That’s Not Fair!
By Carla Foote
That’s Not Fair! How often do you hear that refrain? Whether it is children arguing over the seating arrangement in the car, a referee who makes the wrong call, or a coworker who gets a promotion, sometimes “fairness” is elusive.
Unfortunately, longing for fairness doesn’t stop when we grow out of childhood. While children might argue out loud over who gets the red apple and who gets the green apple, adults often internalize the search for fairness and become bitter over “unfair” situations. In volunteer organizations, someone is always first to sign-up and show-up to help, and others don’t seem to pull their weight. On leadership teams, some team members seem to do the bare minimum and others go above and beyond. In a workplace, there is always someone who seems to do more than her share of work, and someone who just doesn’t see the work that needs to be done. At a previous job I had a coworker who spent the first hour of every day fixing her hair and nails, while I was working! Is that fair?
My son is going on a month-long servant leadership experience this summer. He will be on the work crew at a camp. He did a training weekend in the spring, working in the dishes “pit” at a camp. He said that there was one worker who was always the last to show up for the shift and the first to leave. After the weekend my son commented how hard it was to be working when the other person wasn’t, but he said, “This summer will be different, they screen the work crew very well, so there won’t be any slackers!”
Ah, how I wish that were true!
I’m sure my son will get an education about fairness during his summer experience. He won’t be able to control the actions of his coworkers, but he will be responsible for his own attitude. His reactions to the work and his coworkers will determine his level of contentment with his summer experience. Will he be bitter about how the workload isn’t “fair” or will he have the satisfaction of doing his own job well? There will probably be up and down days, but hopefully he will be open to the lessons learned through service.
As servant leaders we have a choice – we can focus on the fairness of the tasks we are called to perform, or we can decide that we will do the very best job possible, regardless of the attitudes or actions of those around us.
That’s not fair … but maybe I don’t care!
“The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”