How to Thrive When You Feel The Sting of Unfairness

Unfairness abounds in organizational life.

Your company merged with a competitor and your position was eliminated.

You didn’t get the promotion. It’s not fair.

You never thrive when unfairness derails your focus and drains your enthusiasm.

“Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” (Unknown)

It’s not fair when the refs get it wrong:

Basketball is the game of the gods. March Madness is the best three weeks of Spring. But…

Sometimes the referees get it wrong. During the Texas Tech/Gonzaga game, the ref clearly missed an out of bounds call. It happens! (NCAA video.)

Any player that worries about bad calls is playing below their potential. Forget the referees. Just go play your best game.

Successful players focus on the next play, not the last play.

“… whatever you have just done is not nearly as important as what you are doing right now.” Krzyzewski

When unfairness stings:

The sting of unfairness hits home when:

  1. Your boss takes credit for your idea.
  2. Lack of affirmation feels like disrespect. Nearly 80% of those who feel disrespected lose commitment.
  3. Your co-worker tarnishes your reputation with gossip.

Sometimes the people who DON’T do the work get ahead because they’re riding on the backs of people who do the work.


Ego bristles at unfairness.

  1. Ego says, “I deserve better.” Humility presses through unfairness and continues serving. Ego throws in the towel.
  2. Ego whispers, “It’s not worth it.” Unfairness takes the wind out of ego’s sails.
  3. Ego wonders why others get ahead when they don’t work as hard as you.
  4. Ego incites anger and invites bitterness. Pay-backs are joyfully anticipated by ego.

Ego invites you to become your worst self when faced with unfairness.

Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Tighten your belt and press forward with enthusiasm.

What helps you thrive in the face of unfairness?