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Life Is Not Fair

I’ll let you in on a little secret, Life is not Fair. The sooner you come to grips with that reality the better off you will be financially and the happier you will be.

A recent  encounter with life not being fair

Recently I left a role as a manager at my mega corporation. I struggled to keep my organization moving due to a lack of resources and an inability to have my global team meet in person. I held the group together for 3 years in this perpetual state of long hours and stress. It ultimately lead to me moving on to a non-management role in my company.

My replacement as manager was brought in at a pay grade above mine. Within a month of his hiring he hired 3 new people and he brought them all together to discuss their situation. Those things I tried for 3 years to accomplish with no management support he got in the first 2 months.

As I look back I’m a bit frustrated that I received no support while my replacement gets everything asked for and is essentially following my plan. The reality is this occurred simply because management knew I’d find a way to make it work when I worked in that role. And I did. My replacement has less relevant experience, so they are giving him every advantage they can to keep up. So, there is a legitimate reason even if it’s not necessarily fair to me.

Life is not fair, S%#@ happens

Life has a million of these types of stories. It can be from decision of those in charge, whether it be the manager that we report to, the professor, the executive, or if we’re an entrepreneur even our customers. However, it’s not always driven by people in power. In some cases, it’s just a product of genetics or blind luck.

Some people are even just born able to do things easily that others of us find difficult. When I was in college I’d see this all the time. The genius’ at my engineering school would just look sideways at their latest assignment and it would be done in a few hours. In my case, it would take a full week or more to do the same task. In other case’s it’s blind luck: winning the lottery, a raffle, or even being born to the right person/country.

Life is not fair, because we are not equal and never will be

So, from this aspect Life is not fair as we are not born equal and we’re not treated equally. Life is not fair. Then again when you think about it hard some of these scenarios probably tilt in your favor. Perhaps you know someone who got you a job. Maybe you were born to loving parents who ensured you got a great education. Or maybe it’s just that you were born in a country with opportunities rather than one where it is more limited in ability for anyone to get ahead.

Maybe you have some skill that comes easier that others struggle with. In other words, in some cases life favors you and in others it favors someone else. Life is not fair, but it is so universally, not just to you. Once you come to grips with that you will be happier, you will have gratitude. I also believe you will be wealthier.

Once you understand not everything is under your control nor is every task something your born to excel at, you can shift your approach.

Focus on the things for which you have a talent or advantage.

Everyone has some talent, it’s just a matter of utilizing it correctly. If you’re an extrovert look at something that requires social skills like sales. I have a friend who could make friends with anyone. I’d love to have his talents some days. His skills lend themselves to sales, communications, or customer service. Focusing on those areas would be in his best interest.

I see all types of arguments on why you should be an engineer because they make the big bucks. That’s true of a good engineer, but that might not be your advantage. Trying to shove your round peg into that square hole will only make you unhappy and/or unsuccessful.  Focus on the things your good at.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Remind yourself of the good that comes out of the situation. When life seems unfair, push past it by reminding yourself of the upside of the situation. For example, in my story about my old role the good is my replacement has an opportunity to improve the organization now that the resources to support it are finally in place. That’s good for him, but it’s also good for me as a shareholder and employee. The better he is at his job, as one factor among many, the better I am paid.

Lessons Learned

Use the situation as a lesson.   Think about what can be learned that might be applied to further you ahead in the future. Maybe there is an underlying reason for the situation you can leverage in a different way. In my case the reason is clearly my management thought highly of me to think I could hold it together without what I clearly needed. Just imagine how I can leverage that into a better position or one that pays more later.


Use the situation as a motivator. Take the situation and use it to drive you to bigger success. Many an entrepreneur got their start by leaving a company that failed to given them a chance. They made their own situation by working for themselves. Sure, they still ultimately have a boss in their customers, but they still changed fundamentally the relationship with their boss and thus the dynamic in the future. I recently finished the book “The Millionare Mind” by Stanley. In it he points out that millionares like critics, because their critique is a great motivator in driving them to succeed.  In a similar way you should use your own critique of your failures as well as other’s critiques to drive you to success.

Remind yourself you do not control everything. Sometimes you just have to learn to let it go and keep pushing forward. Focus on what you can change and control. Forget the problems of the past except for as a learning opportunity and focus on enjoying today.

When in your life have you felt that life is not fair? How have you turned lemons into lemonade by leveraging that event.


  1. Dan
    Dan May 29, 2017

    No offense but your story sound like the typical corporate bullshit that people have to rationalize otherwise they will be come bitter and/or go postal. If you think the situation is so great, then consider this. If management had given you the new employees, would you still be at your old job? If so, management could have had the same outcome but with you as manager at a lower pay grade. Wouldn’t that be better all around? You have more relevant experience and are one pay grade below the replacement?

    Frankly, it sounds like bad management. If it happened to you, it likely has happened to others. This is the type of stuff that leads talented people to leave companies.

    In my experience, if you feel you are not being treated unfairly by your management, there are likely others that feel the same way. If there are a lot of employees feeling they are being treated unfairly, that speaks to the quality of management. Good management is tough enough because making the correct decisions are hard enough. Making the wrong decisions and alienating your workforce is recipe for failure as a company.

    There is not being bitter and there is ignoring the fact that your company took advantage of you for three years. There is a lot of room between those two points that seems to be glossed over in this post.

    • May 29, 2017

      Hi Dan, I totally agree they did take advantage of me. I also agree management at my company is poor. We survive because we are in a growing sector, no more or less. I’m still here because I have a large golden handcuff and my commute is three minutes.

      Here is the thing, when I left management I did so to a large raise with no direct reports. I am the same level as my replacement now, but without the headaches of performance reviews. I wasn’t forced out of my former job, I left to a better opportunity. That’s really the point of this post.

      Life sucks, but you choose to put up with it or move on. Each negative opens a new door.

  2. MyMoneyDesign
    MyMoneyDesign May 29, 2017

    As a manager at my former job, I have been in this same exact position many times. It’s frustrating and I can feel your pain. They want you to produce but then don’t give you the resources to do so. Then they give them freely to some new hot-shot; as if to stack the deck. There is really no rationalizing it.

    … hence why they are not my “former” job ….

    • May 29, 2017

      I wish these stories were rarer. Hopefully your new job is a better situation.

  3. Mike Collins
    Mike Collins May 29, 2017

    Your story is all too common in corporate. Some people have to work their butts off to prove themselves over and over again and pay their dues while others shoot to the top immediately. Are they really that much better or do they happen to know someone, or are they just good at kiss-a$$.

    Life is definitely not fair, but there’s not much you can do about it.

    • May 29, 2017

      Its not what you know, it’s who you know. Sadly that means those of us born with less connections or without the innate ability to kiss up are at inherent disadvantage. And yet there are still ways to succeed if you keep plugging along.

  4. Kevin
    Kevin May 30, 2017

    I would like to say this is rare, but I have seen it too many times. It seems the way things are set up, there is an insufficient supply of certain skill sets (engineers, special IT tech, etc.) so certain people are rewarded by job hoping every 2-3 years – they jump up the chain quickly. Meanwhile, folks with the same skills at the company are taken for granted.

    If the newcomers are smart, they feel out the company and make them provide assurances on hiring, training, etc. Then, after 2-3 years, they hop again.

    Good management tries to do internal training and hiring, and looks towards the future, but that is difficult to do, and only good management does this.

    My congratulations on getting moved to a better paying job with no subordinates. I currently have four engineers under me, but would like to get to a role where I am just doing my own work.

    • May 31, 2017

      Thanks Kevin. I hope an opportunity opens up for you in a well paying individual contributor role.

  5. Grant @ Life Prep Couple
    Grant @ Life Prep Couple May 30, 2017

    Life isn’t fair. Never has been and never will be and I am not sure why so many people expect it to be.

    I have been given projects which had no chance of success and told them as much on day 1. I would always be assured it was on them not me if things don’t work out. A week later I’m the one in front of the execs answering all the why are we late questions.

    Sometimes harder to recognize are all the countless projects where someone bailed me out when they didn’t have to.

    • May 31, 2017

      Very true, its hard to recognize all of the situations where you should be grateful where you benefited. Still it’s worth considering occasionally as otherwise you begin thinking the grass is greener somewhere else (which is usually not the case, at least in the corporate world).

  6. Passive Income M.D.
    Passive Income M.D. May 30, 2017

    Sounds like you’re using this as motivation to move onto bigger and better things. What are some of those things? Inquiring minds would like to know.

    • May 31, 2017

      Hi Passive Income M.D.
      In the short term I leveraged the situation into my current role. Much better pay (20 percent more) and no direct report responsibility. I am still contemplating where we go from here, though the motivation is driving me towards larger opportunities.

  7. Mustard Seed Money
    Mustard Seed Money May 30, 2017

    A couple of jobs ago I definitely didn’t get the support that I needed from above. The projects that I worked on just languished. Now someone that was junior to me is trying to pick up my projects using the same template that I built and receiving the resources that he needs. Like you it’s like why didn’t I get this support along the way. Drives me crazy!!!

    • May 31, 2017

      Corporate politics, just imagine where the world would be if things pulled more efficiently.

  8. Mr. Need2save
    Mr. Need2save May 30, 2017

    I’ve played to my strengths over the years and things have turned out pretty well. I’ve been at my current employer for 20 years (almost embarrassed to admit that) and there are some folks with similar tenure that are VPs – and I’m not. Is that fair? Probably as they toe the company line better than I do.

    • May 31, 2017

      20 years is significant in this day and age. I’m at 10. Theres a big gap where I work, a bunch of 30 year tenure and a bunch of 2 year tenure. I’m an oddity in the middle. Like you, I play to my strengths and keep moving. It has worked out well on the whole, but there have definitely been unfair moments.

  9. Jacq
    Jacq July 24, 2017

    I appreciate your positive spin. At the last place I worked, the subtext mindset seemed to be ‘you are expendable’. (I saw Cloud Atlas a month ago, and the future timeline comes to mind.) We’ll see how much you can do with a little less, and if you burn out, not our mess to clean up. (I still cringe when my current boss asks me to her office. One time it was to offer me cupcakes.)
    At that ‘last place’ a gal who did the same work as I did left and they brought in a guy. Only instead of training him as my back up, they kept me on project A (doing twice the work) and trained him on project B. So they didn’t actually replace the person who left. Then during that time we had an employee ‘get stuck’ overseas due to a visa issue, and I took on his work. At review time, I said I’d gone above and beyond in stepping into these gaps, and was told nope that’s not ‘exceptional’ that’s ‘other duties as assigned’.
    I’m very glad you enjoy where you are and have the positive outlook, I’m perhaps too young to be this jaded.

    • fulltimefinance
      fulltimefinance July 27, 2017

      There are definitely aspects to be jaded about. The problem is if you become too jaded it consumes you. It can literally kill your career and sometimes life beyond. My philosophy is, if you can’t change it, then you need to find a way to make it a positive.

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