The expression absence makes the heart grow fonder holds enormous truth—the longer we are away, the more we yearn. Absence makes the heart grow fonder is the yin to familiarity breeds contempt’s yang.

While being confined in the same place with the same people during the COVID-19 quarantine may be testing your resolve, I suspect it may also be creating distance in your life that leaves you yearning for what is absent.

Is it dining out at your favorite restaurant? Attending sporting events? Your morning commute? Your coworkers? Distance facilitates our ability to gloss over the bad and amplify the good. Distance also facilitates our appreciation for things that we didn’t necessarily realize we appreciated—until they were gone.

I find myself increasingly missing things that fall into this category, like the crossing guard at my daughter’s school, Miss Cici.

Before the quarantine, I walked my daughters to school every morning. Miss Cici brought a unique brand of flare and enthusiasm to the intersection in front of their school. She didn’t just blow her whistle and raise her stop sign when it was time for the students to cross the street. Miss Cici tooted her whistle in a zealous cadence before shouting, “Looooooook and gooooooo!”

When it was time to stop crossing, she didn’t just drop her stop sign and return to the curb, she counted down from ten before declaring in her patented, sing-songy tone: “No more crossing, Pleeeeaaaase waaaaaaaaiiite.” Of course, intermingled between crossings were plenty of goooood morning’s, greeeaat to see you’s, and have a niiiiiiiice day’s.

Miss Cici’s style gained the attention of everyone who approached the intersection. You couldn’t help but smile when you passed through her crosswalk.

To the students and parents at my daughter’s school, Miss Cici is a bonafide good teammate. But she’s a special type of good teammate, she’s a bookend teammate. Her welcoming disposition set the tone for everyone’s day, and her enthusiasm sent us home with gladness and an eagerness to return.

All great teams have bookend teammates—individuals who greet team members with enthusiasm and send team members off with an eagerness to return. Bookend teammates play an integral part in team culture because they set the tone and reset the tone.

Businesses with high customer satisfaction ratings always have bookend teammates. They are found in roles like receptionist, doorman, and hostess. Bookend teammates influence the mood of the patrons entering the business and the quality of the patrons’ experience when exiting. Wise leaders—leaders who see themselves as needing to also be good teammates—value their teams’ bookend teammates.

With the growing trend towards Kindles and eBooks, the bookend analogy may not translate as smoothly as it once did. To those unfamiliar with the term, bookends are structures used to keep a group of loose books together on a shelf. They keep the books from falling apart.

Metaphorically, bookend teammates serve the same purpose to their teams.

Being a bookend teammate requires no special talent. All that’s really needed is a willingness to share your enthusiasm and appreciate the importance of your role. I suppose that’s true for all good teammates.

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

Lance Loya is the founder and CEO of the Good Teammate Factory. 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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