My oldest son Hayden has recently started to play indoor soccer in a local league.

His team won their first two games (with Hayden kicking the winning goal in the dying seconds of the first game), but this week’s game was a crash back to reality.

Hayden and his team-mates are only five, but the opposing team was much older and more experienced.  They lost and Hayden was aware of the age gap and we discussed this apparent unfairness on the way home from the game.

As we chatted, I realised that unfair competition isn’t confined to junior soccer leagues.  

Despite our best intentions, the reality is that there are unfair situations that we are confronted by on a regular basis, whether it’s in business, social situations or your career.

Here are a few things to consider when confronted with situations that you believe are unfair.

Don’t feel too entitled.  The reality of life is that there is never a level playing field, yet we are generally only aware of this when the cards are stacked against us. 

I’ve assisted many people in their careers who apply for a job and feel that they are entitled to get it, that it would be the only fair outcome.  To that perspective, I would respond that what if there is someone else who was better qualified, more experienced and smarter?  I occasionally receive blank looks from clients as they had never before considered that someone else may have a more reasonable claim on “their” job. 

If you still feel a sense of entitlement, it may be worth considering the situation of others before you complain too hard.

Have fun.  Life is unfair sometimes.  There are times when we all are punching above our weight-class.  You can complain about it, or you can keep smiling and have fun.  Whether your field of endeavour is junior soccer, big business or anything in between, it’s always better and you’re more effective when you do it with a smile on your face.

Do your best.  There’s something about being the underdog that can bring out the best in you.  You don’t get to choose  your competition, but you do get to choose your response.  This response should always be to do your best and try to perform at your highest possible level. 

History is littered with examples of armies, sportsmen and heroic individuals who overcame the unfairness of their circumstances, did their best and conquered their more fancied rivals. 

I find it helpful to keep in mind that everyone loves an underdog, but most people soon get tired of perpetual victims.

Peter McWilliams once said,

No matter what happens to you, no matter how unfair, inequitable or wrong, there’s something you can take from the situation and use for your advancement.

There’s little point in complaining about the unfairness of life. 

Whilst any genuine injustices on the basis of gender, race, religion, age, sexual preference or other issues should always be resisted and fought against, to expect that the odds of fairness will always go your way is unrealistic and ultimately a waste of energy.

Far better to not feel too entitled, have fun and do your best in life.

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