I am writing this edition of Teammate Tuesday with a heavy heart. After a prolonged battle with cancer, my sister passed away last week. Know that what follows is not a eulogy, but a lesson in living—a good teammate lesson.

Lana was the youngest of my five siblings. I was born at the other end of the spectrum, creating a significant age gap between us and leaving her forever engraved in my memory as a pigtailed little girl, holding the raggedy stuffed teddy bear she called “Muttley.”

She of course grew up to be much more than that. After graduating college, my sister accepted a job as a teacher at a small, rural school. Her caring nature was a perfect match for the school’s unique challenges, and she remained there for the duration of her career.

Lana with her class.Had she moved on to a bigger school in a more affluent community, she could have avoided many of the difficulties that plagued her school—lower budgets, fewer extracurricular activities, lack of parental involvement, etc.

But she never saw those issues as problems; she thought of them as opportunities to make a greater difference.

When the end of her life became imminent, my sister wrote her own obituary. At the end of it, she asked that donations of school supplies be sent to her beloved school in lieu of flowers. I found her request to exemplify the unusual generosity of a good teammate.

Instead of accepting rewards to which they are entitled, good teammates choose to redirect the resources used for the rewards to the needs of their teammates. Flowers are nice, but Lana knew she didn’t need them. The students she loved, however, needed school supplies. She sacrificed her entitlement to benefit those for whom she cared.

Her request is comparable to the MVP who deflects the credit to the other team members, or the child who wants money donated to his favorite charity instead of birthday presents, or the CEO who redistributes her quarterly bonus to her staff.

Those are all good teammate moves derived from love for something greater than themselves. We all have it within us to make those types of sacrifices.

If you’re struggling to identify an in lieu of flowers sacrifice you can make, consider following Lana’s example. Grab a backpack the next time you’re at the store and fill it with school supplies to drop off at your local school.

I assure you, your gesture will be appreciated and alter the course of a needy child’s life.

As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.

Lance Loya is a leading authority on the good teammate mindset. He is a college basketball coach turned author, blogger, and professional speaker, who inspires TEAMBUSTERS to become TEAMMATES. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or through his weekly Teammate Tuesday blog.

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