Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's all just so unfair!

Any parent, any elementary school teach, anyone at all that has had even minimal exposure to young children will know of the "it's not fair!" syndrome. Anything at all that does not live up to expectations or injures their delicate little sensitivities is declared stridently to not be fair. No problem is of their own making; things always happen to them, not by their own actions. Negative consequences resulting from their poor decisions are not their own fault, rather they are caused by the unfair actions of others.

Fortunately, most people outgrow that stage.

Not all do, though.

Allow me to illustrate the case of one who didn't with a parable.

Let's look at the case of young Barry. Barry spent two short years in an important job where he was, through the very nature of the work he was supposed to be doing, very well informed about the problems facing his employers. In fact, his job was to assist in solving those problems. Barry soon found that it was easier to blame the big boss for the problems rather than make any meaningful effort to solve them. Just as a child would, Barry blamed everyone but himself for the problems, but primarily he blamed the man currently in charge.

Sometime during the few short years when Barry should have been devoting his attention to learning the subtleties and intricacies of his very important job, Barry realized that he thought that he could avoid all of that hard, inconvenient work simply by telling anyone that would listen that the boss was an idiot that was doing everything completely wrong and that he, Barry, could do it better. Things were tough, and a lot of Barry's friends and co-workers were happy to listen, and in fact even encourage Barry to complain ever louder.

Barry soon began to believe that he did, in fact, know better than anyone else how things should be done. Barry began to believe that a diligent effort to learn how things really worked wasn't necessary. In his naivety, Barry actually started to believe that he really could make the important decisions and be a successful leader of a very complex organization. Barry's friends, desperate for a new boss and willing to do anything to get one of their own choosing, supported Barry's adolescent over confidence.

It came to pass that Barry, after a concerted two year effort of constant denigration of the current boss and scores of unrealistic promises to his friends and supporters, actually managed to get the top job.

Unfortunately for young Barry, the job turned out to be just as hard as everyone that wasn't caught up in the false optimism and fervor had tried to tell him. Barry soon found out that he had no clue whatsoever about how to solve the extremely complex problems now facing him. So, what did Barry do?

Barry cried about the unfairness of it all. Barry, who spent years striving to gain the job, the job that he should have known came with the baggage of almost unsurmountable problems, began to complain about the awful mess that he had "inherited." Ignoring the very apparent and very real fact that he had deliberately campaigned to be the man that would solve each and every one of these problems, Barry whined about his misfortune in having been saddled with all of these issues. Barry continued to blame the former boss for the failure of his desperate attempts to rectify the problems, many of which only made the problems worse.

Knowing that he had bitten off far more than he could chew, Barry began to lash out at former supporters that spoke out against some of his more egregiously bad decisions. He attempted to deflect blame for his poor performance onto people that were not even in positions of responsibility. All the while, Barry praised himself for his stellar performance. In his mind, Barry was convinced that only he knew what needed to be done, and anyone that disagreed must be a personal enemy that was wishing for him to fail, and therefore must be destroyed.

[End of Part 1]