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Winning over Justice

One of my core values is, and has always been Just- or Fairness (‘Rechtvaardigheid’ is the much broader Dutch word that suits me better). It’s what drives a lot of my behavior and it’s what has the most profound influence on the way I’m getting through my days. Obviously, since that’s pretty much why it’s a core value. But I digress (in the first paragraph already? Jeez, Zoë, get it together!).

Finding out what your core values are isn’t exactly the easiest of processes, and in my experience it was quite a grueling endeavor to get to the point where I can recognize AND maximize them to my advantage. I have my employer and line of work to thank for that opportunity, as my participation in several high potential and/or success programmes with intricate personal development courses allowed me to delve this deep into my being and reflect on the person my values make me. The company and this knowledge have helped me grow as a person over these past 5 years. Immensely so, even. Especially now that I know, acknowledge and accommodate my core values on a more daily basis. Actively, instead of passively.

Fairness as a core value isn’t too complicated when viewed on the whole. As long as the things happening around me are (perceived by me as) fair – life is good. And when they aren’t? I get itches that need to be scratched. A balance that has to be returned. A wrong that has to be made right. Which, overall, is quite doable because I have created a world around myself that feels ‘fair’ to me. As far as possible (with the chaos in the world etc.).

But when you look at it on a more detailed level – fairness isn’t exactly an easy feature in a world like ours, that is built on imbalance and unfairness. There’s a lot of scenario’s where this value comes into play (way more than you might at first consider) and a whole lot of them are outside of my realm of influence altogether, leaving me in the negatives when I perceive unfairness and can’t do anything about it.

In the past, I’ve had periods where things just ‘weren’t tying in‘ to how I needed them to be. Times where I saw injustice done (to me or others) or viewed the world around me as being set up to work against me instead of with/for me. Fight or flight situations, to me, that couldn’t be looked away from. Grinding into the core of my being and steering my moods and actions. Which, looking back, weren’t all handled in the best of ways (I’m definitely a ‘fight’ kinda person).

Those moments ranged from silly things to more important matters. From the intangible to the material and from physical to emotional. There was the time that my colleague (started at the company at the same time and performing less well than I was on all fronts) got almost double the salary increase that I did. A cringe of unfairness to me, not because I’m all that much concerned about salary but because the unfairness of that process struck a nerve way down deep.

Was it because he was a guy in a predominantly male environment? Or the fact that his supervisor saw him as a buddy instead of as an asset while mine perceived me as a chore? It didn’t matter – it was the injustice of that (albeit relatively small) difference that had me all worked up. It got fixed after I spoke up about it (still a proud moment) and showed me how ‘just taking it’ isn’t always the best course of action.

There were moments in relationships were boundaries were unfairly created and/or crossed, resulting in increasing unhappiness and ugly battles – withering, eventually, into breakups. And that time earlier this year, when I joined a (male) softball-team in which I can’t play several of the positions ‘because I’m a girl’ (as stated by the sports association, not the team-members, fyi). Lots and lots of small and bigger things that play up in my day to day life where I feel a twitch in ‘the justice department’ of my heart and soul. And something I have to manage and work on, to avoid having it taking over my thoughts and actions, resulting in losing control.

So when I first felt a twinge of injustice in my current job, I immediately jumped on the reflection train to see where that originated and if it was something I need to do something about. You see, as a bid manager I have a daily focus on putting together, writing and WINNING the best deals for the company I’m employed at. I have to meet standards and requirements, deliver quality and outperform the rest of the competition and win over the clients that will ‘grant’ us their contracts (which, due to that single word means that it is actually mostly a subjective matter, instead of an objective process). And now I sometimes wonder: ‘is this the job that I should be doing?’

Because yes. It plays into my competitive side, A LOT. It’s important deals, there’s a broad field of competition and I can really ‘shine’ when things go well. The work is fun and challenging and the rewards are awesome. But. There’s a but.

This job – however much it might suit me in some areas – is never going to be ‘fair’. There’s deals I will win based on politics and smart sales-speeches instead of content and quality. There’s deals I will lose even though we’re the stronger competitor on that same level. There’s moments the quality of my work, however outstanding, will not determine my results and moments I will be judged for those unfair results over my actual work, however unfair that might be.

And that chafes and aches sometimes because it feels like a lack of control over my position in this world. If it’s not my work and effort that determines my success (like WAS the case in my last position as a software tester), if I can’t be at the steering wheel of people’s perception – am I really in the right place?

This Monday I won my first (solo-managed) deal. It was a team effort, obviously (as are all our deals) – but it was ‘my’ first win as a bid manager. An important contract, a very visible deal within the company and something that will surely benefit me and my employers in the long run. It. Was. An Awesome. Feeling! Truly. Top of the world. Cheering. Happiness.
Same thing happened last month when we won another (way bigger) deal in which I did all of the actual writing. Ecstatic joy all-round. But the strange thing was: we had not expected to win that one based on the quality of our work. While I lost a deal earlier this year that had us going ‘THIS IS IN THE POCKET!’

And that just, somehow, feels wrong. It feels great when it’s all well and good – but at the same time there’s this invisible ax looming over my head that I feel might drop at any moment on any other deal I work on. Because frankly – I don’t think that I have (enough) control over outcomes to be fully confident in my own abilities.

Still. I’m on a winning streak now, and I feel like (considering the quality that I do put out) we’re currently giving ourselves the best possible chances of winning when we’re not counting in the effects of the politics and powerplays. But I do wonder – in the long run – can I really thrive in a job where the end verdict on your person(al success) is based on results that find a foundation in an uncontrollable unfairness? Can I find a way to soothe that part of my core that revolts against the process? Can I put simple results over that need for just- and fairness?

38 thoughts on “Winning over Justice

  1. WoW! What a delightful read.

    I hope many of us can relate to this kind of reflection and ponderings regarding ourselves and the match with our (work) environment, because every now and then it’s necessary. Anyone of us will benefit from ‘stopping time, standing still and listening to your gut-feeling’ (about yourself and the way you relate to important ‘things’ like relationships, work, friends, and so on.

    As a personal reflection: I hold the same value (‘rechtvaardigheid’) very high. And with some years of experience (ahum) I can tell you that there really is no place in which you don’t bump into some kind unfairness. Sometimes it’s the culture of an organisation (DNA), the rules or just an important colleague you have to deal with. There’s no heaven on earth. Of course there’s environments – perhaps like your company and it’s competitors & clients – that are a tad ‘heavy’ on competetiveness with more of a “winning or losing ‘no matter what’-mentality.” If that doensn’t suit you … or inspire you … listen to your heart.

    On the other side: (as you know) it’s mostly about how you handle (this) adversity and if your able to manage your response and keep your balance. In a way it ‘sounds’like a game of sports: sometime you play the game of a lifetime and still have nothing to show for it. In your company everyone knwos that, accepts it and abides by this ‘rule’. So just maybe … usefull to reflect some more on your own strive for perfection and ‘rechtvaardigheid’ because maybe that’s the key to either ‘fitting in’ or ‘stepping out’. My personal thought: I think you fit in and you have not only made giant steps already, you will get the appreciation you deserve (and I hope that will help you find your way, because in this field of work – that in many way suits you – there’s still lots to be learned (about yourself) and even more fun will await you).

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Congratulations on your deals!! One thing I’ve learnt in my (many) years on this earth – life is not fair. I’ve managed to accept some of the unfairness, because if one has to fight every single injustice or unfairness, life will be a constant battle, and I’m not geared for that. We each have to choose our battles, and only you can decide if you feel you can continue with the status quo. Good luck! 🙂

    Liked by 6 people

  3. SMiLes We’d All More
    Naturally Win If We
    Competed Against
    Ourself Always
    Improving in
    Flow of Life
    Yet Our Tools
    This Natural
    Into everything
    In Life Coloring
    And Reflecting
    Meme of Trump
    As Long Now
    We No
    Longer Need
    Every Hand
    For Survival
    More likely
    We Are
    To Bleed
    The ‘Foxhole’
    It’s All An Illusion
    These Clothes of
    To Be
    Clear not
    Trying to
    You Of Anything
    Only Reflecting
    Reality i See Now⛵️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is a great personal value to live by and a great post. If this is your core value you would have to live it my friend.

    Universe/God is fair and just. God is both : Love and Law 😊💖

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Congratulations on your winning the contract that’s great. It does sound like a difficult environment to feel secure in. As long as you keep winning, life is good, but what happens if you’re not winning. This may be a position you hold for a period of time, learn from it and then opt for something more secure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Quite possibly very true…
      But I do get very stubborn once I get dug in somewhere…and letting go becomes increasingly harder, especially when that feeling of ‘euphoria’ settles (and must be reclaimed when at a loss)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Well done you, this is a great post which gives a real insight into how incredible and talented you are.
    I empathise, I also spend time reflecting, analysing and making improvements to myself to ensure a balanced life and career however, it is not a common trait. This is not to discourage you – continue to strive for greatness but allow yourself to enjoy it more.

    My job has always been a big part of my identity, now I introduce myself as a writer. My job earns me money, I’m fantastic at it but it does not define me. It also stops the confusion of what ppl think you do and what you actually do. By introducing myself as my passion new conversations open up and it’s true, blogging aside I write executive level reports and turn data sets into narratives 😎 Being both, achieving both was a great moment in my career ⭐️

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Very interesting read and something I can relate to as justice and fairness has always been one of my key values and even needs. As I have moved through life, I think I have come to the conclusion that there will always be things that I find unjust that I am powerless to change. However, what I do have control over is my reaction to them and to try not to let these situations eat away at me. I think basically we can do what we can to try and right a wrong but the main thing we can do is work on being true to ourselves and our own values in the process.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Since I discovered a lot on the subject of giftedness, I know that this urge, this perpetual pursuit of fairness and justice is linked to that. So I think that is the case here too. Unfortunately, it has cost me my job, thinking I always have to do the right thing and be honest about everything. I recognize your doubts, as to whether a job like yours can be combined with this core value. I hope you will find you balance, and I think you already have come a lot further than I have. It certainly helps me to read how you deals with things…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Do they cover your face, as a disguise? 🤪No, seriously, most people freak out hearing the h********** word… I’ve only been trying to find an explanation for my weirdness. And writing about that sometimes helps. But unfortunately, knowing doesn’t solve everything…
        Anyway, I have the impression you’re not in too much trouble so I’m glad about that!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think the freak out is mostly because, these days, there’s a lot of people connecting a lot of impact to a label like that. Joining communities. Learning ‘new’ skills in ‘coping’ with the ‘normal’ world. Shedding light on ‘why you’ve always been different’ or liking every picture on every ‘HB Insta and Facebook page just to hang out the flag for everyone to see that ‘you have an excuse for being the way you are’….and it’s that general tone of ‘specialness’ that I personally kinda hate, too.

        But then – maybe I’m just not actually HB and thus have not experienced the ‘differentness’ that apparently warrants these behaviors or something. Who knows!


      3. Or you’re just well in control, which is good for you!!
        I know exactly what you mean and I resent that as well, but… I have my needs too, and after years and years of not being accepted and adapting and adapting and adapting, well, you sometimes just desperately NEED an excuse… Sometimes, when the loneliness and lack of understanding is overwhelming. I do fell like an alien. A lot. 🙄🙃😏🤡😁… (I guess that is why I love to read your blog hahaha… (and write mine hèhèhè))

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Justice is indeed a great quality and laudable way to live – but as you say, it is often tricky and the subjectivity of it can often get mixed up. It requires great wisdom – divine wisdom, I’d say.

    Liked by 1 person

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