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Posted on Aug 16, 2018

Life May Not Be Fair, But You Can Be

Life May Not Be Fair, But You Can Be

The topic of fairness has been discussed a lot in recent years. Concerns over discrimination, unequal pay for the same job, or even just plain dishonesty often take center stage.

Now this topic has even become personal.

It’s very apparent when we feel that we’ve been treated unfairly, or we see others being treated unfairly. But are we self aware of when we might be treating someone else unfairly?

Here’s the secret: Being fair means we make decisions that are free of discrimination or dishonesty.

Note that fairness has nothing to with equality, or doing what others feel is right. It’s about following a process that is consistent regardless of who is involved.

Here I’m reminded of a Values Quote I did a few years ago on the topic of fairness (referencing a favorate movie of mine). While life might not be fair, you can clearly stand out by applying the value of fairness.


Today’s quote is from William Goldman, an American novelist, playwright and screenwriter. He wrote both the book and screenplay for one of my all-time favorite movies: The Princess Bride.

One of the many great quotes that Goldman wrote for this movie is:

“Who says life is fair, where is that written?”

Even though this is a fun, fictional story, the concept of fairness – or lack thereof – is highlighted everywhere. What Goldman was poking fun at is a basic truth that we all tend to forget: life is not fair.

As a differentiating value, Fairness means ability to make judgments free from discrimination or dishonesty.

Note that fairness has nothing to do with equality, or making people happy, or even achieving what we believe is right.

Rather, fairness is about a process not an outcome.

If we can create an environment that is free of discrimination or dishonesty, then our judgments will be fair. Does that mean everyone will like our decisions? No. Does that mean some will see us as unfair? Yes. That’s life.

If you’re struggling with being fair, consider carefully if you’re trying to please everyone – or simply make good decisions that are free from discrimination or dishonesty.

And once you have made a decision, move forward with confidence. Don’t worry what others think. That’s what makes for great movies – and a great life!