shediditAre you or others in your life doing a little too much blaming and not taking enough ownership and responsibility? As mentioned in the previous post, this personal dysfunction is particularly nasty. It stops all progress in one’s life and can poison the relationships around that individual. After all, who wants to spend quality time with someone who alternates between complaining about the inequities in life and blaming you?

There are three Petri dishes in our life where “It’s not fair” resides, breeds and wreaks havoc: “Work,” “Home” and “The Past.” Over the next three posts I’m going to offer up a quiz for each and then a nice clean prescription to cure what ails you.

Work Is Not Fair QUIZ

Read each statement and give yourself a point for each statement you say “yes” to. At the end, tally up your points and see how you did.

  1. I expect my boss to be responsible for my career path
  2. I expect my boss to be promoting me in meetings when I’m not around
  3. I expect my work product to be enough for me to get recognized at work
  4. I resent that bosses throughout my career have generally treated me unfairly
  5. I resent that some of my colleagues get better treatment than I do
  6. I resent how I’m treated by coworkers at work
  7. I resent the demands my boss places on me
  8. I resent how my career has played out
  9. I deserve more opportunities
  10. I deserve more pay
  11. I deserve a promotion


0-3 “Yes” answers = Normal gripes, complaints and misconceptions common at any workplace. You’re likely in the clear.

4-7 “Yes” answers = You are on the edge of slipping into that deep dark place we call “a lack of personal responsibility.” It will ultimately mean that all of your worse fears of unfairness will likely come true.

8-11 “Yes” answers = You’re there. I would describe your life as a series of daily disappointments, a cesspool of unmet expectations and resentment. A complete attitude overhaul is in order.

Your Prescription

Note the sentence stems in the quiz above. Phrases like “I resent” and “I deserve” are great indicators that one is sitting back waiting and evaluating what life is dishing out. Such phrases are commonly used by editors not authors. Your workplace prescription is simple: author your career and life, don’t just edit what you are given.

Author your long-term career plan – the days are long, long gone (like 1950’s movies gone) when managers took a young promising professional and groomed him or her into a leader, rewarding and promoting them along the way. It is your job to identify what you want and where you want to go in your career. No one elses.

State what you need – if you want a raise, ask for it. If you want a promotion, ask for it. Only by asking can you determine if the organization will give you what you need or if you need to find another home.

Put blinders on – “What?” you say. “Brandon, are you crazy?” Here’s what I mean. If you are clear on what you want, what you need and where you are going, then it doesn’t really matter if your colleague gets picked over you for the promotion to Wichita – particularly if you have no interest in moving there (no offense to our Wichita friends). Focus on you and don’t worry about everyone else. This isn’t middle school… at least it’s not supposed to be.

Keep moving forward – always keep looking for other opportunities inside your organization AND outside your organization that will keep you moving down your career path. When we stop moving and creating, we begin editing and complaining. Keep moving.

There you have it. Your prescription for staving off the dysfunction of “it’s not fair.” As long as you keep moving forward and continue to author the story of your career and life, you will be a happy, empowered and dare I say “healthy” adult.

Or, then again, you can just choose to blame others. If you haven’t seen the Disney movie, “Meet the Robinsons,” you’re missing out. I think this clip sums up the choice in front of each of us quite well.