I saw a mural painted on the wall of a resort that read “Just let go.” It was a beach resort, so the message seemed appropriate. But the mural made me think about how adding an extra word can significantly alter a message’s meaning. There’s a difference between “Just let go” and “Just let it go.”

“Just let go” is dropping your guard and ditching your convictions. Life is short. Eat the cake. Buy the shoes. Indulge in the simple pleasures. And so on.

“Just let it go” is abandoning emotions that are holding you back—like fear or anger. It’s about adopting a Frozen Mindset and not allowing yourself to be negatively influenced by what you cannot control.

I gave a talk to a group of sports officials a few years ago. One of the officials commented how hard it is to try to communicate to a coach who is complaining about the official not seeing something that happened. The official would attempt in earnest to tell the coach that he didn’t see the play.  I told the official that he needed to add an addendum to his reply.

Replying “Coach, I didn’t see it” has the potential to escalate an already volatile situation. This response will lead the coach to question the official’s competency or unfairly label the official as arrogant. The subsequent interactions won’t likely be pleasant for either party.

To ward off that scenario, I suggested that the official should add the words that way to the end of his reply: “Coach, I didn’t see it that way.” This small addendum changes the message. The response is no longer susceptible to complaints of incompetency or arrogance. Now, the message is about different perspectives. Coaches have a much harder time arguing this reply.

Adding that small addendum allows the official to preserve his integrity without discounting the possibility that the coach may be right. The official conveys vulnerability by calmly acknowledging that interpretation is subjective to different vantage points. What I saw from where I was standing isn’t necessarily the same as what you saw.

The altered response lets the coach know that the official is giving an honest effort and that the official is a person of principle. He isn’t going to call something he doesn’t see happening from his perspective.

Good teammates are principled people. They value integrity. Sometimes teams struggling to find the right chemistry need an addendum teammate—a teammate who compliments the team in a way that alters the team’s culture for the better.

Addendum teammates don’t necessarily need to be more physically or intellectually gifted to impact the team. Their contribution may be their lack of ego or their wiliness to compromise. Adding an addendum teammate who is able to just let go and just let it go can unburden a team from what is holding it back.

If your team is struggling to jell as a unit, maybe you need the addition of an addendum teammate. Or maybe, you need to change your mindset and become your team’s addendum teammate. One individual choosing to become a better teammate can change a team’s entire culture.

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

(*By the way, sports officials—referees, umpires, etc.—are an essential component to the athletic experience. Plenty of “good teammates” occupy these positions. Be sure to thank them for their good-teammate-move presence!)

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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