Why the term “Fair” is a self-delusion

On my first interview out of college I was asked if it was better to be fair or consistent.  I answered fair, thinking it was much nobler that the non-sexy foe.  My soon to be boss then asked me if I were to ask a Democrat and Republican the same question about taxes would they both come to the same “fair” conclusion?  It dawned on me that fair is always in the eye of the beholder and has no basis in reality. Consistent on the other hand does a day in, day out job that makes for great bosses, employers and spouses.

Fairness comes from our thoughts, but is manipulated by our motivated reasoning.  Our unconscious motivations tend to be biased based on our life, our teachers and circumstances.  If we are watching a football game and there is a penalty on our side, we naturally are unhappy with the decision even if it was correct.  This self-delusion is found in all of us, but there are ways to combat it if you are willing to be introspective and wish to change.

The key to learning to hate the word “fair” and embrace consistent is to understand that we are emotional creatures.  Once you accept that emotions can play a large part in your decisions then you can move forward.  Curiosity is one of the big keys, you need to dig in and not just accept things at face value.  You need to unhook your self-worth from never being wrong and maintaining beliefs because you have espoused them.  You need to gain pleasure and confidence from having changed your mind to a better argument.  You need to feel virtue at testing your own beliefs and understand that changing your mind is strength, not weakness.  Self worth should not be tied to how right or wrong you are, but in your ability to be flexible as facts change.


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