIn Learning and was asked why I enjoy teaching. I didn't have time to construct a sophisticated answer so I just kind of spit out the most honest thing I could think of at the moment.
"I teach because at some point somebody helped me and now it's my turn to help the next generation."
As time passed I thought more about that question until I came up with a new one: when in your life did someone give you a break you did not deserve?
I remember my first job after college. Up this point I had been working part time doing data entry and web design while taking classes. My company had two employees in it, myself and the founder of the company (who went out to be a reality TV star interestingly enough).
Well I had very little experience with resumes at this point so I did my best to dress up my limited job history. Comically I remember stating that I was the Vice President of my former company. It wasn't totally untrue; my boss had said he wanted to give me an opportunity to potentially run the business with him if I stuck around. I didn't.
So fast forward to my first job interview in Los Angeles and the man sitting across from me reviews my qualifications.
"Vice President?" he asked curiously. He chuckled. "Yeah, I remember when I worked for a company with two people in it once."
I was embarrassed. I'd interviewed for a handful of companies, no offers yet. I explained that I was a hard worker and a fast learner and that I could handle any problem they could throw at me.
But this man saw something in me. He said that I didn't have enough experience with Java to fill their Senior Developer role (duh!), but he liked me and thought maybe there was something else they could offer me.
He went into the other room and talked with his colleague and then came back and told me that they were looking for someone to create reports for the internal business. The job required good knowledge of SQL and using Crystal Reports. My SQL was pretty decent and I wasn't afraid of new software, so I told him this was just the kind of opportunity I was looking for.
Long story short, I moved from Reporting Manager to developer over the next year and eventually became a productive member of the team, leveraging that experience to take me to the next job (and the next) until I ended up where I am today.
The point is that all of this was made possible by somebody giving me a chance I did not deserve. All I had at this point was an education, a suit, and a promise that I would work hard and not let them down.
I would have been very easy for them to filter me out of the job search and say "Sorry, you're not right for this position." Click. And they would have been totally justified. But, for whatever reason (fate, God, karma), this man showed me kindness and gave me a shot--a shot which I was determined not to take for granted.
So give somebody who doesn't deserve it a chance. You might just change the trajectory of their life.