Fairness: A Pillar of Character

We have been told to be fair since we were kids. Well at least most of us. Fairness is a trait everyone expects from their leaders. Everyone playing by the same set of rules is one way of thinking of fairness. A few more include being open minded, not taking advantage of others, and not blaming others. Before we start on these I would like to say that fairness is not the same as equal. This is a misconception many have. Think of life consisting as a formula. The variables in the formula consist of your talents, intellect, and abilities. The variables will not always be equal to others. Fairness is when two people are being given the same formula. We all have different work rates, abilities, and talents, so we will have different variables.

On that note we will talk about the first idea and that is playing by the same set of rules as everyone else. This is probably the first kind of fairness we face even as kids. When playing sports we expect everyone to play by the same set of rules. It doesn't matter the strength or ability of our opponents. We have to find a way to compete using what we have. This is what underdogs do to win. Fairness is having the same set of regulations for everyone.

Being open minded is not shooting down others ideas because they do not match up with yours. This wouldn't be fair. I had an ethics teachers tell me once that a revolution starts with 1 person. If that person's ideas were shot down all the time because they think different form everyone else, a great change may never happen. When someone comes up to you with a new and different idea, take the time to think about it and give it at least a little consideration.

Being taken advantage of is a hard thing to overcome. This is a very upsetting feeling that comes sometimes with heartache or depression. Once I was a young new recruit at a landscaping company. The owner sent me to mow a lawn that was about 2 acres mostly on a hill with a push mower. When payday came I asked him how much did I make from that job and he replied zero. He told me that was just a responsibility for being on the crew. We were getting paid by the job, so needless to say he took advantage of me and kept that money. This was my cue to leave. Being taken advantage of is so deep that I still remember it 11 years later. Usually the newest person on the team might get taken advantage of because either they do not know any better or they are just trying to be accepted and are willing to do anything. If you have any control over these situations please do not let this happen.

The last trait is also included in responsibility and that is taking the blame and not blaming others. This is important to do because it shows that you are willing to do your part in fixing problems. Normally when the blame is passed, the solution is put off until it becomes detrimental. I would also suggest finding your place in the mistake. It is easy for leaders to place blame on other for mistakes they made. It is the responsibility of the leader to make sure they picked the right people for the job and that they have what they need to get the job complete. Great leaders will look at a situation and find how they can affect a future outcome without having direct involvement in it. This isn't to say take all the blame for all mistakes, but to ask yourself, "Could I have done anything different to have had a better outcome in this situation?"

Sometimes fairness can be a bit hard to calculate. With these 4 steps it should be a little easier to navigate it in the workplace, or even in your personal life. Just remember to play by the same rules, be open minded, don't allow people to be taken advantage of, and don't put off the blame. Always be fair and just.