You Don’t Get Many Second Chances

By Lee Collins •  Updated: 08/28/16 •  8 min read
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The phone call I just finished urged me to “come speak at my event next weekend”. And I said yes. The problem was I only had maybe $16 in cash to my name. My bank account was negative. And the event was in Las Vegas. I lived in Michigan at the time and flights would be at least $300 if not more.

And even if I did get out there, how would I get a room or eat? Sixteen dollars won’t get me very far in this crappy little Michigan town, and in Vegas it wouldn’t even pay for the cab ride from the airport to the hotel.

I felt the urge to call him back. To let him know my situation. But the hour had grown late and I was just plain embarrassed. I had alluded to my situation a little on the call but he insisted that if I can just come and speak I would be able to make some money by picking up a client or two.

This may be true, but how would I get there?

He had no idea how bad things were financially. He didn’t know I often had to dig in my couch to find money to eat. And I couldn’t tell him anyway. He was a friend and he respected me and I didn’t want to let him down.

How am I going to do this?

I went to bed that night with that question burning in my mind, and was convinced that I would be calling him back and making some excuse about why I could not go.

The next morning I made myself some instant grits for breakfast, and I cried.

Then I went upstairs and grabbed my gun.

It was a Glock 23. I sat down at the table, popped out the magazine and caressed the 40 caliber jacketed hollowpoints pondering my next decision. Clicking the magazine back into the handle, I chambered a round and gently placed the gun on the table next to my bowl of half-eaten and now cold grits.

I sat there for what felt like an eternity as I weighed the possibilities. And when I saw no other answer illuminating itself for me I wrapped my shaky hand around the grip, took a deep breath and closed my eyes. Then my beautiful Siberian Husky Shelby walked under the table, rested her head on my knee like she loved to do and licked my left hand.

And I knew what I had to do.

I dropped the magazine from the gun, ejected the round from the chamber, popped all the bullets out of the magazine and placed it all back on the table.

I grabbed my phone and found the number for the nearest pawn shop and he offered me $325 for the gun.

Just enough to make it to Vegas.

The event was only 4 days away and somehow I found a flight for just over $300. That still left me with no money for a room or to eat, but I knew if I could just get there I trusted that everything would work itself out one way or another.

I bought the ticket and arrived in Sin City with just a small carry-on (since I couldn’t afford the bag fee), and when I called the hotel they told me their last free shuttle for the day had just left 15 minutes earlier so I had to catch a cab. I resigned myself that even though it wouldn’t be enough I would give the driver all the money I had and would quickly walk away hoping he wouldn’t chase me.

I walked up to the cab and climbed in, placing my bag on the seat beside me.

And that’s when it happened.

In the dark, I saw something move on the floor of the cab. It looked like paper so out of curiosity I reached down and as I lifted it into the light I saw it was a $20 bill.

Then I saw more paper and grabbed it all and it wasn’t just one twenty it was a whole stack of 20’s and some 10’s and a few ones. In an instant I decided that if I gave it to the cabbie he would probably just keep it anyway instead of returning it to the owner, and I desperately needed it so I quickly stuffed it into my jacket pocket, closed my eyes and whispered a  sincere “THANK YOU”.

I knew this was a gift for me. When we arrived at the hotel I paid the $32 for the ride and the driver was very appreciative of the generous $18 tip.

After I checked into my room I pulled all the money from my pocket and in all, there was $847.00 on the dark floor of the cab that night. More than enough to pay for my room and my food for the weekend, and to cover most of my (already late) rent when I got home. I spoke on stage as planned and made a few small package sales. Plus, I picked up two new clients that weekend. One client paid me the first $1500 installment in cash on the spot.

I flew home a VERY changed man.

They say “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” and that may be true for many of my other trips (my lips are sealed), but this trip (over 3 years ago now) to what some people call “The Capital of Second Chances” was different for me than the other Vegas weekends in so many ways.

My faith and trust that “if you trust it will, everything will work out as it should” grew infinitely deeper that week, and as I reflect today on the many blessings in my life I know they are all here because I trust that they will be.

A favorite quote of mine is by Jeffrey Anderson from his book “The Nature of Things” and he reminds us to consider:

“We trust nature to know what it is doing, but we are not nearly so kind, understanding and trusting of our own rhythms and cycles. It’s ridiculous that we are so hard on ourselves. Can we not trust that the very same forces that created the rhythms and cycles of nature created our own? Of course we can. We often don’t, but we can, if we remember.”

And so I trust. And I remember. And I am grateful. Every single day. For every single thing that happens.

I doubt there are many people who truly believe “it will all work out as it should for the greater good of everyone involved” more that I do. And the people (and things) in my life just keep getting better and better as a result.

You being here and taking the time to share this story with me is all the proof I need for me to know I made the right decision.




Update: First, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for all the kind words. I am grateful to you more than you will ever know. This story has received such unbelievably overwhelming positive response that I believe it’s fair here to add a final thought as you ponder the many layers of journey you may have experienced as you read through the words above.

The untold part of the story is this:

As I slowly walked toward the cab that night, knowing I didn’t even have the money to pay the fare in full, I posed a question, and the question I asked aloud was, “OK, I took the first step and I’m here. Now where am I going to find the money to pay for a hotel and food?”. I asked not because I was worried, but because I had complete conviction that I would get my answer. I didn’t worry or try to figure out the “how” – I asked and just trusted it would all work out in a positive way. And 5 steps later that question was answered and I responded immediately with “thank you”.

With just a little bit of faith and trust, what an amazing world we all can live in! And we all get second chances. Often way more than one. Will you choose to level up, or will you just give up? It’s what we decide to do with our second chance that counts.

Lee Collins

Lee Collins is a former Air Force Network Systems Engineer and Fortune 500 Corporate VP - who is best known as an early pioneer of Direct Response Marketing on the Internet. He has over 24+ years experience running operations for multiple multi-million dollar marketing, software, SEO, financial, and business coaching companies. When Lee isn't helping his private clients solve big (and small) marketing and operations problems, Lee is most likely heading up into the mountains in his fully-equipped Jeep Gladiator. Or just gone fishing.