Franklin D. Roosevelt had a sign on his desk that read: “Let unconquerable gladness dwell.” The sign was a source of encouragement for America’s thirty-second president.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that sign’s meaning. The more I ponder the words, the more I realize how accurately they describe the challenge of being a good teammate. So many of the choices good teammates are compelled to make are counter to what comes easily.

It’s easy to choose what is best for you instead of choosing what is best for your team. It’s easy to complain about problems instead of confronting problems. It’s easy to jump ship instead of weathering the storm.

But the easy way isn’t necessarily the good teammate way.

Having to constantly choose the more difficult route can be exhausting. The toll of “doing the right thing” can wear you down. And therein lies the challenge of being a good teammate: To not allow difficult choices to break your spirit.

Good teammates cannot permit their spirit to be conquered by collateral negativity.

Part of being glad is being joyful. However, gladness is additionally about being willing. Good teammates are both joyful and willing. They eagerly serve the needs of their team and derive happiness from doing so.

When you thank a good teammate, the response is inevitably along the lines of “I am glad to help.” Good teammates are filled with gladness. They don’t see difficult choices as challenges; they see them as opportunities, for which they are grateful.

Franklin D. Roosevelt served his country during a difficult period in its history. He was challenged by a Great Depression, a Great World War, and a not-so-great personal battle with polio. It doesn’t take much to see the need for the sign that sat on his desk.

The origin of Roosevelt’s sign came from a prayer book distributed to soldiers in WWII. The actual passage in the book included several preceding words: “At the heart of all our trouble and sorrow let unconquerable gladness dwell.”

At the heart of a good teammate dwells a commitment to caring about the team.

Choosing to be a good teammate can make you vulnerable to trouble and sorrow. It’s true. But the choice can also lead you to experience incredible happiness. When you care enough to let your choices be dictated by a cause greater than yourself—the needs of your team—you allow unconquerable joy to dwell in your heart.

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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