When I was in high school, we had a rather quirky custodian who worked in our district. I know what you’re thinking—Me too! I think it is probably safe to say that nearly every high school employs a rather quirky custodian. They’re an iconic fixture in schools worldwide.

One day, I was sitting in my school’s library, quietly reading the local newspaper, when our quirky custodian approached me. Standing over my shoulder, he leaned forward and began to point at something in the newspaper.

I happened to have the newspaper open to the page that listed the birth announcements and the obituaries.

The custodian tapped the page with his finger and quickly counted the names listed under the birth announcements. One…two…three…four.

Then he moved his finger down and counted the names listed under the obituaries. One…two…three…four…five…six.

Upon completion, and to nobody in particular, he then exuberantly proclaimed, “Yes! More air for me!”

I remember chalking the incident up as his peculiar attempt at humor. But I had a discussion recently with someone who was having an issue with a member of their team deriving pleasure from another teammate’s misfortune. Their problem made me think of that custodian.

Struggling teams are often comprised of individuals who embody the custodian’s proclamation: More air for me. They rely on their teammates’ misfortune to advance themselves.

They actually relish in a teammate’s failure, because it will likely produce a situation where they, as an individual, will be more favorably viewed—despite having taken no action of their own to earn a more advantageous standing on the team.

Good teammates don’t think this way.

Good teammates understand that when a teammate succeeds, the team succeeds. Ergo, they succeed.

The same is true when it comes to failure.

If a teammate fails, the team fails. Ergo, they fail.

This belief is what precludes a good teammate from being jealous of another teammate’s success, nor rejoicing in another teammate’s failure.

On healthy teams, members build up their teammates and tear down their competition—mindful, of course, that their teammates are never their real competition.

Healthy teams inevitably become successful teams.

If you’re looking for a way to help integrate this unselfish attitude into your team’s culture, then I recommend you read a blog I previously wrote about Victory Cake.

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

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


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