Hey, is that Chip on your Shoulder Heavy?
Your view of the world is a funny thing. It’s a lens that no other single person has. Your views make you unique, and in most Western countries are able to be expressed as freedom of thought. But what if your world view is weighing you down?
I have worked in either Human Resources or Finance for most of my career. As a result, I have usually been privy to the salary of others, performance ratings, expense account spending – you name it, I have had access to it. I learnt pretty quickly to treat that information for what it is, a set of business numbers, nothing else.
Earlier in my career, I worked in a team of HR consultants. We were a varied bunch, but universally keen to do well in our chosen profession. One of my colleagues – who was doing a stint in the remuneration area, had much to say about what the organisation paid its technical staff vs what other staff (like HR staff) were getting paid. She took the pay disparity personally and was highly resentful – full set of knickers twisted. Now it was true, the tech staff were paid more than the HR staff who were at commensurate levels of experience, even though, we, as HR, were very fairly remunerated within the broader HR industry view.
Australia, in particular is a highly egalitarian society. This plays out in funny ways. We don’t talk about how much money we make, for example. The concept (according to a recent Podcast I listened to – Money: it’s personal – more secret than sex) is that our egalitarian views mean it is considered vulgar to discuss how much we have and it may be considered offensive to others if we have more than them (anyone out there heard of tall poppy syndrome – apparently worse in Australia than anywhere else in the world). We have an innate sense of fairness culturally that comes into play, and that includes in the workplace.
So, what if you always feel like things are unfair? What if you are the person who always feels like you don’t get enough (pay, projects, time in a particular part of your organisation)?
I’m not going to insult your intelligence and tell you that life is not fair. You know this, I am assuming that you are over the age of ten. But I am going to suggest that how you process the fact that life is not fair can help or harm your success at work.
Back to earlier in my career and generally I didn’t play into the whole techs get paid more than I do, and this was for two reasons:
- I figured I could always become a tech if the money was that important to me; and
- Techs did on average at least an additional year of study than most HR folks had, and there were less of them in the market (simple supply and demand).
For me, fairness didn’t enter the equation. My colleague however, could not get past it. Her sense of fairness was so thoroughly compromised that it ultimately hindered her ability to do her job well. It tainted her work with the techs and on occasion her resentment bubbled over and came out as vitriol. She blamed others for her circumstances and it ended up costing her professional credibility.
I know we can’t change the way we were raised, or many of the thinking patterns that were instilled into us via our community, beliefs or culture. But I do believe that putting energy into resenting others for something you don’t have is exhausting at the least, damaging at worst. Do yourself a favour, take the chip off your shoulder, leave it on a beach or something, concentrate on your own goals and what you are trying to achieve, don’t worry so much about the work lives of others.
I suspect you’ll feel much lighter for it.
Are you weighing yourself down? What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment below.