In the realm of motivational quotes, one has continually stuck with me: “It’s hard, but it’s fair.” An older football coach used it to fire up his players, but it speaks volumes about life today.
The coach’s son, Toler Jr., eloquently defines the meaning of the phrase:
“It’s about sacrifice. It means that if you work hard, at the end of the day, fairness aligns with your efforts. It’s about investing time and readiness for the opportunities.”
We all think our parents are hard on us growing up. I recall stories I tell to my own sons of my Dad waking me up on a Saturday morning at 7am, after I was out to late the night before, and ‘making’ me help him with something, like chopping wood or cleaning the garage out. He didn’t really need my help, he was trying to teach me a lesson about choices. If I chose to stay out late at night, it was going to suck getting up early to go to school. He shared with me stories of his father doing the same thing – one night my Dad had gotten home late, so late, he didn’t even go to bed, just started a pot of coffee and waited for my grandfather to get up, figuring that was easier than getting a couple of hours of sleep and then hearing it from my grandfather the rest of the day.
In my role as an HR professional, I witness this every day in the workforce. There are those who consistently dedicate themselves without expecting special treatment. Others will put in the minimum, then expect a cookie. It’s a tough life lesson for those folks. Often, they depart, perceiving unfair treatment, and move between jobs, slowly learning the importance of effort and time investment. In my three decades in HR, genuine hard workers rarely face injustice. Occasionally, undeserving individuals might receive promotions, but the hard workers usually secure the better end of the deal.
As a parent, I hope I can teach my sons this lesson: Life is inherently challenging, but commitment and hard work pave the path to fairness.