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Volume 9  Number 4   |  April 2019

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Life Isn't Fair

We seem to have some false expectation that life is supposed to be “fair.” We can’t imagine why bad things occur that we don’t deserve (or, for that matter, good things we don’t deserve). There’s an unexpressed belief that someone, somewhere, has a huge ledger and a green visor and is keeping “score.”

Stuff happens. Some things we control, some things we don’t.

The Locus of Control

Our focus should be on refusing to cede control when we don’t have to do so. We can’t control the weather, but we can have a “plan B” for inclement weather. We can choose not to build houses in flood zones and not to schedule vacations during the rainy season.

We have to pay taxes, but we can pay them gradually during the year, maintain a savings account to accrue them, not outspend our income, and hire an outstanding tax accountant.

We can also refuse to surrender the genuine control we have. We can choose not to cancel a vacation just because the client requests those dates. We can demand payment as contractually agreed or stop the work. We can fire people who don’t perform. We can walk out of a bad performance.

There is no other guy “out there” with sleeve protectors keeping track of how often we sacrifice our own objectives for others. You can’t help others effectively unless you help yourself first. That’s why the airlines tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first.

Understanding the Difference

The “serenity prayer” points out that we should accept what we can’t control, control what we can, and have the wisdom to know the difference. Not bad advice.

I’m going to enlarge upon it, however, by pointing out our ability to prevent bad things and promote good things, to mitigate bad results and exploit good results. We all lose loved ones at times. But we should make the most out of those relationships while we can, and not expect anyone (or any pet) will be around forever. We can't prevent the rain but we can come in out of the rain. We can’t force a buyer to buy, but we can create the most compelling argument possible. When a vacation is fabulous, we can extend it.

Bemoaning our fate and asking, “Why me?” never helped anyone. Taking control of what you can and refusing to surrender control at all times will enable you to live the best possible life and help others with theirs.

And all of that begins with your mindset.

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