That's Not Fair!
That’s Not Fair! How often do you hear this 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 the first to sign up and show up to help, while others don’t seem to pull their weight. On leadership teams, some members seem to do the bare minimum while others go above and beyond. In a workplace, there is always someone who seems to do more than his or 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." He said there was one worker who was always the last to show up for the shift and always the first to leave. After the training 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 his work and to 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 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 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.” –Albert Schweitzer
Written by Carla Foote
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